550: Unit 2

History 550: Politics and Public Policy, Fall 2022

Part II: Political Ideas and Practices

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4


12. Political ideologies in American History, from the first party system to the New Deal

READ: 550 Readings packet, 179-184 AND Alterman & Mattson, The Cause, pp. 2-12 at the back of the 550 Readings packet (now I'm using the page numbers of the original book).

The reading traces the development of American political ideologies through three phases: Hamilton v. Jefferson; Whigs v. Democrats; and Liberals v. Conservatives (there’ll be more on the conservatives later).  A lot of this should be review from your US history class, which most folks take in 11th grade.  Feel free to bring in information you may recall from taking US history in the 11th grade.

13. The rise of conservatism

READ Story & Laurie, Rise of Conservatism, 1-20, and documents 5, 7, 9, 11

What are the key differences between liberals and conservatives?   

14. The Politics of Backlash

READ Alterman & Mattson, excerpts, 238-284; and Story & Laurie, documents 15, 20, 24, 37.

QF: Racism, pure and simple, explains the defection of white working class voters from the Democratic Party.

15. The triumph of conservatism. 

READ Story & Laurie, 20-31 & document #30; Alterman & Mattson, excerpts, 360-427; and the loose HANDOUT: Peter Smith, "Moderate Republicans No Longer Have a Home."

VIEW: This Bush campaign ad that was mentioned on p. 21 of Story and Laurie.  And these two videos from "The West Wing" TV series. Bruno; and "Liberal".

QF: Democrats pushed the white working class away; Republicans lured them in; Racism was a factor. The DLC saved the Democratic Party.

16. Exeter Select Board visit

We will take a break from the current unit to visit and discuss the Exeter Select Board

17. Populism

READ: 550 Readings packet, book 2:  Mounk, "The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy" (in the appendix); Thomas Frank, The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism (available in the bookstore), Introduction.  Read 36-41 to see how Frank defends populism against charges of that populism is backward-looking, hostile to free trade, antagonistic to government agencies, and anti-democratic.  On 41-47 he addresses charges of racism, nativism, and anti-pluralism; on 47-52 he addresses the populists attitude toward meritocracy and expertise.  You can skim this quickly  but pay attention to his comments about "elite failure" on p. 52.

QF: The greatest threat to democracy is too much popular interest in politics.

18. Populism.

READ: Frank, 88-98, 104-107, & 196-214; and in 550 Readings Book 2: Gabler, "Arrogance Divide," p. 2.

QF: Populism is mostly about scapegoating "enemies of the people." Peak populism was the New Deal.

19. Populism.

READ: Frank, 228 to end of the conclusion (not the afterword); & 550 Readings Book 2: Wolfe, Future of Liberalism, 5; also, VIEW: The Rant that Started the Tea Party Movement, AND this video, with Anne Case and Angus Deaton on "deaths of despair."

QF: The rise of populism is a symptom of the failure of the modern liberal state. 

20. Polarization

READ: 550 Readings Book 2: all of the Polarization section, 6-27.

QF: It's hopeless.

21. Depolarization

READ: 550 Readings Book 2: all of the Depolarization section, 27-53. 

QF: There's a tiny ray of hope.

22. Paper due. Class doesn't meet.  Drop a hard copy in the box at the door. 

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4