Can you think of a time in this century,” asked a Democratic party activist, “when the Democrats were in worse shape than they are now?” “Yes,” I answered, “the 1920s.” One would have to go back to the uninspired Democratic presidential candidacies of James Cox in 1920 and John W. Davis in 1924 to find a period in which intellectuals were as cut off from Democratic party politics as they’ve been in the eighties. The separation is so severe that even after a decade of being shut out of the White House, the Democratic National Committee hasn’t been able to tap the intellectual talent to create a policy arm for the party.
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