A Look Back On The History of the Democratic Party And The Term “Liberal”

“Liberal” vs. “Progressive”: Which word are Democrats embracing, eschewing?

Jake Neher/WDET

The Republican “blow outs” in the 1984 and 1988 presidential elections, along with the post-1972 response to Richard Nixon’s election landslide resulted in the Democratic Party’s move toward the center.

That’s according to Marc Kruman, Wayne State University professor of history, who joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today to look back at some Democratic Party dynamics as the group’s 2016 national convention begins today in Philadelphia.

“The idea of associating Democrats with liberalism? It had become a dirty word, the ‘L word,’ and ‘progressive’ began to rhetorically replace ‘liberal,’” Kruman says. “But even now, alongside ‘progressive,’ you see Stephen Henderson on radio talking about ‘liberal’ as perceived by Democrats as a positive thing. So I think there has been an important shift.”

Kruman also is the founding director of the Center for the Study of Citizenship at Wayne State.

To hear the full conversation, including some callers, click on the audio player above.


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