American Politics in the 1990s and 2000s

Dominic Sandbrook

in American Thought and Culture in the 21st Century

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780748626014
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670673 | DOI:
American Politics in the 1990s and 2000s

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In this chapter, Dominic Sandbrook traces the roots of the political debates of the 1990s and 2000s to the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan between 1981 and 1988. He argues that American politics during the Clinton and Bush years was governed by an underlying, undeclared consensus, in which liberals generally accepted free-market economic principles, while conservatives struck a quiet compromise with the new moral values of a changing society. He questions the myth of a culture war between left and right, showing how most Americans located themselves somewhere in the middle, and sees Bill Clinton as the modern politician par excellence, due to his carefully blurred ideological message and understated conservatism on fiscal issues. Finally, he argues that the American electorate was much less divided than is commonly thought, flickering inconsistently between moral traditionalism and libertarian individualism, and often falling between the two stools.

Keywords: American Politics; Ronald Reagan; Bill Clinton; George W. Bush; Culture Wars; Liberals; Conservatives

Chapter.  6423 words. 

Subjects: Cultural Studies

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