Realignment and Party Revival: Understanding American Electoral Politics at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century

By Arthur Paulson | Go to book overview

8
Race and Class in the Post-New Deal Order

Observations of a decline in the New Deal electoral order have often included concurrent observations of a decline in its class-based partisan coalitions. Explanations for the decline of voting by social class have included structural change associated with postindustrial modernization, affluence, and the politics of racial polarization. However they differ, these explanations seem to agree on the increased salience of "cultural" issues or the "social issue." What was once an "end-of-ideology" resulting from the resolution of economic class conflict has become a new ideological polarization articulated on the social agenda, focusing on issues like race, the environment, and abortion. The previous chapters of the current work support the argument that racial issues have been decisively important to realignment in American politics since the 1960s.

Certainly social class was the organizing principle behind the electoral coalitions of the New Deal era. Just as certainly, cultural issues relating to modernization versus traditionalism in general, and race in particular, have been central to electoral conflict throughout American

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