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Presidential Archetypes
#1
One interesting theory that I've come across while researching political realignments, which usually occur every 40 years or so and almost always during Awakening and Crisis turnings, is how well the Roosevelt and Reagan eras line up with each other. Even some presidents elected before the former fit the model. The presidents seem to have a counterpart of the opposing party 40 years before them that fits a distinct role and phase in the overall realignment. There are six of these archetypes, and they are defined as:

The Reformer – This president is elected in a sweeping landslide that realigns the electorate and achieves a national consensus. They set the governing priorities for the next half of the saeculum, and involve drastic changes in domestic policies and foreign situations. Future presidents may differ in small ways but largely operate within the boundaries of the party system before the next Reformer in the cycle. (Examples: Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan)

The Consolidator – Because the Reformer was a popular enough president to change the direction of the nation, the public feels comfortable in electing a second president of that party in a row. They have limited domestic achievements and experience a wane in popularity, unable to live up to the glamour of their predecessors. However, they may leave office with significant foreign accomplishments. (Examples: Harry Truman, George Bush Sr.)

The Consensual – After over at least a decade of one-party domination of the presidency, voters are ready for a change but remain skeptical of a return to the old system. For the first time in a generation, a president of the opposing party serves a successful eight years, but adopts many fiscal and social positions of the other side. Future members of the party look back on this era with mixed feelings, but it puts them in their strongest position since the realigner came to power. (Examples: Dwight Eisenhower, Bill Clinton)

The Accomplisher – This is the halfway point of the new party system. In a close election, the dominant political party retakes control of the White House. Having been a member of the generation that first challenged and changed the system as they came of age, they govern as a true believer in the cause and accomplish many of the same objectives. At the same time, they are met by an opposite generation which grew up under their dominance and are now being challenged in turn. During an eventful eight years tainted by national tragedy and foreign quagmire, the discredited party again loses the White House. (Examples: John F. Kennedy & Lyndon Johnson, George W. Bush)

The Precursory – With the current era now decades old, change is inevitable yet resisted. The incumbent president is in an odd position of setting the tone of the new political era but being restrained in maximizing changes to their full effect. Nonetheless, they are a window to the coming reforms, and what they achieve serves as a model for what is to come. (Examples: Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon & Gerald Ford, Barack Obama)

The Disaster – The Precursory is followed by a brief revival of the once dominant party. They are the last gasps of an old era, vehemently opposed by a newer generation with a starkly different vision. Adjustments that were made over the past forty years are no longer enough to solve the problems of the next forty, which vary in intensity but all signify a dead age. These presidents often only serve one term, although it might be possible for an overarching phase to last longer when looking for leaders in a Crisis era. They are succeeded by a new realigner. (Examples: Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter, Donald Trump?)

If the pattern continues, it may become a reliable indicator of where the next 80 years (otherwise known as the saeculum) will take the United States. The 2020s and 2060s are likely to be the setting of the next realigning elections, whereas the 2040s and 2080s are poised to be periods of great political unraveling in various forms, before the cycle starts anew again at some point around 2100. Despite the half-saeculum length of each political era, this aligns quite well with generational theory when you account for slight differences in tone. In 1952, Eisenhower won in a resounding landslide in the 1T, while Clinton was aided in 1992 by the strongest ever third-party bid in Ross Perot, a signature of a 3T. What are your thoughts on this?
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#2
Trying to use six neutral colors:

orange for a reformer
green for a consolidator
indigo for a consensual
magenta for an accomplisher
brown for a precursor
[b][b]black[/b] for a [/b]disaster

T. Roosevelt
[b]Taft[/b]
Wilson
[b]Harding/Coolidge[/b]
Hoover
[b]FDR[/b]
[b][b]Truman[/b][/b]
[b][b][b]Eisenhower[/b][/b][/b]
[b][b][b][b]JFK/LBJ[/b][/b][/b][/b]
[b][b][b][b][b]Nixon/Ford[/b][/b][/b][/b][/b]
[b][b][b][b][b][b]Carter[/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b]
[b][b][b][b][b][b][b]Reagan[/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b]
[b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b]George Bush the Elder[/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b]
[b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b]Clinton[/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b]
[b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b]George Bush the Younger[/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b]
[b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b]Obama[/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b]
[b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b][b]Trump[/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b][/b]




Interesting theory. One might expect six phases between Presidential types, although two Presidents might fit fit one phase. I'd like to go back to Teddy Roosevelt, but what would I call Taft? A consolidator? I am going to call Harding and Coolidge accomplishers for promoting an eight-year time of corporate-driven reforms, with government clearly following the lead of Big Business. Flaws of Harding/Coolidge vision may have stuck America in a disaster mode due to a speculative boom that went bust without the then-President (Hoover) having obvious solutions. 

Maybe the theory is not so well defined before 1900. Is McKinley a disaster, and how could I treat the split Presidency of Cleveland with that of Benjamin Harrison? Maybe technology drives the cycle. 

Now, is Trump the new Hoover? Hardly. Hoover was a promise of more of the same of Harding/Coolidge with a bit more polish. Hoover was squeaky-clean and process-oriented. Trump may have gotten his reputation, as did Hoover, as a businessman... but Hoover played up his intellectual achievements and asserted the value of intellectual achievements in others... and Trump is the most anti-intellectual President in a long time. Hoover got caught in an economic meltdown because of the support for a speculative boom. Trump has been stuck with the Obama recovery even if he loathes Obama. Above all, Hoover won in a landslide to the extent of winning states such as Florida, Texas, and Virginia that did not ordinarily go Republican at the time, and would not do so for another 24 years. Trump got elected with a strong negative margin in the popular vote, winning by winning the "right" votes. Trump is a monstrously cruel, corrupt, abrasive, dissolute person. Is he the new Carter? Carter ran into some bad luck, most likely because he got caught in a bad time for American foreign relations in the Cold War. As bad as the collapse of America's ally in South Vietnam was, the consolidation of Marxist-Leninist regimes in Ethiopia and the former Portuguese colonial empire did not help him. Then came the fall of a once-strong ally in Reza Shah Pahlavi II and the hostage situation... and Carter had no easy cure for stagflation, but Reagan offered one in compelling millions of young adults to lower their expectations to working harder for less and giving up any reasonable chance of economic improvement. 

Things can get really bad for Trump. Let the economy tank, and the sole credibility that he has with political moderates disappears. Like a typical demagogue of other democracies that go bad, Trump has promised to hurt people. At that he has delivered, and people who despised him in 2016 will continue to despise him.

Donald Trump is the most important person in America, if for all the wrong reasons.  so why do we elect what looks like a disaster? Maybe there are phases in history in which Americans must either support more of the same when such brings calamity. That explains Hoover; people did not recognize that the speculative boom was but illusory prosperity because it meant great gains for a few and hardships for many. If you are of a certain age (probably 60+), you can probably ask yourself whether you remember any people who waxed nostalgic about the 1920's. Not the farm family I was from! Not factory workers and store clerks of the time! 

OK, Trump is not more of the same of Obama; Hillary Clinton was likely to be that. But Obama didn't have disasters awaiting her. The economy would have hummed along as under Trump, and her foreign policy would have been a recent standard. On the other hand she might be less successful than Trump on foreign policy because she would not go along with the winners (such as Putin). She could have easily become the "new Jimmy Carter" at worst, perhaps setting America up for someone who might 'reform' America into a Christian and Corporate State. Just think of how that would be -- only 2% of the people really matter, their gain, indulgence, and power (yes, I admit being a broken record on that) as the sole legitimate objects of life for 95% of Americans -- except to receive delights in Heaven for compliance and damnation for any failure to comply.

Maybe we need at times to have our myths shattered and learn the hard way the raw realities about life while we sti8lll have some chance to effect change through electoral politics.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#3
Sorry about the messy color=-and-bolding scheme, butI thought that I was going to get something else.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#4
No problem, I like the color scheme. At the heart of the realignment theory is a president's role in the process. There are recognizable differences between Trump and Hoover/Carter (especially so with the latter) but so is the case for Obama and Nixon. Changes in personal details are, in my opinion, a small hiccup in an overall process.

Technology could easily be a part of the quicker pacing, maybe because of a more readily available access to information over the last century. What took almost 80 years to completely transform is now done twice in a lifetime; going from Lincoln-McKinley to Roosevelt-Reagan in the same span of time is a significant shift. Tech and economic innovations have gone through leaps and bounds since the time of the Gilded Era. It would explain why going from Jeffersonian agrarianism to Lincoln industrialism took as long as it did, as the parties changed with them. The service economy sped along quickly after the New Deal in contrast.

In fact, the generational change in economic structures are part of a main theme in a thread over on Election Atlas, titled "Between Two Majorities," that introduced me to the causes of these realignments. It was also how I discovered TFT since Strauss-Howe comes up in the comments a few times. Not sure what the policy is on external links here but I can send you the link in PM if you'd like, I found it to be a fascinating read.
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#5
(12-21-2019, 01:13 AM)ResidentArtist Wrote: No problem, I like the color scheme. At the heart of the realignment theory is a president's role in the process. There are recognizable differences between Trump and Hoover/Carter (especially so with the latter) but so is the case for Obama and Nixon. Changes in personal details are, in my opinion, a small hiccup in an overall process.

Manias, crazes, and fads happen. People can be very, very wrong en masse. Elites can be effective in getting what they want, but they often prove destructive in their personal and political success. It may be that being in the right place and time puts one in the leading role (for the time) of history. 

I notice, as Howe and Strauss did not point out in 1989, that if the 4T has a Regeneracy as a focus in which society redefines itself on new values for the ages (and this regeneracy can be benign as in FDR's Hundred Days or monstrously evil as in Hitler's Gleichschaltung) something must have eroded severely beforehand. Maybe the culture has degraded as in Christopher Isherwood's Berlin Stories (source of the musical Cabaret) about as the economy collapses... or a culture of greed and inequality as in the 1920's has led to a speculative boom that cannot support itself. The last phase of a 3T is an ugly time of bad business, bad politics, depraved culture, inequity, and bad morals. The world is consummately fortunate that the Second (1915) KKK, which was fascist before Mussolini invented the word, imploded before the stock markets imploded in 1929. The Nazis got to keep growing.

I remind people that although nostalgia is now a big business, there was practically no nostalgia for the supposed halcyon days of the 1920's. Maybe people outgrew it, or people drew a lesson that that time was itself a (choose metaphor -- ticking time-bomb, volcano about to erupt, calm before the storm). Maybe it was the character of the Lost, who didn't want youth imitating their youthful indiscretions (including the Klan). 1920's politics was a Last Hurrah of the Gilded ethos, and nothing disproved that as did the economic meltdown of 1929-1932.

Note well: blunders of all kinds seem so obviously wrong after the fact, but when they happen they are highly seductive.    


Quote:Technology could easily be a part of the quicker pacing, maybe because of a more readily available access to information over the last century. What took almost 80 years to completely transform is now done twice in a lifetime; going from Lincoln-McKinley to Roosevelt-Reagan in the same span of time is a significant shift. Tech and economic innovations have gone through leaps and bounds since the time of the Gilded Era. It would explain why going from Jeffersonian agrarianism to Lincoln industrialism took as long as it did, as the parties changed with them. The service economy sped along quickly after the New Deal in contrast.

Information moves faster, and people are more mobile than they used to be. People can move to where the high-paying jobs are along with brutal rents such as New York City or Silicon Valley, and then retreat to the rural South... or as many do now, Mexico, where the cost of living is much lower and one can live like an aristocrat on the proceeds of selling off American real estate. We have more formal education, and more people understand statistics, accounting, finance, etc.    

Quote:In fact, the generational change in economic structures are part of a main theme in a thread over on Election Atlas, titled "Between Two Majorities," that introduced me to the causes of these realignments. It was also how I discovered TFT since Strauss-Howe comes up in the comments a few times. Not sure what the policy is on external links here but I can send you the link in PM if you'd like, I found it to be a fascinating read.

I will need to read that thread.  If I see Donald Trump as a disaster it is because he is the last hurrah of an ideology that, however, discreditable, still has powerful backers who have yet to be ruined or rendered politically impotent. In the event of a revolution that topples what we now have, such people will be the ones first before the firing squad.  

Here is a big part of the problem: we are at the end of an age in which the production of more goods itself creates prosperity. It may be economic canon that satiation of human needs is impossible, but glut is certain when either (1) a non-market economy fails to take account of diminishing returns, or (2) productivity overpowers basic needs.  The current solution of the American economic elite is monopolization that creates scarcity from which the elites can profiteer, and limitation of opportunity so that the elites can keep imposing their unimaginative command-and-control systems of management. The End of Scarcity may have seemed the hope of the ages but even it has consequences. No technological fix, and no miracle of productivity can offset the effect of oppression.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#6
(12-20-2019, 05:29 PM)ResidentArtist Wrote: One interesting theory that I've come across while researching political realignments, which usually occur every 40 years or so and almost always during Awakening and Crisis turnings, is how well the Roosevelt and Reagan eras line up with each other. Even some presidents elected before the former fit the model. The presidents seem to have a counterpart of the opposing party 40 years before them that fits a distinct role and phase in the overall realignment. There are six of these archetypes, and they are defined as:

The Reformer – This president is elected in a sweeping landslide that realigns the electorate and achieves a national consensus. They set the governing priorities for the next half of the saeculum, and involve drastic changes in domestic policies and foreign situations. Future presidents may differ in small ways but largely operate within the boundaries of the party system before the next Reformer in the cycle. (Examples: Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan)

The Consolidator – Because the Reformer was a popular enough president to change the direction of the nation, the public feels comfortable in electing a second president of that party in a row. They have limited domestic achievements and experience a wane in popularity, unable to live up to the glamour of their predecessors. However, they may leave office with significant foreign accomplishments. (Examples: Harry Truman, George Bush Sr.)

The Consensual – After over at least a decade of one-party domination of the presidency, voters are ready for a change but remain skeptical of a return to the old system. For the first time in a generation, a president of the opposing party serves a successful eight years, but adopts many fiscal and social positions of the other side. Future members of the party look back on this era with mixed feelings, but it puts them in their strongest position since the realigner came to power. (Examples: Dwight Eisenhower, Bill Clinton)

The Accomplisher – This is the halfway point of the new party system. In a close election, the dominant political party retakes control of the White House. Having been a member of the generation that first challenged and changed the system as they came of age, they govern as a true believer in the cause and accomplish many of the same objectives. At the same time, they are met by an opposite generation which grew up under their dominance and are now being challenged in turn. During an eventful eight years tainted by national tragedy and foreign quagmire, the discredited party again loses the White House. (Examples: John F. Kennedy & Lyndon Johnson, George W. Bush)

The Precursory – With the current era now decades old, change is inevitable yet resisted. The incumbent president is in an odd position of setting the tone of the new political era but being restrained in maximizing changes to their full effect. Nonetheless, they are a window to the coming reforms, and what they achieve serves as a model for what is to come. (Examples: Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon & Gerald Ford, Barack Obama)

The Disaster – The Precursory is followed by a brief revival of the once dominant party. They are the last gasps of an old era, vehemently opposed by a newer generation with a starkly different vision. Adjustments that were made over the past forty years are no longer enough to solve the problems of the next forty, which vary in intensity but all signify a dead age. These presidents often only serve one term, although it might be possible for an overarching phase to last longer when looking for leaders in a Crisis era. They are succeeded by a new realigner. (Examples: Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter, Donald Trump?)

If the pattern continues, it may become a reliable indicator of where the next 80 years (otherwise known as the saeculum) will take the United States. The 2020s and 2060s are likely to be the setting of the next realigning elections, whereas the 2040s and 2080s are poised to be periods of great political unraveling in various forms, before the cycle starts anew again at some point around 2100. Despite the half-saeculum length of each political era, this aligns quite well with generational theory when you account for slight differences in tone. In 1952, Eisenhower won in a resounding landslide in the 1T, while Clinton was aided in 1992 by the strongest ever third-party bid in Ross Perot, a signature of a 3T. What are your thoughts on this?

I have seen this pattern before under a different set of names, I think. It seems plausible, but the correlations are irregular when you look further back, although advocates make the case. Some presidents like Coolidge are skipped over, showing the irregularity of the rhythm. And George W Bush hardly qualifies as an accomplisher. He only fits the national tragedy part. In fact, his administration was nothing but a series of national tragedies, in part caused by himself. 

It also looks like the realigner, if (s)he runs in 2020, will probably not win in a "landslide," and may well lose, because the opposition candidates are weak. An FDR or Reagan is not in the wings. Luck of the draw, and the fortunes of who runs, it appears. The only two candidates who can beat Trump in 2020 are so old they may only serve one term, and who knows if the party survives in office afterward; it may well not. But somehow, I think the "realignment" will happen anyway and the 2020s will set the nation in a new direction mostly opposite to the Reagan neo-liberal one, which if anything, was a "disaster" from start to finish. That may well signify a larger cycle at work, but who knows.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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#7
I thought that "accomplisher" wasn't quite an accurate label, but that was just how I remembered it being written. Something like "The Crusader" might be more applicable, since both Bush and Kennedy/Johnson represented the young generation that elected the realigner before governing on those principles in midlife. Both were regarded as mostly failures by history in large part by the unraveling party system, although JFK was spared from this fate. Had he lived it's probable his public image would have eventually deteriorated anyway because of his place in the cycle, possibly seen as too soft on Vietnam.

As for a landslide win, the 2024 election is the one to watch even if a Democrat wins in 2020. It's easy to forget now that 1980 polling was close before Mondale lost in an even greater blowout four years later. I wouldn't doubt we could be headed for a progressive decade in the 2020s since the pattern implies this kind of change.
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#8
(12-27-2019, 10:53 AM)ResidentArtist Wrote: I thought that "accomplisher" wasn't quite an accurate label, but that was just how I remembered it being written. Something like "The Crusader" might be more applicable, since both Bush and Kennedy/Johnson represented the young generation that elected the realigner before governing on those principles in midlife. Both were regarded as mostly failures by history in large part by the unraveling party system, although JFK was spared from this fate. Had he lived it's probable his public image would have eventually deteriorated anyway because of his place in the cycle, possibly seen as too soft on Vietnam.

As for a landslide win, the 2024 election is the one to watch even if a Democrat wins in 2020. It's easy to forget now that 1980 polling was close before Mondale lost in an even greater blowout four years later. I wouldn't doubt we could be headed for a progressive decade in the 2020s since the pattern implies this kind of change.

Good analysis. The Crusader might be a good label. One correction though, if you think the young generation elected Reagan or even Bush. Stats showed that the boomers, especially core Boomers rather than Jonesers, were less likely to vote for Reagan than other generations. No generation elects a president; that's the work of 3 or 4 of them.

I doubt JFK would have ever been seen as a failure. He was able to make the best of things with his charm and charisma, and his cautious adroitness in policy, which the oafish, stubborn and ponderous LBJ could never do. But it's academic; JFK was destined to die in office just when he did by any measure of the cosmic fates.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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#9
This sort of thing has been done with Stephen Skowronek's Political Time model.

https://spot.colorado.edu/~mcguire/skow2

http://firstyear2017.org/essay/what-time-is-it.html
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#10
(12-28-2019, 12:48 PM)Mikebert Wrote: This sort of thing has been done with Stephen Skowronek's Political Time model.

https://spot.colorado.edu/~mcguire/skow2

http://firstyear2017.org/essay/what-time-is-it.html

It is now too late to contemplate how Hillary Clinton would have done things differently.Trump looks disjunctive, but at the least (for him) he has the Party full of stalwart supporters. This said, he is a President that about 55% of the American public despises, demographics cutting into his core support, gross misunderstanding of the political system, and gigantic lapses of ethics.

He has only one way in which to get re-elected, and that will require ruthlessness that no prior President has shown. He must compel the public to accept fabrications as fact, and perhaps cultivate a climate of fear that gets to basic insecurities (status loss, economic ruin, and ethnic purity) that people do not admit that they have. He must splinter his opposition.

Ask again in eleven months and six days.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#11
(12-28-2019, 12:48 PM)Mikebert Wrote: This sort of thing has been done with Stephen Skowronek's Political Time model.

https://spot.colorado.edu/~mcguire/skow2

http://firstyear2017.org/essay/what-time-is-it.html

I don't know, but it's probably the same model, or an offshoot thereof.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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