Stanley Greenberg

Stanley B. Greenberg is a founding partner of Greenberg Research and Democracy Corps, and author of America Ascendant: A Revolutionary Nation's Path to Addressing Its Deepest Problems and Leading the 21st Century.

Recent Articles

Contesting Values

In his State of the Union address, President Bush told a rapt nation and the assembled government of the United States that our nation faces grave threats and must live up to its "great responsibilities," which include defending the "pillars of our civilization": our "families and schools and religious congregations." What is more, he warned, America can only be strong if we "value the institution of marriage." Citing the threat of activist judges poised to impose gay marriage on a reluctant nation, Bush vowed to "defend the sanctity of marriage." Through these remarks, Bush made clear his desire to put values at the center of the public debate in 2004. The political calculation hardly seems difficult in light of presumed public prejudices. According to national polls, Republicans are preferred to Democrats by a margin of 22 percentage points when it comes to promoting strong moral values (45 percent to 23 percent); it's an advantage that extends to almost all family-related areas,...

"We"--Not "Me"

Distrust of government is down and the public is clearly looking for an expanded governmental role in a vast range of areas related to the September 11 attacks. How else can we explain the big debate on airline safety? The U.S. Senate wants to federalize security workers and the U.S. House wants to subject them to intense regulation independent of the airlines. Federalize or regulate? This is a Democratic dream. But the opportunity for Democrats goes well beyond the public's support for a more expansive government. During the two months following the attacks, my associates and I listened to people in 23 focus groups all across the country. The emerging mood and values in this new period--with a strong emphasis on unity, coming together, community, seriousness of purpose, freedom of choice, and tolerance--reflect the instinctive impulses of Democrats surely more than they do Republicans'. Indeed, the short-term and consumerist perspective inherent in the Republicans' aggressive tax-cut...

After the Republican Surge

On the heels of a major conservative surge, Republicans have overplayed their political hand and created an opportunity the Democrats can seize.

M ost Democrats have a hard time being optimistic these days, and it's easy to understand why. The 1994 midterm election produced a swing to the Republicans and a new nationalization of politics that undercut Democrats who had survived in Republican districts and states. A review of polling data suggests that a conservative surge was in evidence as early as mid-1993, as ideological conservatives mobilized against the national Democratic government and its agenda. Three groups in particular--evangelical Christians, lower-income voters, and seniors--rushed to the Republicans, shifting the electoral balance against the Democrats. But for those able to see through the smoke of battle, there is reason for hope. The conservative surge was a reaction to the defining first year of the Clinton presidency. This is a different moment, and there is plenty of evidence of emergent disillusion with the Republican agenda, leaving Democrats positioned to reclaim many of the voters lost in 1994...

The Mythology of Centrism

Pundits have misinterpreted Tony Blair's and Bill Clinton's victories as centrism triumphant. But voters chose leaders committed to stopping Thatcherism and Reaganism and restoring broad prosperity.

W hen Tony Blair and Bill Clinton held a joint press conference in the Rose Garden at 10 Downing Street in London on May 29, they might just as well have been standing in a place called the "radical center" or "dead center," to judge from the accounts of the American press. The New York Times , for example, wrote that Clinton and Blair shared an "unabashed moderation," while the Washington Post reported on the statesmen's "moves to the center." Of course, it is hardly surprising that the press accounts focused on centrism when the two world leaders themselves took turns scorning "doctrine" and "ideology" and applauding "fiscal responsibility" and "prudence." For many on both sides of the Atlantic, the Democrats' breakthrough election in 1992, followed by Labour's breakthrough in 1997, represented the successful pursuit of a "more moderate market niche"—the triumph of "electability," in Joe Klein's characterization. But reducing these breakthrough elections to the triumph of...

Democratic Possibilities

Emphasizing work and family could revitalize the Democratic Party. But only if progressives seize the moment.

T his political era, properly understood, offers great opportunity for progressive Democrats. The conservatives ascendant in both parties are more intent on budget cutting and attacking government than on addressing the real needs of families, who face extraordinary challenges in a new, unsettling time. A new, family-centered politics can define and revitalize the Democratic Party, just as earlier defining struggles associated the party with security for working people and the expansion of individual rights—but only if Democrats maximize the moment. The 1996 election seemed to confirm the national frustration with politics. To be sure, Gingrich's conservative "revolution" met its Thermidor, as voters repudiated right-wing attacks on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, federal education programs, and national environmental safeguards. But a lower fraction of citizens voted than in any election since 1924. Since 1996, neither the second Clinton administration nor the re-elected...