REVIEWSrnMiddle AmericanrnMellow?rnhy Samuel FrancisrnAmerica’s Forgotten Majority: Why thernWhite Working Class Still Mattersrnby Ruy Teixeim and ]oeI RogersrnNew York: Basic Books; 232 pp., $25.00rnSince the 1960’s, American politics atrnthe national level has primarily consistedrnof an endless search for a new majorit}’.rnThe Democratic Part”s embracernof the civil-rights movement kicked offrnthe quest by undermining the New Dealrncoalition that combined white Southernersrnwith white, ethnic, Northern unionrnmembers, allowing the Republican Part}’rnto invade the South and even swipernmany of tlieir rivals’ voters in the North.rnThe Democrats, in return, got the blackrnvote and kept (usvally) most of the unionrnvote, but as the victories of RichardrnNixon and Ronald Reagan attest, thernGOP got the better deal. pAcr since, thernDemocrats have been seeking to rebuildrnthe coalition they lost without having tornabandon the eccentric positions to whichrnboth their ideological preferences andrnnew electoral base wed them. The bestrntactic the’ have deised is to nominaternwhite Southern candidates, such as JimmyrnCarter, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore,rnwho never jeopardize the structural basisrnof the left’s hegemony in state, economy,rnand culture but can plausibly masqueradernas less leftish than the party and itsrntrue bosses really are. This strategy hasrnindeed fooled some of the people somernof the time, but it cannot work in the longrnrun because the party’s radicalism cannotrnbe concealed forever, and when it comesrnout, white middle-class voters will defect.rnThe perennial quest of the Democrats,rntherefore, is to steal back the voters who,rnover the years, have been known as “Wallacernvoters,” the “Silent Majorit),” “ReaganrnDemocrats,” or “Perot voters,” all ofrnwhom are more or less synonymous withrnthe white (and largely male) workingandrnmiddle-class base the Democrats lostrnin the 60’s. The Republicans, however.rnmanaged to win enough of these ‘oters,rnat least tiirough 1988, to keep the WhiternHouse, although in 1992 and 1996 therncombinahon of Clinton and Perot on thernballot, coupled with the Stupid Party’srnown lack of understanding of wh- whiternmen vote for it, endangered conhnuedrnGOP control of this ke- sector of thernelectorate. In recent years, political analystsrnon both sides of the fence havernclaimed that alternative ‘oting blocs —rn”soccer moms” in the suburbs, Hispanicrnimmigrants in the West and Southwesthavernbegun to play the strategic rolernwhite males plaed for the last 30 years.rnHence, both parties have neglectedrnvhite males and their interests and concerns,rnwhich is why the- have becomernthe “P’orgotten Majorit}” (about 55 percentrnof the total electorate) in the title ofrnthis slim new study.rnAmerica’s Forgotten Majorit}’ is a con-rnincing restatement of the continuingrnsignificance of white male working- andrnmiddle-class voters in national elections.rnBoth Ruv Teixeira and Joel Rogers arernpolitical scientists of leftish orientation,rnhowever, and it is their thesis as well asrntheir hope that the “Forgotten Majorit}'”rnis no longer the right-wing power base itrnhas been since the 1960’s, that it has nowrnmellowed enough to be able to serve asrnthe new base of a resurgent liberalismrnwhich “can revie active, strong governmentrnand build a 21st-centur}’ prosperityrnthat is truK’ inclusic of all Americans.”rnAside from the thinly disguised agendarnof their book, in many respects Teixeira’srnand Rogers’ anal’sis is almost identical tornthe one advanced in 1976 by the laternDonald Warren, whose study of the Wallacernvoters in the late 1960’s and earlyrn1970’s led to his coining the term “MiddlernAmerican Radical” (MAR)—a conceptrnthat both Kein Phillips and I havernused to describe the Wallace-Nixon (andrnlater Buchanan) voting base. MARs, inrnWarren’s analysis, were not only characterizedrnby their middle-income status butrnby their association with a distinctivernworldview: that “the rich” (or the powerlul)rngive in to the demands of “the poor”rnat the expense of the middle class. It wasrnthis belief that accounted for their “radicalism”rn(their distrvist of government, thernrich, and establishment authorities in virtuallyrnevery field) and made them receptivernto alternative leadership from the anti-rnestablishment, populist right. MARsrnsaw themselves as exploited bv an alliancernbetween the ruling class and thernunderclass, and they rejected both thernpro-underclass policies favored by thernconventional left as well as the pro-rulingrnclass policies championed by the mainstreamrnright. As Wallace showed in hisrncampaigns, MARs were entirely open torna “third wav” that sought to svnthesize therncultural beliefs of the right (patriotism,rnmoral and religious traditionalism, racialrnand class identit}) with some of the economicrnideas of the left (middle-class safet}’rnnets, health, employment, and retirementrnbenefits).rnTeixeira and Rogers never refer tornWarren and his work; they mentionrnGeorge Wallace on only one page andrnPat Buchanan not at all, but their descriptionrnof the Forgotten Majority resembles,rnwith some differences, Warren’srndescription of MARs. Economically,rnForgotten Majority’ t}’pes tend to be “lowlevelrnwhite collar and service workers”rnrather than the blue-collar factor}- workersrnof the 60’s and 70’s. Only about 17rnpercent hold factory jobs today. Theirrnmedian familv income is about $42,000,rnas opposed to MARs’ $5,000 to $13,000rnfamily income in the early 1970’s. Theyrnlie in the suburbs and are better educatedrnthan the older working class: Fourfifthsrnhold high school diplomas andrnaround two-fifths have some educationrnbeyond high school. As Teixeira andrnRogers argue, “the t}’pical blue-collar orrnlow-level white-collar worker was on arnrapid escalator to the middle class untilrn1973, but after that had to work hard simplyrnto maintain his or her hold on the incomernnecessar- to maintain a middleclassrnlifest}’le.”rnThe result has been a “disjimcture”rnbetween the core values of the ForgottenrnMajorit}’, its belief in what the authors describernas “freedom, equalitv’ before thernlaw, equality’ of opportunit}’, fairness . . .rnachievement and hard work . . . patriotism,rndemocracv, American exceptionalismrn. . . caring beyond the self, religion,rnand luck,” and, on the other hand, itsrneconomic experience as its values havernceased to bring the expected material rewards.rn”The failure of activist governmentrnto restart that escalator, combinedrn28/CHRONICLESrnrnrn