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Unformatted text preview: 88 Politic: by Other Mean: institutionally heterogeneous structure. Traditional patronage- oriented party organizations remained important in many states and localities, particularly in the Northeast and lower Midwest.14 Labor unions continued to play an important role in party affairs.15 At the same time a number of federal, state, and local bureaucra- cies had come to be major Democratic party bastions. THE 19605 AND 19705 During the 19605 and 19705 traditional party organizations were almost completely obliterated, labor unions were weakened, and the Democratic party became more fully dependent on its base of power in the domestic state. The efforts of a coalition of middle- class liberals and blacks to enhance their influence in American government and politics were largely responsible for this shift. To this end they abandoned accommodations in which they had for— merly participated and allies with whom they formerly had been associated in the realms of civil rights and social policy, national se— curity policy, and regulatory policy. In addition, they sought to rewrite the rules of the Democratic party and to alter the admin- istrative procedures of the federal government so as to increase their own influence. Civil Rights and Social Policy One of the major accommodations underlying the New Deal coalition involved civil rights. Southern votes were crucial to the Democratic party’s fortunes in the 19305 and 19403, and therefore Roosevelt had avoided challenging the southern caste system. The emergence of a vigorous black civil rights movement in the 19505 and 19605, however, made it impossible to ignore the issue of race any longer. Northern Democratic liberals were sympathetic to the plight of blacks and, at the same time, found in the issue of civil rights a means of discrediting their opponents within the Democratic party—initially southern conservatives and subse- quently working-class ethnics in the North. A similar mix of con- The Democrat: and Ike Domestic S late 89 siderations underlay the urban programs of the New Frontier and Great Society. ‘ A5 a number of scholars have noted, the major urban programs of the New Frontier and Great Society were drafted not in response to demands from their presumed beneficiaries—black slum dwellers—but rather on the initiative of presidentially appointed task forces.16 The members of these task forces were mainly “pro- fessional reformers": academics, foundation officials, senior civil servants, representatives of professional associations, and so forth.17 Presidents Kennedy and Johnson were receptive to proposals of this sort if for no other reason than to retain the support of this im- portant element of the party’s national constituency. Middle-class liberals were considerably less influential on the local level. In many large cities after World War II a stable ac- commodation had been achieved among party politicians, busi- nessmen, union leaders, newspaper publishers, middle—income homeowners, and the ethnic working classes. Writing in the early 1960s, Robert Salisbury described this pattern as “the new con- vergence of power," and these forces roughly converged around a program of urban renewal in the central business district for the business community and construction unions, low taxes for home— owners, and secure jobs in the municipal civil service for the lower middle class and upwardly mobile members of the working class.18 Upper—middle—class professionals had some influence over munic- ipal agencies, although their influence was constrained by the de— sire of mayors to keep taxes low and of municipal employees to control their own work routines and determine the standards that would govern the hiring, promotion, and firing of civil servants. Upper-middle—class liberals wanted to increase their influence over municipal agencies; to this end they sought to use the access they enjoyed to the Kennedy and Johnson administrations to cir— cumvent the local convergence of power. The presidential task forces that drafted New Frontier and Great Society legislation ar— gued that municipal bureaucracies did not command the resources, the talent, or the initiative that were necessary to solve the “urban ...
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