Atari Democrat

atari democrat


Atari Democrat, a phrase first popularized during the early 1980s, references both the video game brand Atari and Democratic legislators who suggested that the support and development of high tech and related businesses would stimulate the economy and create jobs. A 1984 article for ‘The Philadelphia Inquirer,’ defined the term as ‘a young liberal trying to push the party toward more involvement with high-tech solutions.’ Other commentators discussed a generation gap which developed during the 1980s between older liberals who maintained an interest in traditional visions of social liberalism and Atari Democrats who attempted to find a middle ground:

‘When the Atari Democrats first emerged in the early Reagan years, their commitments to free markets and investment won them much criticism from older liberals, who considered their neo-liberalism as warmed-over Reaganism. Mr. Leahy, who combines his environmentalism with an old-fashioned commitment to social programs, argues that the cutbacks of the Reagan years suggested that it had been a mistake for members of his Congressional class to take the old programs for granted. But some of the Atari Democrats argue that their commitment to innovative uses of markets and to the environment are complementary. Mr. Wirth, for example, has sought to bring his two passions together by arguing that market forces can be harnessed to protect the environment and work better than ‘command-and-control regulations.’

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