The New Liberalism: The Rising Power of Citizen Groups

By Jeffrey M. Berry | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
Not Dead

ONE OF THE truisms about American politics is that liberalism is dead. Labor is weak; the welfare state has collapsed; conservatives dominated Congress even before the Republicans formally took control in 1995; and Bill Clinton could win re-election in 1996 only by running on Republican issues. Liberals are seen as a sad lot, still trying to figure out what happened. They almost have a nostalgic quality about them, sort of like the bell bottoms stuck in the back of the closet.

But liberalism is not dead. Indeed, it's thriving.

Liberalism has, however, changed its stripes. Today American liberalism stresses culture, status, life-style, morality, and rights--postmaterialism. Traditional liberalism, concerned with issues of economic equality and promoted primarily by unions and groups sympathetic to the poor, is in retreat. Although groups on both the right and the left advocate postmaterialism, liberal groups have been most successful in getting government to respond to their priorities. Citizen lobbying groups are the moving force behind modern liberalism.


The Liberals' Agenda

This argument about contemporary liberalism is not based on revisionist history, a deconstruction of what the terms liberal and conservative actually mean, a novel interpretation of current social policy, or a new research methodology for studying American politics. Instead it rests on a

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The New Liberalism: The Rising Power of Citizen Groups
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • ABOUT BROOKINGS iv
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • Chapter One Not Dead 1
  • Chapter Two The Rise Of Citizen Groups 16
  • Chapter Three The Rise Of Postmaterialism 34
  • Chapter Four The Power Of Citizen Groups 61
  • Chapter Five Liberals Ascendant 87
  • Chapter Six Rich in Resources 119
  • Chapter Seven Liberalism Transformed 153
  • Appendix A- Methodology 171
  • Appendix B- List of Cases 184
  • Notes 190
  • Index 209
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