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Longtime activist, author, and antifeminist leader Phyllis Schlafly is for many the symbol of the conservative movement in America. In this provocative new book, historian Donald T. Critchlow sheds new light on Schlafly's life and on the unappreciated role her grassroots activism played in transforming America's political landscape.
Based on exclusive and unrestricted access to Schlafly's papers as well as sixty other archival collections, the book reveals for the first time the inside story of this Missouri-born mother of six who became one of the most controversial forces in modern political history. It takes us from Schlafly's political beginnings in the Republican Right after the World War II through her years as an anticommunist crusader to her more recent efforts to thwart same-sex marriage and stem the flow of illegal immigrants.
Schlafly's political career took off after her book A Choice Not an Echo helped secure Barry Goldwater's nomination. With sales of more than 3 million copies, the book established her as a national voice within the conservative movement. But it was Schlafly's bid to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment that gained her a grassroots following. Her anti-ERA crusade attracted hundreds of thousands of women into the conservative fold and earned her a name as feminism's most ardent opponent. In the 1970s, Schlafly founded the Eagle Forum, a Washington-based conservative policy organization that today claims a membership of 50,000 women.
Filled with fresh insights into these and other initiatives, Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism provides a telling profile of one of the most influential activists in recent history. Sure to invite spirited debate, it casts new light on a major shift in American politics, the emergence of the Republican Right.
American Political History: A Very Short Introduction explores the emergence of a democratic political culture within a republican form of government, showing the mobilization and extension of the mass electorate over the lifespan of the country. In a nation characterized by great racial, ethnic, and religious diversity, American democracy has proven extraordinarily durable. Individual parties have risen and fallen, but the dominance of the two-party system persists. Fierce debates over the meaning of the U.S. Constitution have created profound divisions within the parties and among voters, but a belief in the importance of constitutional order persists among political leaders and voters. Americans have been deeply divided about the extent of federal power, slavery, the meaning of citizenship, immigration policy, civil rights, and a range of economic, financial, and social policies. New immigrants, racial minorities, and women have joined the electorate and the debates. But American political history, with its deep social divisions, bellicose rhetoric, and antagonistic partisanship provides valuable lessons about the meaning and viability of democracy in the early 21st century.
ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Contrary to warnings about the dangers of populism, Donald F. Critchlow argues that grassroots activism is essential to party renewal within a democratic system.
Grassroots activism, presenting a cacophony of voices calling for reform of various sorts without programmatic coherence, is often derided as populist and distrusted by both political parties and voters. But according to Donald T. Critchlow, grassroots movements are actually responsible for political party transformation, both Democratic and Republic, into instruments of reform that reflect the interests, concerns, and anxieties of the electorate.
Contrary to popular discourse warning about the dangers of populism, Critchlow argues that grassroots activism is essential to party renewal within a democratic system. In Defense of Populism examines movements that influenced Republican, Democratic, and third-party politics—from the Progressives and their influence on Teddy Roosevelt, to New Dealers and FDR, to the civil rights, feminist, and environmental movements and their impact on the Democratic Party, to the Reagan Revolution and the Tea Party. In each case, Critchlow narrates representative biographies of activists, party leaders, and presidents to show how movements become viable calls for reform that get translated into policy positions.
Social tensions and political polarization continue to be prevalent today. Increased social disorder and populist outcry are expected whenever political elites and distant bureaucratic government are challenged. In Defense of Populism shows how, as a result of grassroots activism and political-party reform, policy advances are made, a sense of national confidence is restored, and the belief that American democracy works in the midst of crisis is affirmed.
"Politics makes for strange bedfellows," the old saying goes. Americans, however, often forget the obvious lesson underlying this adage: politics is about winning elections and governing once in office. Voters of all stripes seem put off by the rough-and-tumble horse-trading and deal-making of politics, viewing its practitioners as self-serving and without principle or conviction.
Because of these perspectives, the scholarly and popular narrative of American politics has come to focus on ideology over all else. But as Donald T. Critchlow demonstrates in his riveting new book, this obsession obscures the important role of temperament, character, and leadership ability in political success. Critchlow looks at four leading Republican presidential contenders—Richard Nixon, Nelson Rockefeller, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan—to show that, behind the scenes, ideology mattered less than principled pragmatism and the ability to build coalitions toward electoral and legislative victory.
Drawing on new archival material, Critchlow lifts the curtain on the lives of these political rivals and what went on behind the scenes of their campaigns. He reveals unusual relationships between these men: Nixon making deals with Rockefeller, while Rockefeller courted Goldwater and Reagan, who themselves became political rivals despite their shared conservatism. The result is a book sure to fascinate anyone wondering what it takes to win the presidency of the United States—and to govern effectively.
That’s the question many Americans are asking as they witness the efforts of the most left-wing president in American history. At last, historians Donald T. Critchlow and W. J. Rorabaugh supply the answer.
As the authors show, it is a mistake to see the Obama administration’s agenda as a single man’s vision. Equally flawed, they reveal, is the now-common argument that today’s liberalism is simply a continuation of early-twentieth-century progressivism. Today’s Left has embraced a more radical vision for transformative change: to remake all aspects of American life.
Takeover delineates the sharp break in the history of modern liberalism that began in the 1960s. Critchlow and Rorabaugh show how leftists in pursuit of “social justice” went from protest rallies to the halls of power by rewriting the Democratic Party’s presidential nominating rules for their own benefit and using the courts to advance their radical agenda. The authors masterfully connect the dots in America’s recent history, showing the close links among such seemingly unrelated causes as radical environmentalism, nationalized health care, class warfare, abortion rights, feminism, regulating the free market, assisted suicide, sex education, and energy policies to reduce consumption.
Takeover is a bold revisionist history that completely reshapes our understanding of the current political crisis.
Contrary to those who argue that demographics are political destiny, social trends are transforming identity categories of race, gender, and youth - all of which provide rich opportunities for Republicans to create a new majority. To accomplish this, Republicans will need imagination and political acumen if they are to win over those constituencies that have become the base of the Democratic Party: minorities, young women, and millennials. Behind the reality of current voting patterns, which without doubt presents a gloomy future for the Republican Party, social trends and a deeper analysis of political attitudes reveal there is much room for Republican optimism.
In this critical, data-driven book, Future Right, Donald Critchlow explores strategies for the right that will help them succeed where Democrats are floundering: how to speak to the new population of a rising and successful minority class and how to reform the salacious alliance between the government and the one percent.
It is time for Republicans to adapt to societal trends for the creation of a new, transformative politics that will not only help them win the future elections, but revive a system long overrun by outmoded, top-heavy politics.