Delirium: How the Sexual Counterrevolution Is Polarizing America

Nancy L Cohen, Author
Nancy L. Cohen. Counterpoint (PGW, dist.), $27 (356p) ISBN 978-1-58243-801-6
Reviewed on: 12/12/2011
Release date: 02/01/2012
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The sexual counterrevolution represents a vocal, yet fractional, political undercurrent that has cleaved the U.S. government and warped politics, argues this zealous investigation. In her critique of bipartisan extremism, historian Cohen (The Reconstruction of American Liberalism, 1865–1914) expertly details its rise within the Democratic and Republican parties by mining seven presidential elections, from Richard Nixon’s to Barack Obama’s, and touching upon the 2012 primaries. As Cohen demonstrates, the counterrevolution has attacked women’s rights and sexual freedom, lobbying against gay school teachers, vilifying child care centers, and forming grassroots organizations devoted to overturning Roe v. Wade, among other concerns. These ideological stalwarts rally scores of fundamentalist voters and manipulate moderates into championing their issues based on faulty anecdotal evidence that Americans favor politicians with extreme views. Cohen convincingly reasons that the pervasive myth of a conservative America has actually buried hard statistics that reveal an increasingly progressive electorate. Overturning those narratives, she releases losing liberal candidates from the commonly held belief that supporting gay and women’s rights cost them their elections. Although biased and unsympathetic to her foes, Cohen uses quantitative evidence to claim, quite cogently, that the sexual counterrevolution has overplayed its hand and that “cultural progressivism is the new American way,” making this book an impressive contribution to the political dialogue. Agent: Jill Marr, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. (Feb.) 
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