Loss of Confidence: Politics and Policy in the 1970s

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As the oil shortages, inflation, and unemployment of the 1970s disrupted American lives and the Watergate scandal rocked the presidency, faith in the future of the nation and its leaders was severely damaged. This volume, which is the product of a unique collaboration of distinguished scholars from history and political science, offers a probing analysis of the causes, processes, and consequences of this erosion of faith in public solutions to our country's problems.

At the beginning of the decade, a confident American public and its leaders still embraced the government activism that was the legacy of the New Deal. But grave doubts about the efficacy of public policy—fueled by Watergate, Vietnam, stagflation, energy crises, and intensely controversial social policies—undermined this public trust as the decade wore on, until by the end tax revolts were breaking out across the country. Describing government as the problem, not the solution, Ronald Reagan broke with tradition to set a political and policy agenda that has been dominant ever since.

These experts from two disciplines bring their special insights to bear in dissecting the key developments of this decade that have transformed American politics in the last quarter of the century. The contributors are Ballard C. Campbell, Joseph Hinchliffe, J. David Hoeveler, Sidney M. Milkis, Alice O’Connor, Paul J. Quirk. David Brian Robertson, and John T. Woolley.

Like the other titles in Issues in Policy History, this book reprints a special issue of The Journal of Policy History.

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Editorial Reviews

First published as a special issue of Journal of Policy History; v. 10, no. 1, 1998. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271018454
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1998
  • Series: Issues in Policy History , #8
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 184
  • Lexile: 1530L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

David Brian Robertson is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, and Associate Editor of The Journal of Policy History.

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Table of Contents

Editor's Note
Introduction: Loss of Confidence and Policy Change in the 1970s 1
The Rising Hegemony of Mass Opinion 19
Remaking Government Institutions in the 1970s: Participatory Democracy and the Triumph of Administrative Politics 51
Populism, Politics, and Public Policy: 1970s Conservatism 75
The False Dawn of Poor Law Reform: Nixon, Carter, and the Quest for a Guaranteed Income 99
Exorcising Inflation-Mindedness: The Transformation of Economic Management in the 1970s 130
Tax Revolts and Political Change 153
Contributors 179
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