American politics - follows a 30 year cycle?

I think Presidential politics is simple, and the national economy is fairly predicatable, also. The USA has been operating on a 30 yr cycle since at least 1920. Every 30 yrs there is one decade with a conservative, Republican leadership. This is followed by one decade with a liberal, Democratic leadership. Next comes one decade with
moderate, mixed politics and a stagnat economy. Here is what I mean:

1920s, 1950s, 1980s - Republican, conservative presidents. Economic growth and prosperity. Roaring 20s, chicken in every pot. Peace and prosperity.
1930s, 1960s, 1990s - Democratic, liberal presidents. Not much growth in the 30s, but there was in the 60s and 90s. Radical, turbulent times. War and unrest,
but less so in the 90s…
1940s, 1970s, ( and 2000s to come)- Moderate, uncertain. Economic recession, stagnation, malaise. The country goes adrift with a mixture of Repub and Dem leaders.
Although the 1940s had Dem presidents, Truman was fairly moderate. Political confusion: Dewey defeats Truman mistake. 2000 election fiasco. No big wars.

I have heard of the Kuznet cycle, which is a socio-economic theory that the US economy works on a cycle like this. I’m not an expert on it, though, and I’m not
quite sure how to fit in the 1929 crash and great depression of the 1930s. That didn’t repeat itself every 30 yrs.

Anyway, if the cycle continues we can predict the near future:
-2000’s will have economic slow down and no strong Presidential leadership, as we have seen the start of already. Repubs barely won 2000; Dems could likely
win 2004 and maybe 2008. It will likely fluctuate as the partys take turn.
-2010’s will be Republican glory days again. The Dems may as well not bother running in 2012 and 2016 since they won’t win.
-2020’s will swing Democratic again. They will win the White House in 2020, 2024 and maybe 2028.

What do you think of my theory and predictions?

Well, it’s not bad, but part of the cycle is thrown off by World War II. The late 1940s economic stagnation was largely a result of the enormous deficit that had resulted from that war.

Economically, some argue that the United States does not have the ability to drag itself out of a recession or depression the way it traditionally has, through massive deficit spending. That’s because we already have a massive deficit. I think that if the economy turns turtle like it did in the 1930s or the 1970s, America will either suffer through it for a much, much longer period of time than they did in the past, or they will have to come up with a completely different way of solving the problem.

Naturally, that will completely alter the political landscape.

Actually, we do not currently have a massive deficit, we have a surplus. Perhaps what you mean is that we have a massive DEBT, a slightly different concept.

Curious: Your cycle model falls apart even when examining the past. The only way you can keep it is through special pleading for decades that don’t fall into the pattern. Since future decades are therefore liable to need special pleading to explain why THEY won’t fall into the pattern, your model has no predictive value.

Another problem: you have a grand total of three cycles, and even there you have to plead special cases. Even if the cycle was perfect, I don’t think that statisticians/historians would grant much predictive power to such a small sample.


I think that the American society follows cycles, all right, but not predictable ones. If Clinton had managed to make it through his presidency with a big less scandal, Gore most likely would have made it to the office. And if Gore had a good term, another Democrat would have made it into office.

Conversely, if Clinton had had a much WORSE time in office, Gore would have lost big time.

One presidency affects the next. If things are good, people want it to stay good. If things are bad, people want it to CHANGE to good. And if things are just kinda so-so… well, we get election scandals.

It doesn’t matter if the guys in control are liberal, conservative, or some wacky amalgamation of the two… if the preceding guy did well, his favored successor will get into office, and if HE does well, his preferred successor will get into office… etc. etc. etc.

Well, according to The Fourth Turning, American culture (and hence American politics) actually follows an 80-year cycle.

Of course, the evidence for this cyclicism presented in The Fourth Turning is even more specious…

You know, if you removed other countrys influence on America(preferably by nuking them to oblivion) you could make cycles like these work.

I actually posted a thread on this once, but it died a quick and probably deserved death, as I never did explain myself clearly. In my own mind, I have the following (doubtlessly crackpot) scheme:

Hoover - Carter : the presidents under whom the economy definitively falls to pieces.
Roosevelt - Reagan: the presidents who pick up the pieces and change the debate, swinging it to the left or the right.
Truman - Bush I: the vice presidents who inherit the mantle of the previous dominant president, and continue their legacy.
Eisenhower - Clinton: the presidents of the party opposed to the consensus, who compromise with it and get along.
Kennedy - Bush II: barely elected presidents in the middle of the cycle who have a tougher time getting their agendas passed.

Predictive power: after this election, not much really. Last time Kennedy got killed and Johnson was elected in a landslide that probably had a lot to do with a sympathy vote. Presumably Bush won’t die, we won’t have the sympathy vote, so it’s anybody’s guess what happens in 2004.

So much for cycles.

Does anyone else think that it’s slightly ironic that we’re sitting around trying to mkae predictions about future presidential elections based entirely on political trends. Didn’t we just learn that the entire election cah hinge on things as simple as butterfly ballots, hanging chads, and a single Supreme Court Justice.

Real life is random?!!??

Oh man…

I think election 2000 was just as flukey as 1960 or 1992. What if Nixon decides to challenge the result in 1960? I’m sure he would have lost but it could have damaged Kennedy. I think Clinton lucked out big time in 1992 because Bush was riding the gulf war wave (91% approval rating) and the serious democrats figured they’d wait until 1996 to run and save a loss. On top of that you had the Perot factor. You can’t predict future races based on past races. That’s like those people who predict the AFC team will win the Super Bowl because there’s a Republican in the White House.