New politics, new media, new majority

Democrats have an opportunity to build a new governing majority and a realigned national politics with impact as powerful as the coalition of Franklin Roosevelt and the up-tempo patriotism of John Kennedy.

Historic trend waves in American politics include the alienation of Americans from everything Washington, the rise of political independence, the hunger for national unity, the feeling of large numbers of Americans that they are disrespected by political and media elites, and major demographic changes creating new political tides.

Here are the building blocks for the next FDR coalition:

A mobilized base of Democrats is now organizing around the Internet in alliance with progressive radio. Their views now converge with a strong majority of political independents.

Progressives are often demeaned on the three cable news networks, and like women, Hispanics and blacks are largely unrepresented among political show hosts.

The progressive Internet is a powerful weapon for message, organization and fundraising, and by November 2008 could empower more than $250 million of fundraising and more than one million electoral volunteers.

As progressive radio and the progressive Internet increasingly empower and support each other, the power of both is heightened and the move into comparatively low-rated cable is inevitable.

Women represent a majority of people, voters and consumers. Hispanics are the largest-growing demographic in America. Blacks represent substantial numbers. Yet women, blacks, Hispanics and progressives are almost completely excluded as political show hosts in a new silent majority whose voice has only begun to be heard.

Political independents increasingly adopt Democratic-leaning positions. The population wave of Hispanics is accompanied by greater Democratic support among Hispanic voters, which only increases with the immigration debate.

The Hispanic demographic wave will elect more Democrats to Congress and turn Western electoral votes to Democratic presidential candidates, with growing impact in Florida and ultimately Texas.
Giant majorities agree with Democratic views on global warming, energy policy, gasoline prices and dependence on foreign oil from despotic Middle East sources that create security dangers, consumer rip-offs and pressures for war.

The chronic and widespread shortchanging of wounded troops, veterans and military families who together represent more than 50 million voters, with above average turnout, could be a realigning coup de grâce.

It is not enough for Democrats to be slightly better than Republicans. If Democrats speak honorably, courageously and comprehensively as the voice of vets and military families, the moral issue is clear and the realigning power is stunning.

If Democrats advocate a new patriotism based on a just society, where sacrifice and success are fairly shared, the new realignment includes heartland America, men and women of faith, working people and all who believe America should be brought together, lifted up and moving forward in the post-Bush era.

The new politics, new media and new majority are rooted in time-honored values of American idealism, major demographic and population waves, the common values of diverse faiths and communities, and advancing trends of media, technology and political fundraising.

Throughout the 20th century the game-changing presidencies and realigning national politics have always coincided with great transformations in major media that reflected changing culture, opinion and demographics.

The first wave was led by Franklin Roosevelt, who mobilized his party and the nation through breakthrough use of radio for communications and organization.

The second wave was led by John Kennedy, who was the first presidential candidate who rode the tide of television, and not only had the looks and message, but a brilliant father who came from the motion picture industry and led his peers in understanding the political power of television.

The third wave was led by Ronald Reagan, who understood television and motion pictures, used radio presentations brilliantly between 1976 and 1980, and brought together what became the conservative media infrastructure that began with religious broadcasting and culminated in conservative talk radio, Fox News and its imitators today.

The fourth wave has begun, combining massive popular discontent with Bush politics, the view of giant constituencies that they are insulted or ignored by current political and media elites, and the mass migration of these huge voter, audience and consumer blocs to media that respects their interests and values.

The wave has begun, the future is now, the candidates who seize it will prevail, and the next Rupert Murdoch will probably be liberal.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and to Bill Alexander, then-chief deputy whip of the House. He will contribute three follow-up posts on The Hill’s Pundits Blog about 2008 and the future of politics for the Internet, talk radio and K Street.

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