… For the past fifty years, the Democratic Party has been the moving force behind rights movements generally, including, prominently, immigrant rights. Over that same time period, the Republican Party has been, and still is, the political arm of those opposed to the expansion of civil rights. This division has been a mixed blessing for both parties.
The political advantage of pro-rights positioning for the Democrats is that it has put the party at the forefront of social and cultural movements that have steadily gained public acceptance. The payoff was evident in Bill Clinton’s victories in 1992 and 1996 and in Obama’s in 2008 and 2012.
The political disadvantage emerges when a majority of voters see the Democratic Party as too far out in front of the electorate — as the proponent of new rights that do not yet have majority support. Republicans reaped the benefits of Democratic overreach in the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan; the “wave” midterm elections of 1994, 2010 and 2014; and the Nov. 8 election of Donald Trump. CONT.
Thomas B. Edsall, New York Times