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All in the Family

The Realignment of American Democracy Since the 1960s

Robert O. Self

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Description

In the 1960s, Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and War on Poverty promised an array of federal programs to assist working-class families. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan declared the GOP the party of "family values" and promised to keep government out of Americans' lives. Again and again, historians have sought to explain the nation's profound political realignment from the 1960s to the 2000s, five decades that witnessed the fracturing of liberalism and the rise of the conservative right. The award-winning historian Robert O. Self is the first to argue that the separate threads of that realignment--from civil rights to women's rights, from the antiwar movement to Nixon's "silent majority," from the abortion wars to gay marriage, from the welfare state to neoliberal economic policies--all ran through the politicized American family.

Based on an astonishing range of sources, All in the Family rethinks an entire era. Self opens his narrative with the Great Society and its assumption of a white, patriotic, heterosexual man at the head of each family. Soon enough, civil rights activists, feminists, and gay rights activists, animated by broader visions of citizenship, began to fight for equal rights, protections, and opportunities. Led by Pauli Murray, Gloria Steinem, Harvey Milk, and Shirley Chisholm, among many others, they achieved lasting successes, including Roe v. Wade, antidiscrimination protections in the workplace, and a more inclusive idea of the American family.

Yet the establishment of new rights and the visibility of alternative families provoked, beginning in the 1970s, a furious conservative backlash. Politicians and activists on the right, most notably George Wallace, Phyllis Schlafly, Anita Bryant, and Jerry Falwell, built a political movement based on the perceived moral threat to the traditional family. Self writes that "family values" conservatives in fact "paved the way" for fiscal conservatives, who shared a belief in liberalism's invasiveness but lacked a populist message. Reagan's presidency united the two constituencies, which remain, even in these tumultuous times, the base of the Republican Party. All in the Family, an erudite, passionate, and persuasive explanation of our current political situation and how we arrived in it, will allow us to think anew about the last fifty years of American politics.

Publishers Weekly Review

Jul 02, 2012 – In this extensively researched volume, Self, Brown associate professor of history (American Babylon), attempts to make sense of the shift in American politics and social movements from 1964 through 2004, from the “center-left social welfare polity” of the mid-20th century to the “center-right free market system” of the 21st century. There’s a heavy focus on gender and sexuality, covering everything from the women’s movement to abortion and antifeminism. He gives a great deal of attention to the in-your-face roles played by the various gay and lesbian factions as they came out of the closet and moved into politics and social change. At the core of each avenue of discussion is the exploration of how four decades of radical change affected the very concept of liberalism while allowing conservatives to gain strength. Any one of the topics Self covers would be enough to fill volumes on its own, and he may have overreached in trying to tie it all together. The material is as fascinating as the presentation is dry, and this compendium may overwhelm the casual reader. 8 pages of b&w illus.
All in the Family
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Politics & Current Events
  • Published: Sep 18, 2012
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
  • Print Length: 250 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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