Advance ticket sales have ended but plenty of additional tickets remain available at the door.
Profs and Pints DC presents: “The Democratic Party’s Path,” a look at how it prevailed in past elections and could dominate again in the future, with Michael Kazin, professor of history at Georgetown University, co-editor emeritus of Dissent magazine, and author of What It Took to Win: A History of the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party of the United States is the oldest mass political party in the world, but its two-century history is an uneven one, marked by winning streaks interspersed with long periods shut out of power. Having won the White House and captured control of both houses of Congress in 2020, it now faces the prospect of a midterm debacle.
What determines the Democratic Party’s success or failure? Come hear that question tackled by Georgetown University historian Michael Kazin, whose new book What It Took to Win, a sweeping account of the Democratic Party’s history, has received critical acclaim.
Dr. Kazin will discuss how, over the past two centuries, the Democratic Party’s candidates consistently won national elections and were competitive in most states only when they articulated an egalitarian economic vision and advocated laws that aimed to fulfill it—first only for white Americans, but eventually for every citizen. Only programs designed to make life more prosperous, or at least more secure, for ordinary people proved capable of uniting Democrats and winning over enough voters to enable the party to create a governing majority that could last for more than one or two election cycles.
Democratic Party leaders understood that most voters saw no alternative to the system of markets and wages, and they did not try to offer one. But they also believed, quite accurately, that the capitalist order failed to produce the utilitarian ideal of the greatest good for the greatest number. Even in defending racial supremacy and instituting brutal policies that devastated the lives of Black Americans and other people of color, Democrats swore by Jefferson’s maxim of “equal rights to all and special privileges to none.”
When Democrats prevailed on the national level in 2020, their partisans expected the coming of a new New Deal or, at least, the enactment of reforms to help ordinary people. So far, the party’s record has been mixed on this front. How can Democrats find their way to building an effective majority again?
Professor Kazin won’t have all the answers, but he’ll at least leave you with a historically grounded sense of how the party got to where it is today and what might determine its success in the future. (Advance tickets: $12. Doors: $15, save $2 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please allow yourself time to place any orders and get seated and settled in. Bring proof of vaccination and a mask as they may be required in response to local infection rates. The Bier Baron will be requiring event attendees to purchase a minimum of two items, which can be food or beverages, including soft drinks.)
Image: Portraits of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his running mate, Harry S. Truman, from a 1944 presidential campaign poster.