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Making Sense of American Liberalism$
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Jonathan Bell and Timothy Stanley

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036866

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036866.001.0001

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From Friends to Foes

From Friends to Foes

George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey, and the Fracture in American Liberalism

(p.90) 4 From Friends to Foes
Making Sense of American Liberalism

Bruce Miroff

University of Illinois Press

This chapter looks at how antagonism between different traditions of social reform can defeat their agenda. Far from being a coherent movement, postwar liberalism has been divided by class, generation, and philosophy. In the 1970s, the Democratic Party was torn apart by a conflict between New Dealers and their union allies on the one hand, and New Politics people and their identity politics allies on the other. Their tragic failure to reconcile their differences led to a landslide defeat at the hands of Richard Nixon in 1972. Drawing allusions to contemporary politics, the chapter shows how personal conflicts can reflect significant disagreements between reform traditions.

Keywords:   social reform, liberalism, Democratic Party, New Dealers, New Politics, Richard Nixon, contemporary politics

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