The 1990s and Beyond
An observable pattern of twentieth-century U.S. electoral politics is that after the rigors of war, the voters have removed the party of war. Woodrow Wilson was exchanged for Warren Harding at the end of World War I. The New Deal lost its congressional majority in 1946. After Korea, Truman was ousted in favor of Eisenhower and a Republican Congress. Vietnam cost LBJ the possibility of a second full term. At the end of the Cold War, Democrats regained the presidency and Republicans, Congress, reversing the dominant Cold War—era polarity of divided government.
Walter Lippmann, from whose 1914 critical essay on the limitations of U.S. public opinion and domestic politics this section derives its title, saw the United States as an inward-oriented nation, unwilling to take its global position of leadership and exercise international power. 1 Lippmann, like John Dewey and many other prominent liberal and internationalist intellectuals supported the United States'entry into war in 1917. Lippmann later championed the U.S. cause in the Cold War as well. Yet the voters had reelected Wilson in 1916 for the very reason that “he kept us out of war.”
In U.S. history, only World War II and the Gulf War received consensual popular support. Perhaps in the 1990s public opinion favors a re-emphasis on domestic needs, for butter rather than guns. In a study of the “angry American, ” Tolchin notes rising insecurity, anxiety about the consequences of economic change, and popular antipathy to globalization. 2 Yet policy in both the Bush and Clinton administrations remained decisively internationalist in trade and military affairs even when it may have been politically costly for both to pursue such an agenda. At least one writer in the business press wonders if Clinton's trade and economic policies will lead to a serious breach between the administration and the rest of the Democratic Party. 3 McWilliams argues, with reference to Clinton's