Tony Blankley

What will the right-of-center coalition in American politics look like in five or 10 years? Before considering that, let's consider what it looked like in, say, 1940 and 1980. In 1940, the conservative alternative to FDR was in the minority. It was largely anti-New Deal, somewhat anti-Catholic, pro-domestic free market, pro-protectionist, isolationist in its Midwestern center of gravity (with a more internationalist Northeastern wing). It was strongly opposed to the draft (the August 1940 vote in Congress for the draft had 182 Democrats and only 21 Republicans supporting it. The no vote was 133 Republican, 65 Democratic.) Culturally, particularly in the Midwest, there remained a strong anti-alcohol consumption attitude.

By 1980, the newly forming Reagan right-of-center coalition was ready to start winning national elections. The small government, domestic free market component of the coalition remained from the 1940s. A strong libertarian element also became part of the coalition that, in the past, had been in favor of using government to enforce social and moral standards.

Also, its foreign policy was now strongly interventionist, in favor of an expanded military and, notably, no longer anti-Catholic. The Reagan Democrats (who added to the free market and interventionist factions to form a majority electorate) were largely white Catholic Democrats alienated by the cultural excesses of the McGovernite Democrats. Steadily adding to the size of that majority coalition in the 1980s was the expanding Protestant evangelical vote (about 15 percent of the entire electorate in the late 1990s; and up to 20-25 percent of the entire electorate by 2004). The outlawing of prayer in public schools and the permitting of abortion and racial busing were strong forces driving both Catholic Reagan Democrats and fundamentalist Protestants into the Reagan coalition.

It is noteworthy that the Northern Catholics had been reliable union member votes for the 1932-1976 FDR coalition, while many of the Southern conservative Protestants previously had been supporters of Southern economic populist Democratic candidates. To some extent, culture shock trumped economics and drove those voters from a left-of-center coalition to a right-of-center coalition. In each case, their presence was the element that made their coalition the majority.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

©Creators Syndicate