RSS
Republicans love the '50s, while Democrats prefer the '90s
Even time travel is partisan in America
 
It's 34 vs. 42.
It's 34 vs. 42. Bettmann, Oscar White/CORBIS

This week, The Economist published a poll that provided some insights into Americans' time-travel preferences.

The question was, "Which decade of the 20th century would you most like to go back to?"

Turns out that Republicans "preferred the morally uncomplicated 1950s," while Democrats "tended to opt for Bill Clinton's 1990s." (Barely anyone wanted to visit the 1930s, presumably because Hoovervilles don't make for great vacation destinations.)

So why do Democrats want to return to the '90s, while Republicans want to make like Marty McFly?

If IFC's Portlandia is to be believed, the 1990s were a hipster paradise, currently preserved in the cultural amber that is Portland:

The '90s were the source of some of our most reliable liberal stereotypes: The coffee snob, the skateboarding slacker, the gratuitous liberal arts major — none of which are mutually exclusive.

Perhaps more important to progressives, it was a time when the country had a booming economy under a Democratic president.

Former President Bill Clinton remains as popular with liberals as ever. Last year, right before the Democratic National Convention in September, 90 percent of Democrats had a favorable impression of Clinton, compared to only 44 percent of Republicans, according to a Gallup poll.

The 1950s, on the other hand, was the time of Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican. It was also the decade that William F. Buckley founded the National Review.

Last year, conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg used that publication to complain that liberals constantly cited the 1950s as the "belle époque of reasonable conservatism," mainly as a way of disparaging today's GOP.

The Economist poll, however, could indicate that conservatives really do think of the 1950s as a golden age, an era marked by post-war economic expansion and American ascendancy on the global stage, all of which preceded Vietnam, the sexual revolution, and the race riots of the '60s.

Of course, the results could have less to do with political preferences than with simple demographics and good old nostalgia. The poll showed that the 1950s just so happened be the most popular decade for people over 65 years old, an age group that tends to skew Republican.

And the demographic that most loved the '90s? You guessed it: Millennials.

 
Keith Wagstaff is a staff writer at TheWeek.com covering politics and current events. He has previously written for such publications as TIME, Details, VICE, and the Village Voice.

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week