Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Post-War America

Doug McAdam and Karina Kloos. Oxford Univ, $29.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-19-993785-1
Stanford sociologist McAdam and social movements scholar and activist Kloos offer a timely, if at times tendentious, account of how partisan polarization and economic inequality have taken over America since 1960. The authors argue that the bipartisanship of postwar America was anomalous and made possible by the relative lack of social protest in the 1940s and ’50s. The civil rights movement and the segregationist movement subsequently helped push apart the Democrats and the Republicans. The book’s most significant contribution is its account of how the “Reagan Revolution,” which further sharpened America’s partisan divide, was implemented over the two decades after Reagan left office. Today, state legislation that bars ex-felons from voting, gerrymandering, the corrupting influence of money in elections, and the Electoral College suppress minority viewpoints, foster extreme partisanship, and ultimately threaten democracy. Some of the authors’ conclusions are anodyne—elected officials must find “common ground” and “reclaim... the political middle”—and, overall, the book is likely only to please those who already agree with the authors. Still, McAdam and Kloos provide useful historical context for today’s Capitol Hill. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/02/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-19-046517-9
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