Progressivism in America: Past, Present and Future

Progressivism in America: Past, Present and Future

Progressivism in America: Past, Present and Future

Progressivism in America: Past, Present and Future


For several decades conservatives set the political agenda in the United States, allowing them to focus the conversation on topics such as tax cuts, national security, and social issues. It is increasingly becoming apparent, however, that this has begun to change. Factors such as the election of the first African-American President and the increasing diversity of the population, the dramatic rise of income inequality, and the social liberalism of younger Americans indicate that progressive political ideas are more influential today than at any point in four decades. This book is the first to offer a comprehensive overview of progressive politics, combining historical analysis, a discussion of policy priorities today, and a survey of the challenges ahead. Featuring essays by leading scholars, analysts, and commentators, it is an indispensable guide to the ideas and debates that will shape American politics in the coming years.

With contributions from Joseph Stiglitz, E.J. Dionne, Jonathan Alter, Jacob Hacker, and Rosa Brooks


The historic election of Barack Obama in 2008, at the height of the world economic crisis that plunged the United States into what we now call the Great Recession, and the clear socioeconomic parallels with the election of Franklin Roosevelt at the peak of the Great Depression in 1932, have raised a number of fundamental questions about America’s past, present, and future. This is especially true among progressives, many of whom see the parallels between the events of the 1920s and 1930s and the collapse of the global economic system in 2008 as confirmation that the United States is in dire need of serious structural reform. Is it time for the United States to turn away from the free market/antigovernment sentiment that has held the upper hand in political debates since the early 1980s? Was the election that swept President Obama and the Democrats into power in 2008 the harbinger of a shift toward a more expansive view of government among the American public? Or, as the rise of the Tea Party and the midterm elections of 2010 and 2014 seem to indicate, were the events of 2008 simply an aberration—a short-term reaction to the economic collapse that occurred in the final months of the Bush administration? What policies should be put in place to help us return to an era of prosperity? And how should we meet the many other challenges we face—such as climate change—both at home and abroad?

In an effort to answer these questions, the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute joined forces with the Clinton Institute for American Studies at University College Dublin to host a major international conference that would bring together a distinguished group of historians, economists, political scientists, policy makers, and journalists. Moreover, given the parallels between the socioeconomic factors that gave rise to the onset of the Great Depression and Great Recession—including that vast disparity in wealth evident in both crises—the organizers of the conference were especially interested in exploring how best to fashion a progressive response to the current crisis.

The conference, which shares the same title as this book, took place over a fascinating two days at the Clinton Institute in November 2013. Public intellectuals . . .

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