Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights and Taxes on American Politics

Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights and Taxes on American Politics

by Mary D. Edsall, Thomas Byrne Edsall
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Three volatile issues—race, rights, and taxes—drive American politics today.
They have come to intersect with an entire range of domestic issues, from welfare policy to suburban zoning practices. In an explosive chain reaction, a new conservative voting majority has replaced the once-dominant Democratic presidential coalition, and a new polarization

…  See more details below

Overview

Three volatile issues—race, rights, and taxes—drive American politics today.
They have come to intersect with an entire range of domestic issues, from welfare policy to suburban zoning practices. In an explosive chain reaction, a new conservative voting majority has replaced the once-dominant Democratic presidential coalition, and a new polarization has pitted major segments of society against one another. How did this massive power shift occur? Thomas Byrne Edsall of The Washington Post and Mary D. Edsall provide answers in this compelling analysis, cited by Newsweek as "one of the book[s] that shape[d] the debate" in the 1992 presidential campaign.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a blunt, on-target analysis of the disintegration of the liberal coalition, Washington Post reporter Edsall, writing with his wife, charges that the Republican Party since 1964 has capitalized on issues of race and taxing, pitting proponents of meritocracy against advocates of special preference. These issues, the authors point out, now intersect in the minds of the electorate with a range of domestic controversies, from drug enforcement to suburban zoning practices. The Edsalls urge Democrats to learn from voter rejection and to engage in constructive, open discussion of such problems as soaring urban-ghetto crime and illegitimacy. In order to tackle the crises of poverty, race and educational reform, they insist, both parties require a ``wrenching alteration of habit, strategy, and worldview.'' However, the book's scorecard of the last seven presidential elections is geared more to policymakers, scholars and activists than to general readers. (Oct.)
Library Journal
For readers who wonder why Democratic coalitions have failed to retain control of the White House in recent elections, the Edsalls show how race, the civil rights decisions of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and the taxpayers' revolt have made Democratic presidents an endangered or possibly extinct species. They blame the Democrats' problems on their inability to see the impact of the agenda of the 1960s and 1970s on the middle-class and lower-class white vote. In addition, the authors place heavy emphasis on the increased prominence of fundamentalist Christianity in areas like the South, which had been crucial to the Democratic coalition. An excellent foil to Sen. Paul Simon's Once and Future Democrats ( LJ 5/15/82), which argued that to win elections, Democrats should not give up their issues or political soul. Recommended for general readers and informed laypersons. See also Peter Brown's Minority Party ( LJ 8/91)--Ed.-- Frank Kessler, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph
Kirkus Reviews
An incisive analysis from Washington Post journalist Edsall (The New Politics of Inequality, 1984) of the political equivalent of a continental drift: the electoral realignment in which Republicans have won the White House five out of the last six times since 1964. Edsall's explanation for this shift is not unique: The GOP, he says, has used two overlapping issues, race and taxes, to splinter the old New Deal coalition, pitting whites—resentful of busing, affirmative action, and other federal remedies to aid blacks and other minorities—against these programs' beneficiaries. Edsall traces how Barry Goldwater, George Wallace, and Richard Nixon, with varying degrees of success, exploited these issues as well as the cultural tensions arising from the 60's rights revolution on behalf of other groups (e.g., criminal defendants, gays, the handicapped). The now-familiar scenario found "Reagan Democrats" (southern white populists and northern blue-collar ethnics) linking with affluent Republicans in shifting government benefits away from recipients of liberal largesse. Although giving only glancing attention to the influence of war-and-peace issues on the electorate, Edsall impressively supports his analysis of the Democratic decline at the presidential level with extensive polling and demographic data, interviews with lapsed Democrats, and a devastating portrait of liberalism at bay, "intellectually fearful" of addressing the ills of the black underclass and thus continuing to alienate disaffected voters and leaving the party a toothless defender of the working class and poor. A powerful companion to Nicholas Lemann's The Promised Land (p. 32) and Kevin Phillips's ThePolitics of Rich and Poor (1990) in detailing the racial and class tensions that are rending America's social fabric and poisoning its body politic.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393309034
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
08/28/1992
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
356
Sales rank:
1,183,690
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile:
1750L (what's this?)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >