Francis Berry’s comparison of Donald Trump to Jesse Jackson is obnoxious on its face. But, okay, let’s take a quick look. The basic idea is that Jackson led in the polls throughout much of 1987 and yet he wasn’t really prepared to be president and took stances on many issues that, regardless of intrinsic merit, were far too unpopular with the general electorate to risk making him the Democratic Party’s nominee.

See the similarity, now?

The next step is to see what the Democratic Establishment did about the threat of Jesse Jackson and his coalition.

For Berry, this was a process. The ultimate solution was crafted by the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and involved addressing the party’s weaknesses. In particular, the party had to stand up to the teachers’ unions and support charter schools, stand up to the industrial unions and support free trade, and get tough with poor people and criminals. This meant the party had to reform welfare and send a generation of minorities to prison for drug crimes.

All of this was done, and yet it didn’t prevent the eventual ascendency of Jesse Jackson’s coalition or their ultimate rejection of most of this corrective action.

That’s Berry’s story, anyway, and I’m sure you’ll want to quibble about the details.

His point is that the Democrats dealt with their Jesse Jackson problem but they didn’t make it go away.

Donald Trump and his priorities, by contrast, are unlikely to enjoy a similar revival twenty to twenty-five years down the line. Sideline him now, and he and his issues will go straight to the dustbin of history. Demographic changes will make sure of that.

So, have heart, Republican moderates wherever you are, you won’t have to deal with this problem twice.

There are some pieces of wisdom in this piece and some food for thought, but it’s needlessly risible.

Here’s your first clue that there’s something essential missing from this analysis: who and where are the newly ascendant wing of the Republican Party? What’s their future?

I don’t see a future.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at