Professor Thomas Patterson, co-founder of Boston Global Forum and AIWS.net, will speak about his new book “Is the Republican Party Destroying Itself?” at 10:00 am (EST), May 5, 2020 at AIWS.net. The moderator is Mr. Barry Nolan, member of the Boston Global Forum Executive Board.
Is the Republican Party Destroying Itself? explores five traps that the Republican Party has set for itself and endanger its future. The traps vary in lethality but, together, they could cripple the party for a generation or more. One trap is its steady movement to the right, which has distanced the party from the moderate voters who hold the balance of power in a two-party system. A second trap is demographic change. Younger adults and minorities vote heavily Democratic, and their numbers increase with each passing election. The older white voters that are the GOP’s base of support are shrinking in number. Within two decades, based on demographic change alone, the GOP faces the prospect of being a second-rate party. Right-wing media are the Republicans’ third trap. A powerful force within the party, they have tied the GOP to policy positions and versions of reality that are blunting its ability to govern and impeding its efforts to attract new sources of support. A fourth trap is the large tax cuts that the GOP has three times handed to the wealthy. The rich have reaped a windfall but at a high cost to the GOP. It has soiled its image as the party of the middle class and created a split between its working-class supporters and its marketplace conservatives. The fifth trap is the GOP’s disregard for democratic norms and institutions, including its effort through voter ID laws to suppress the vote of minorities and lower-income Americans. In the process, it has made lasting enemies and created instruments of power that can be used against it. That Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election says more about the Republican Party than it does about Trump. In the whole of American history, there is only one major party – today’s GOP – that would have nominated a Trump-like candidate for president. And he has deepened each of the Republican Party’s traps. If the GOP were to become a second-rate party, Trump will have accelerated its downfall rather than being the cause of it. Before he came on the scene, the GOP was already a conservative party in name only. It had become a reactionary party out of step with what America is becoming. Republicans have traded the party’s future for yesterday’s America.The GOP needs to restore its conservative heritage if it is to remain a competitive party. Our democracy requires a healthy and competitive two-party system and would not benefit from a greatly diminished Republican Party, nor can it flourish from the reactionary course that the GOP has been pursuing.
Thomas E. Patterson is Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press, Harvard Kennedy School. He is author of the book Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism, published in October 2013. His earlier book, The Vanishing Voter, looks at the causes and consequences of electoral participation, and his book on the media’s political role, Out of Order, received the American Political Science Association’s Graber Award as the best book of the decade in political communication. His first book, The Unseeing Eye, was named by the American Association for Public Opinion Research as one of the 50 most influential books on public opinion in the past half century. He is also the author of Mass Media Election: How Americans Choose Their President (1980), and two general American government texts: The American Democracy and We the People. His articles have appeared in Political Communication, Journal of Communication, and other academic journals, as well as in the popular press. His research has been funded by the Ford, Markle, Smith-Richardson, Pew, Knight, Carnegie, and National Science foundations. Patterson received his PhD from the University of Minnesota in 1971.
Barry Nolan currently serves as Senior Advisor to Congressional Representative Carolyn B. Maloney in her DC office. He is Member of the Boston Global Forum’s Executive Board.
Prior to his current post, he served as the Senior Advisor to the Democratic Staff of the Joint Economic Committee from 2015 to 2017, as Senior advisor on the congressional staff of US Representative Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) from 2012-2014. From 2009 to 2011 he served as Communications Director for the JEC.
Before he began his career in public service he spent three decades as a multi-Emmy Award winning television journalist, producer and commentator traveling the world to cover an enormous range of stories. He has hosted national programs on ABC, Fox, and in syndication.
He has also been an Adjunct Professor in the Journalism Department at Boston University and was a regular contributor to Boston Magazine.
For 22 years, he has been a panelist on Says You, a weekly NPR radio show described by Time magazine as a “party for smarties,” and is blissfully married to BU professor Garland Waller.