All in the Family: The Realignment of American Democracy Since the 1960s
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For all of these historians, conservatism developed for far more complex reasons than merely a backlash against the s. Years before Goldwater or Reagan rose to prominence, Thurmond ran for president in on a platform that criticized statism and warned of the dangers of creeping socialism.
All in the Family, by Robert O. Self
One of the most fascinating insights of this book is that Thurmond began his political career as a racial moderate at least according to the standards of mid—twentieth-century South Carolina and a pro-labor New Dealer. The latter stand was not surprising in the agriculturally devastated South Carolina of the s. Neither was his racial moderation, which was driven by his desire to keep the federal government from meddling in Southern race relations.
New Deal liberalism and Jim Crow were hardly incompatible as long as Southerners could limit federal intervention into racial issues.
Washington Monthly | Identity Politics Revisited
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In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Race, Gender, and the Rise of Conservatism. Joseph Crespino.
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Self has contributed an important new book to the literature on the rise of the American Right. Self argues that the Right won in large measure because it turned the myth of the nuclear family into a potent political weapon. Beginning with the New Deal and extending through the Great Society, liberals framed public policy to support "the white patriotic, heterosexual male at the head of the nuclear family" p.
Self labels efforts to bolster the economic foundations of this family as "breadwinner liberalism" p.
During the latter half of the s, feminists, lesbians, and gay men emerged and scored notable victories challenging this breadwinner and his cultural preeminence. But they provoked a backlash--"breadwinner conservatism"--that mobilized under the banner of family values and helped elect Ronald Reagan in p. The great achievement of the Right, according to Self, was to persuade the silent majority that the liberal Left, once the people's economic protector, now constituted a mortal threat to its deepest values--values embedded in the Active traditional family.
Self is careful not to posit a simple division between the adversaries and defenders of breadwinner liberalism. He is as interested in the divisions among the insurgents as he is in their war against the Right. Indeed, many of the book's chapters hardly mention the Right, offering instead capsule histories of various movements on the cultural Left and how they splintered.
The example of the gay rights movement illustrates Self's approach. Victimized during the so-called lavender scare of the early Cold War, driven from government service, and threatened by laws in forty-seven states that defined homosexual acts as felonies, gay men resided outside the boundaries of American citizenship.
- Robert O. Self.
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Beginning in , white middle-class gays yearning for respectability began demonstrating for equal rights, including the right to privacy and an end to legal harassment. No less important, they demanded the protection of the state from discrimination in the workforce, in education, and in the armed services.
In short, they sought integration into existing society. Lesbians initially allied with gay men but had their own concerns and soon seceded from yet another male-dominated movement.