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Showing posts from April 15, 2018

Essays in American History: Reagan to the Present

An Introductory Note
Being sophisticated consumers of historical prose, readers have no doubt kept their skepticism front and center while perusing the author's historical essay-summaries. They surely do not need to be told what the author nevertheless feels the need to tell them, which is that as we approach the present, all commentary becomes arguably even more liable to slanting than usual. In this final essay, which covers a period through which the forty-seven-year-old author has lived, just about all bets are off -- and not just for the present author of course. History may always be contentious, but this particular present, though perhaps no more so than any other present (media saturation aside), is a cultural war zone, and for important reasons the author will try to illuminate. 
We Are All Neoliberals Now
Neoliberalism Trickles Down
In 1980, Ronald Reagan did what Barry Goldwater could not do: he brought the New Right to power, aided by a resurgent evangelical movement and a…

Essays in American History: From the end of World War II to the Election of Reagan

The Golden Age of Capitalism and its Downfall
The Postwar Consensus
After World War II, even mainstream Republicans like Eisenhower considered most New Deal programs, and the new set of mutual expectations between government and governed it had ushered in, to be a permanent part of the American scene. As Eisenhower famously said, "Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history." Eisenhower even added to the New Deal by expanding Social Security to agricultural workers; launching the largest public works project in American history, the interstate highway system, along with others like the Saint Lawrence Seaway; and, post-Sputnik, for the first time, instituting federal support for higher education. Military Keynesianism was riding high as well, as all presidents and congresses during this period built up to one degree or another th…