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American Thought and Culture in the 21st Century$
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Martin Halliwell and Catherine Morley

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780748626014

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748626014.001.0001

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American Politics in the 1990s and 2000s

American Politics in the 1990s and 2000s

Chapter:
(p.21) 1. American Politics in the 1990s and 2000s
Source:
American Thought and Culture in the 21st Century
Author(s):

Dominic Sandbrook

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748626014.003.0002

In this chapter, Dominic Sandbrook traces the roots of the political debates of the 1990s and 2000s to the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan between 1981 and 1988. He argues that American politics during the Clinton and Bush years was governed by an underlying, undeclared consensus, in which liberals generally accepted free-market economic principles, while conservatives struck a quiet compromise with the new moral values of a changing society. He questions the myth of a culture war between left and right, showing how most Americans located themselves somewhere in the middle, and sees Bill Clinton as the modern politician par excellence, due to his carefully blurred ideological message and understated conservatism on fiscal issues. Finally, he argues that the American electorate was much less divided than is commonly thought, flickering inconsistently between moral traditionalism and libertarian individualism, and often falling between the two stools.

Keywords:   American Politics, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Culture Wars, Liberals, Conservatives

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