HIST204 - AMERICAN CONSERVATISM FROM TAFT TO TRUMP

Description: 
The early 1950s may have been the nadir for modern American conservatism. Conservative hero Robert Taft had lost the Republican nomination for President to a more moderate candidate for the third time, many in the Republican Party had moved to accept some of the most popular New Deal programs, and a moderate, internationalist consensus had taken hold in the country. Yet, from these ashes, conservatism rose to become a potent political force in the United States over the last half century. This seminar explores the contours of that rise, beginning with infrastructure laid and coalitions forged in the 1950s. We will see how conservatives built upon this infrastructure to overcome Barry Goldwater’s crushing 1964 defeat to elect one of their own, Ronald Reagan, president in 1980. Reagan’s presidency transformed the public philosophy and helped shape subsequent American political development. Our study of conservatism will also include the struggles that conservatives confronted in trying to enact their ideas into public policy, and the repercussions of those struggles. We will explore conservatism’s triumphs and failures politically, as well as the cultural changes that have helped, hindered, and shaped its rise. In many ways, this class is a study in the transformation of American politics and in American culture over the last sixty-five years. Its focus is on the hows and the whys of the rise of conservatism from the low point of the early 50s to the rise of the Tea Party and Trumpism in the 2000s and 2010s. In many places, we will discover a surprisingly complex story. This complexity means that we must grapple with clashing interpretations as to why and how conservatism developed, and why conservatism appealed to many Americans at various points in time.
Instructors: 
ROSENWALD, BRIAN
Day and Time: 
W 0200PM-0500PM
Room: 

COLLEGE HALL 217

Activity: 
SEM
Cross Listings: 
    Syllabus: 
    Registration Notes: 
    MAJORS ONLY