550: Paper #2

Liberals vs. Conservatives

Look at the titles of the classes in this unit: "Liberalism in Crisis"; "The Triumph of Conservatism." Things were going along pretty well for the Liberal Democrats. They controlled the House and the Senate. They had the New Deal coalition. They did well in state-level elections. Then it all fell apart. Republicans now control the Senate, the presidency, a majority of state legislatures and the US Supreme court (with, soon, a 6-3 majority). Democrats hold a bare majority of Governor's seats, and only recently took over the House. So what happened?

REVISE: WRITE A HISTORY PAPER THAT IDENTIFIES A KEY FACTOR IN THE DECLINE OF THE LIBERAL NEW DEAL COALITION. USE PRIMARY DOCUMENT QUOTES, PARAPHRASE FROM SECONDARY.

Every good paper starts with a good critical question. A good critical question cannot be answered with just a yes or no, or a fact or series of facts. It does not just elicit an opinion or hinge on a subjective moral judgement (thus, you should not write a paper explaining why you are a liberal or a conservative). A critical question examines ambiguity, leads to more questions, provokes discussion, requires careful and skeptical reading of texts, requires interpretation of relevant facts, could be argued against because facts can be interpreted differently. It's up to you to come up with a question that will lead to a great paper. We've been exploring this in class for a couple of weeks and kicking around questions on this topic in our discussions. This was on the syllabus:

How did the Democrats lose the white working class? Or did the conservatives win it over?

You may want to read about the importance of asking your own questions (not relying on your teachers to do it for you).

When I read your papers, I'm going to want to see that you understand this unit, that you have developed a reasonable understanding of why liberalism has declined, and conservatism has risen (at least until recently--the Democrats seem poised for a massive win in November). There is not one right explanation. Even experts disagree. You just need to develop a coherent and convincing explanation that is grounded in facts and logical interpretations of those facts. I like reading papers that I disagree with.

Please: Number your pages. Include a word count in the heading. Concision is a virtue. Aim for 800 to 1000 words. See my amazing Paper-Writing Guide.