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Obama and America's Political Future

Obama and America's Political Future

Theda Skocpol
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 216
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2jbrdg
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    Obama and America's Political Future
    Book Description:

    Obama’s 2008 victory, coming amid the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s, opened the door to major reforms. But he quickly faced skepticism from supporters and fierce opposition from Republicans. What happened? Skocpol surveys the political landscape to help us to understand Obama’s triumphs and setbacks and see where we might be headed next.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06794-3
    Subjects: Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. FOREWORD (pp. vii-xiv)
    Daniel Carpenter

    In politics, historic and unexpected upheavals can deliver lessons rich in their variety and texture. The broad electoral victories of President Barack Obama and Democratic congressional candidates in 2008, followed by similarly expansive triumphs for Republican legislative candidates in 2010, were predictable in the narrow sense—the first occurring in the midst of a massive economic downturn and an unpopular incumbent president, the second occurring in a midterm election in which the new incumbent had himself become unpopular. Yet judging from the vantage of policy change and from the longer term, the results do not arrive at so easy an...

  4. 1 OBAMA’S NEW DEAL, TEA PARTY REACTION, AND AMERICA’S POLITICAL FUTURE (pp. 1-90)
    Theda Skocpol

    Just weeks after the 2008 election, the cover of the November 24, 2008, issue ofTimemagazine featured a broadly grinning Barack Obama wearing a fedora and riding FDR-style in an open convertible car, a cigarette in a long silver holder jutting from his lips. Entitled “TheNewNew Deal—What Barack Obama Can Learn from F.D.R.—and What Democrats Need to Do,” the magazine’s feature stories explained how newly elected President Obama might propel a shift in U.S. governance and politics comparable to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first New Deal in the 1930s. The stars were aligned, theTimeauthors...

  5. 2 A NEW DEAL FANTASY MEETS OLD POLITICAL REALITIES (pp. 91-110)
    Larry M. Bartels

    Professor skocpol’s essay provides both an insightful account of the first two years of the Obama presidency and a wide-ranging rumination on the current state and future prospects of American democracy. It is a very impressive example of authoritative, timely, and politically relevant political science—and a very worthy companion to her edited volume with Lawrence Jacobs,Reaching for a New Deal,which addresses some of the same themes at greater length.² My remarks will underscore and elaborate aspects of Skocpol’s analysis rather than challenging it in any fundamental way.

    I do differ with Skocpol’s framing of her analysis, which...

  6. 3 OBAMA’S PROBLEM: MISREADING THE MANDATE (pp. 111-122)
    Mickey Edwards

    Professor skocpol has done her usual superb job in evaluating the successes and failures of the Obama administration to this point and in looking critically at the current state of American politics. It is my goal merely to suggest some additional thoughts that may help expand the conversation.

    To consider why things might have gone wrong during the first years of the Obama presidency—Professor Skocpol’s assumption is that thingsdidgo wrong—it might help to take a brief look at what happened to another presidency that began nearly thirty years earlier and found itself after two years in...

  7. 4 OBAMA AND THE CHALLENGE OF SUBMERGED POLICIES (pp. 123-144)
    Suzanne Mettler

    When barack obama won the presidency in 2008, his election also ushered in large Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, among them Dan Maffei, who would represent the 25th congressional district of New York. The 25th, like many other upstate New York districts, has sent Republicans to Congress for the vast majority of years since before the Civil War—from not long after Alexis de Tocqueville, honored by this book, visited the area on his American sojourn. Over the past several decades, these New York representatives were some of the few remaining Republican moderates in Congress, while the voters...

  8. 5 MAKING SENSE OF AMERICA’S POLITICAL MAELSTROM (pp. 145-168)
    Theda Skocpol

    Probing the cross-currents of U.S. politics at this juncture of economic crisis, rising social tensions, and extreme partisan polarization is quite a challenge. As the 2011 Alexis de Tocqueville lecturer, I have been fortunate to be joined in this endeavor by three skilled and thoughtful fellow analysts, each with his or her own take on what has happened through the electoral swings of 2008 and 2010, and each with a unique sense of what may come next as the United States careens into another pivotal moment of clashing visions and voter verdicts in 2012.

    Political scientist Larry Bartels draws on...

  9. NOTES (pp. 169-186)
  10. ABOUT THE AUTHORS (pp. 187-188)
  11. INDEX (pp. 189-195)