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What went wrong?

Gregg Reese | 4/10/2013, 5 p.m.

Decades later, Williams agreed with this view. "White Liberals have much power, prestige and position to lose if Black voters begin to split their ticket or look for other options."

Also in attendance at this screening and the following discussion was Marc T. Little. The East Coast transplant and USC law grad described his own pilgrimage towards conservatism during the 1990s as a break from the inherited allegiance towards the Democratic Party that was part and parcel of his African American heritage.

"Too many voters vote party because they inherited the vote from their parents or grandparents. Voters must think about their vote and align that vote with their values."

"I did my research, not on a political party, but on my own beliefs and how they line up with the Word of God," he remembers.

"That research led me to be firmly pro-life, a supporter of traditional marriage, a supporter of legal immigration, and a supporter of limited government, among other things."

One particularly vexing issue he had with the Democrats was their promotion of anti-poverty and other social programs, resulting in a recruitment of food stamp and relief recipients. In short, he claims this amounts to a government that trains people to "work the system."

A Clinton supporter in the 1992 election, Little began a political metamorphosis through a period of self-examination and contemplation.

"For me, that diligence led me to the Republican Party, and then to vote for George W. Bush in 2000."
Rebranding versus core values

"Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right."

--Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain.
Political parties, and the candidates they select, may be likened to merchandise being prepared for presentation before the general consumer base.
The Republican 1980s stranglehold on the Oval Office (two terms for Ronald Reagan, one for George H.W. Bush) was broken by the Democratic embrace of a charismatic Bill Clinton, whose centrist policies were attractive enough to draw a voter base outside the liberal mindset of his core constituency.

This successful formula involved a blending of fiscal conservatism and liberal social programs. In brief, it involved adopting enough of the opposition's principles to seize control of a majority voter base, by presenting itself as a pragmatic, more sensible option on Election Day.

This methodology proved so successful that it transcended American politics by cultivating adherents in Brazil, Germany, and most especially the United Kingdom, whose former Prime Minister Tony Blair has been among the most articulate advocates of what is now called "the Third Way," embracing what he called " ... progressive politics distinguishing itself from conservatism of left or right."

The success of such a transition is, of course, hinged upon a willingness of the party faithful to adapt to a platform attractive enough to appeal to a wide cross section of the voting public. Toward that end, a campaign also requires a candidate who can present the party message in a desirable fashion, and is willing to distance himself or herself from the more extreme factions of their political party. Bill Clinton felt obliged to repudiate Hip Hop artist/social activist Sister Souljah's more caustic remarks (and, indirectly, her advocate, the Rev. Jesse Jackson), especially in the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles uprising and the Rodney King beat-down.