Liberalism in the United States

Liberalism in the United States is a broad political philosophy centered on what many see as the unalienable rights of the individual. The fundamental liberal ideals of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion for all belief systems and the separation of church and state, right to due process and equality under the law are widely accepted as a common foundation across the spectrum of liberal thought.

Modern liberalism in the United States includes issues such as same-sex marriage, reproductive and other women's rights, voting rights for all adult citizens, civil rights, environmental justice and government protection of freedom from want.[1] National social services such as equal education opportunities, access to health care and transportation infrastructure are intended to meet the responsibility to promote the general welfare of all citizens as established by the Constitution. Some American liberals, who call themselves classical liberals, fiscal conservatives, or libertarians, support fundamental liberal ideals, but diverge from modern liberal thought, holding that economic freedom is more important than equality and that providing for the general welfare exceeds the legitimate role of government.[2]

Since the 1930s, the term liberalism (without a qualifier) usually refers in the United States to modern liberalism, a political philosophy exemplified by Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and later Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. It is a form of social liberalism, whose accomplishments include the Works Progress Administration and the Social Security Act in 1935, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

According to Louis Hartz, liberalism in the United States differs from liberalism elsewhere in the world because the United States never had a resident hereditary aristocracy[3] and as such avoided much of the class warfare that swept Europe.[4]


Liberalism in the United States Collage
Prominent liberals in the United States include, from left to right and top to bottom: Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Paul Krugman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor

The origins of American liberalism lie in the political ideals of the Age of Enlightenment.[5] The Constitution of the United States of 1787 set up the first modern republic, with sovereignty in the people (not in a monarch) and no hereditary ruling aristocracy. However, the Constitution limited liberty, in particular by accepting slavery. The Founding Fathers recognized the contradiction, but needed a nation strong enough to survive in the world.[6]

From the time of the American Revolution to the present day, the United States has extended liberty to ever broader classes of people. The states abolished many restrictions on voting for white males in the early 19th century. The Constitution was amended in 1865 to abolish slavery, in 1870 to extend the vote to Black men, in 1920 to extend the vote to women and in 1971 to lower the voting age to 18. The civil rights movement and new federal laws in 1964 and 1965 overthrew the Jim Crow system of the South that had relegated blacks to second-class citizenship since the 1890s.[7]

Thomas Jefferson believed that the United States should remain a nation of small farmers.[8] As the United States economy began shifting to manufacturing and services, liberals started to view corruption and monopolies (called trusts at the time) as threats to liberty.[9][10] During the Progressive Era of the early 20th century, laws were passed restricting monopolies and regulating railroad rates.[11][12] According to James Reichley, it was during this era that the term liberal took on its current meaning.[13] Prior to the early 1900s, the term had usually described classical liberalism, which emphasizes limited government and the free market.[13] During the 1920s, the term progressive became associated with politicians such as Robert M. La Follette, who called for government ownership of railroads and utilities in his 1924 third-party presidential bid;[13] and Theodore Roosevelt, who came out of retirement to run again for president under a third party called Progressive Party. Political figures such as Franklin D. Roosevelt later adopted the term liberal to describe an individual in favor of some government activism, but opposed to more radical reforms.[13]

After 1933, modern liberals used the New Deal to provide jobs during the Great Depression. The Social Security Act of 1935 provided retirement and disability income for Americans unable to work or unable to find jobs.[14] In the Social Security Act of 1965, this was extended to provide benefits for Americans unable to work due to illness.

A reaction against modern American liberalism began with Barry Goldwater in the 1960s. Deregulation began in the mid-1970s. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan successfully lowered marginal tax rates, most notably for those at the top of the income distribution while his Social Security reforms raised taxes on the middle and bottom of the income distribution, leaving their total tax burden unchanged.[15][16] Democratic President Bill Clinton (1993–2001) worked with conservatives and against strong liberal opposition to end some of the main welfare programs and to implement NAFTA, linking the economies of the United States, Canada and Mexico. Clinton pushed to extend liberal ideals in the areas of health care (where he failed) and environmental protection (where he had more success). On the whole, he came under fierce attack from the left and from many liberals who charged that he betrayed the New Deal traditions of activist government, especially regarding welfare and his collaboration with business.[17]


Early liberalism

The United States was the first country to be founded on the liberal ideas of John Locke and other philosophers of the Enlightenment, with no monarchy, no hereditary aristocracy and no established religion. The United States Bill of Rights guarantees every citizen the freedoms advocated by the liberal philosophers, namely equality under the law, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to gather in peaceful assembly, the right to petition the government for redress of grievances and the right to bear arms, among other freedoms and rights. In this sense, virtually all Americans are liberals. However, both before and after the country was founded legal questions concerning the scope of these rights and freedoms arose. In the Dred Scott decision of 1856–1857, the Supreme Court ruled that these rights only applied to white men and that blacks had no rights whatsoever that any white man was obliged to respect. Several constitutional amendments after the Dred Scott decision extended the guarantees of the Bill of Rights to larger classes of citizens, to all citizens in 1868, then specifically to blacks in 1870, to women in 1919 and to people unable to afford a poll tax in 1964.

Classical liberalism

Classical liberalism in the United States (also called laissez-faire liberalism)[18] is the belief that a free-market economy is the most productive. It may be represented by Henry David Thoreau's statement "that government is best which governs least". Classical liberalism is a philosophy of individualism and self-responsibility. Classical liberals in the United States believe that if the economy is left to the natural forces of supply and demand, free of government intervention, the result is the most abundant satisfaction of human wants. Modern classical liberals oppose the concepts of social democracy and the welfare state.

Modern liberalism

In 1883, Lester Frank Ward (1841–1913) published Dynamic Sociology: Or Applied Social Science, as Based Upon Statical Sociology and the Less Complex Sciences and laid out the basic tenets of modern American liberalism while at the same time attacking the laissez-faire policies advocated by Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner.[19] Ward was a passionate advocate for a sociology that would intelligently and scientifically direct the development of society.[20]

Another influential thinker in the Progressive Era was Herbert Croly (1869–1930). He effectively combined classical liberal theory with progressive philosophy and founded the periodical The New Republic to present his ideas. Croly presented the case for a mixed economy, increased spending on education and the creation of a society based on the "brotherhood of mankind". In 1909, Croly published The Promise of American Life in which he proposed raising the general standard of living by means of economic planning, though he opposed aggressive unionization.[21] In The Techniques of Democracy (1915), Croly argued against both dogmatic individualism and dogmatic socialism. As editor of The New Republic, he had the forum to reach the intellectual community.[22]

Liberalism wagers that a state [...] can be strong but constrained—strong because constrained. [...] Rights to education and other requirements for human development and security aim to advance the opportunity and personal dignity of minorities and to promote a creative and productive society. To guarantee those rights, liberals have supported a wider social and economic role for the state, counterbalanced by more robust guarantees of civil liberties and a wider social system of checks and balances anchored in an independent press and pluralistic society.

— Paul Starr, sociologist at Princeton University, The New Republic, March 2007


New Deal

President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945) came to office in 1933, amid the economic calamity of the Great Depression, offering the nation a New Deal intended to alleviate economic want and unemployment, provide greater opportunities and restore prosperity. His presidency from 1933 to 1945, the longest in the United States history, was marked by an increased role for the federal government in addressing the nation's economic and other problems. Work relief programs provided jobs, ambitious projects such as the Tennessee Valley Authority promoted economic development and a social-security system laid the groundwork for the nation's modern welfare system. The Great Depression dragged on through the 1930s despite the New Deal programs, which were met with mixed success in solving the nation's economic problems. Economic progress for minorities was hindered by discrimination, about which the Roosevelt administration did less than subsequent administrations, but more than had been done before. The New Deal provided direct relief for minorities in the 1930s through the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Public Works Administration (PWA), the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and other agencies and during World War II executive orders and the Fair Employment Practices Commission opened millions of new jobs to minorities and forbade discrimination in companies with government contracts. The 1.5 million black veterans in 1945 were fully entitled to generous veteran benefits from the GI Bill on the same basis as everyone else.[23]

The New Deal consisted of three types of programs designed to produce "Relief, Recovery and Reform".[24]

Relief was the immediate effort to help the one-third of the population that was hardest hit by the depression. Roosevelt expanded Herbert Hoover's Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) work relief program and added the CCC, the PWA and the WPA. In 1935, the Social Security Act and unemployment insurance programs were added. Separate programs were set up for relief in rural areas, such as the Resettlement Administration and Farm Security Administration.

Recovery programs sought to restore the economy to pre-depression levels. It involved deficit spending, dropping the gold standard, efforts to re-inflate farm prices that were too low and efforts to increase foreign trade. New Deal efforts to help the United States recuperate were chiefly channeled through a Hoover program, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC).

Reform was based on the assumption that the depression was caused by the inherent market instability and that government intervention was necessary to rationalize and stabilize the economy and to balance the interests of farmers, business and labor. Reform measures included the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), regulation of Wall Street by the Securities Exchange Act (SEA), the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) for farm programs, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance for bank deposits enacted through the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933 and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), also known as the Wagner Act, dealing with labor-management relations. Despite some New Dealers's urgings, there was no major anti-trust program. Roosevelt opposed socialism (in the sense of state ownership of the means of production) and only one major program, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), involved government ownership of the means of production.[25]

Roosevelt's presidency was dominated by isolationism in international affairs until 1938, when the United States developed an increasingly central role in World War II, especially after the United States formal entry into the war in 1941. Anticipating the post-war period, Roosevelt strongly supported proposals to create a United Nations organization as a means of encouraging mutual cooperation to solve problems on the international stage. His commitment to internationalist ideals was in the tradition of Woodrow Wilson, architect of the failed League of Nations.[26] His support led for the establishment of the United Nations, with the proviso that the United States would have a veto power.[27][28]

Liberalism during the Cold War

American liberalism in the Cold War-era was the immediate heir to Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and the slightly more distant heir to the progressives of the early 20th century.[29] Sol Stern wrote that "Cold War liberalism deserves credit for the greatest American achievement since World War II—winning the Cold War".[30]

The essential tenets of Cold War liberalism can be found in Roosevelt's Four Freedoms (1941). Of these, freedom of speech and of religion were classic liberal freedoms as was freedom from fear (freedom from tyrannical government), but freedom from want was another matter. Roosevelt proposed a notion of freedom that went beyond government non-interference in private lives. Freedom from want could justify positive government action to meet economic needs, a idea more associated with the concepts of Abraham Lincoln's Republican Party, Henry Clay's Whig Party and Alexander Hamilton's economic principles of government intervention and subsidy than the more radical socialism and social democracy of European thinkers, or with prior versions of classical liberalism as represented by Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party and Andrew Jackson's Democratic Party.

In the 1950s and 1960s, both major American political parties included liberal and conservative factions. The Democratic Party had on one hand Northern and Western liberals and on the other generally conservative Southern whites. Difficult to classify were the Northern urban Democratic political machines. The urban machines had supported New Deal economic policies, but slowly came apart over racial issues. Some historians have divided the Republican Party into liberal Wall Street and conservative Main Street factions while others have noted that the Republican Party's conservatives came from landlocked states (Robert Taft Jr. of Ohio and Barry Goldwater of Arizona) and the liberals tended to come from California (Earl Warren and Pete McCloskey), New York (Nelson Rockefeller) and other coastal states.

Opposing both communism and conservatism, Cold War liberalism resembled earlier liberalisms in its views on many social issues and personal liberty, but its economic views were not those of free-market Jeffersonian liberalism nor those of European social democrats. They never endorsed state socialism, but did call for spending on education, science and infrastructure, notably the expansion of NASA and the construction of the Interstate Highway System. Their progressive ideas continued the legacy of Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Most prominent and constant among the positions of Cold War liberalism were:

  • Support for a domestic economy built on a balance of power between labor (in the form of organized unions) and management (with a tendency to be more interested in large corporations than in small business).
  • A foreign policy focused on containing the Soviet Union and its allies, one factor leading to its dissolution at the end of 1991.
  • The continuation and expansion of New Deal social welfare programs (in the broad sense of welfare, including programs such as Social Security).
  • An embrace of Keynesian economics. By way of compromise with political groupings to their right, this often became, in practice military Keynesianism.

At first, liberals generally did not see Franklin D. Roosevelt's successor Harry S. Truman as one of their own, viewing him as a Democratic Party hack. However, liberal politicians and liberal organizations such as the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) sided with Truman in opposing communism both at home and abroad, sometimes at the sacrifice of civil liberties.[31] For example, Hubert Humphrey put before the Senate in 1950 a bill to establish detention centers where those declared subversive by the President could be held without trial, but it did not pass.

Liberals were united in their opposition to McCarthyism.[32]

liberal consensus

By 1950, the liberal ideology was so intellectually dominant that the literary critic Lionel Trilling wrote that "liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition, [...] there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in circulation".[33]

For almost two decades, Cold War liberalism remained the dominant paradigm in American politics, peaking with the landslide victory of Lyndon B. Johnson over Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election. Johnson had been a New Deal Democrat in the 1930s and by the 1950s had decided that the Democratic Party had to break from its segregationist past and endorse racial liberalism as well as economic liberalism.

Liberals and civil rights

Cold War liberalism emerged at a time when most African Americans were politically and economically disenfranchised. Beginning with To Secure These Rights, an official report issued by the Truman White House in 1947, self-proclaimed liberals increasingly embraced the civil rights movement. In 1948, President Truman desegregated the armed forces and the Democrats inserted a strong civil-rights plank in the party platform even though delegates from the Deep South walked out and nominated a third-party ticket, the Dixiecrats, headed by Strom Thurmond. Truman abolished discrimination in the Armed Forces, leading to the integration of military units in the early 1950s. However, no civil rights legislation was passed until a weak bill in 1957.[34]

During the 1960s, relations between white liberals and the civil rights movement became increasingly strained as civil-rights leaders accused liberal politicians of temporizing and procrastinating, although they realized they needed the support of Northern whites to pass any legislation over Southern obstructionism. Many white liberals believed the grassroots movement for civil rights would only anger many Southern whites and make it even more difficult to pass civil rights laws through Congress. In response to that concern, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. agreed to tone down the March on Washington in 1963. President John F. Kennedy finally endorsed the March on Washington and proposed what would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but he could not get it passed during his lifetime. Lyndon B. Johnson, who took the presidential office in November 1963 following Kennedy's assassination, used the image of Kennedy's martyrdom to mobilize Northern support, along with the black-leadership community, to pass major civil-rights legislation: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The result was an end to legalized segregation and an end to restrictions on black voting. However, it was followed by a wave of black riots in the inner cities, which made for "long hot summers" in every major city from 1964 through 1970. The riots alienated much of the white working class that had been the base of the labor-union element in the civil-rights coalition.[35]

The civil-rights movement itself was becoming fractured. On March 8, 1964, Malcolm X stated he was going to organize a black-nationalist organization that would try to "heighten the political consciousness" of African Americans.[36] By 1966, a Black Power movement had emerged. Black Power advocates accused white liberals of trying to control the civil-rights agenda. Proponents of Black Power wanted African-Americans to follow an ethnic model for obtaining power, not unlike that of Democratic political machines in large cities. This put them on a collision course with urban machine politicians and on its edges the Black Power movement contained racial separatists who wanted to give up on integration altogether—a program that could not be endorsed by American liberals of any race. The mere existence of such individuals (who always got more media attention than their actual numbers might have warranted) contributed to white backlash against liberals and civil rights activists.[37]

Liberals and Vietnam

While the civil rights movement isolated liberals from the working class and Southern Democrats, the Vietnam War threw another wedge into the liberal ranks, dividing pro-war "hawks" such as Senator Henry M. Jackson from "doves" such as Senator and 1972 presidential candidate George McGovern. As the war became the leading political issue of the day, agreement on domestic matters was not enough to hold the liberal consensus together.

Vietnam was part of the strategy of containment of Soviet Communism which began in earnest after World War II with the descent of the so-called Iron Curtain. In the 1960 presidential campaign, Kennedy was more "hawkish" on Southeast Asia than Richard Nixon. Although it can be argued that the war expanded only under Johnson, there was much continuity of their cabinets.

A large portion of the growing opposition to the war came from within liberal ranks. After Johnson refused to run again, assassination removed Robert F. Kennedy from contention and noted liberal Vice President Hubert Humphrey emerged from the disastrous 1968 Democratic National Convention with the presidential nomination of a deeply divided party. Much of the party's right wing had left to support Governor of Alabama George Wallace. The result was a narrow victory for Republican Richard Nixon, a man who was largely regarded as from the old Northeast Republican establishment despite his being a California native. Nixon enacted many liberal policies, including the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, normalizing relations with Communist China and starting the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks to reduce the availability of ballistic missiles.

Richard Nixon and the liberal consensus

Liberal Gallup 8-10
Percent of self-identified liberals in the United States broken down by state according to Gallup, August 2010; darker colors mean more liberals per state (click image for details)

Liberals criticized Nixon for reasons going back to his attacks on Alger Hiss, whom Nixon accused of being a spy for the Soviets. Criticism on Nixon continued during the Vietnam War. Yet as President, Nixon had many policy positions that can only be described as liberal. Before Nixon was elected, the liberal wing of his own party favored politicians such as Nelson Rockefeller and William Scranton while in the 1968 presidential election Nixon appealed to a "silent majority" of conservatives, disgusted and frightened by soaring crime rates and widespread race riots.[38] Nixon's Enemies List was composed largely of liberals despite his pursuing many liberal policies, often through executive orders. Examples include the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency which he achieved without a vote in Congress and the increase in funding for liberal programs like the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.[39] One of his top advisers, liberal Daniel Patrick Moynihan, said that "Nixon mostly opted for liberal policies, merely clothing them [...] in conservative rhetoric".[40] Nixon's conservative rhetoric rallied his base, but in addition to support for such liberal causes as the arts and the environment he supported liberalization of laws against recreational drugs and even—to the astonishment of conservatives—imposed wage and price controls to counteract inflation. Noam Chomsky, who often attacks liberalism from the far-left, has called Nixon "in many respects the last liberal president".[41] Historians increasingly emphasize the liberalism of his administration's policies while not attributing them to Nixon personally.[42]

The 1965–1974 period was a major liberal activist era in Congress, with the Democratic-led Congresses during the presidency of Richard Nixon continuing to produce liberal domestic policies. They organized themselves internally to round up votes, track legislation, mobilize interests and produce bills without direct assistance from the White House. A wide range of progressive measures were carried out, such as in social security (with a 20% benefit increase and linkage to automatic cost-of-living increases in 1972), public welfare (with expansion of unemployment compensation, food stamps and supplemental security income additions to social security), workplace rules (with the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970), urban aid (with the addition of mass transit subsidies to highway construction enactments), environmentalism (with the passage of the National Environmental Protection Act of 1969 and the Clean Air Act of 1970), aid to education (including Title IX in 1972), civil rights (with the extension of the Voting Rights Act in 1970)[43] and nutrition (with the establishment of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children in 1972).[44]

The political dominance of the liberal consensus even into the Nixon years can best be seen in policies like the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency or in Nixon's failed proposal to replace the welfare system with a guaranteed annual income by way of a negative income tax. Affirmative action in its most quota-oriented form was a Nixon administration policy. Even the Nixon "War on Drugs" allocated two-thirds of its funds for treatment, a far higher ratio than was to be the case under any subsequent President, Republican or Democrat. Additionally, Nixon's normalization of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China and his policy of détente with the Soviet Union were likely more popular with liberals than with his conservative base. Nixon also successfully supported a cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security recipients.

An opposing view offered by Cass R. Sunstein in The Second Bill of Rights (Basic Books, 2004, ISBN 0-465-08332-3) argues that through his Supreme Court appointments Nixon effectively ended a decades-long expansion under United States law of economic rights along the lines of those put forward in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly.


During the Nixon years and through the 1970s, the liberal consensus began to come apart. The alliance with white Southern Democrats had been lost in the Civil Rights era. While the steady enfranchisement of African Americans expanded the electorate to include many new voters sympathetic to liberal views, it was not quite enough to make up for the loss of some Southern Democrats. Organized labor, long a bulwark of the liberal consensus, was past the peak of its power in the United States and many unions had remained in favor of the Vietnam War even as liberal politicians increasingly turned against it. Within the Democratic Party leadership, there was a turn toward moderation on racial themes after the defeat of liberal George McGovern in 1972.[45]

Meanwhile in the Republican ranks, a new wing of the party emerged. The anti-establishment conservatives who had been aroused by Barry Goldwater in 1964 challenged the more liberal leadership in 1976 and took control of the party under Ronald Reagan in 1980. Liberal Republicans faded away even in their Northeastern strongholds.[46] More centrist groups, like the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), supported Bill Clinton and challenged liberals for control of the Democratic Party.[47] Clinton portrayed himself as a centrist "New Democrat". Thus, he distanced himself from New Deal Democrats. With help from the Southern-dominated DLC, Clinton claimed the center of national politics.[48]

On January 1, 2013, President Barack Obama succeeded in raising taxes on the rich while keeping them steady on the middle class.[49] On January 21, 2013, Obama delivered his second inaugural address that championed numerous liberal causes.


While it is difficult to gather demographic information on ideological groups, recent surveys by The New York Times and CBS News indicate that between 18% and 27% of American adults identify as liberal, versus moderate or conservative.[50] In the 2008 presidential election, exit polls showed that 22% of the electorate self-identified as "liberal".[51] According to a 2004 study by the Pew Research Center, liberals were tied with the conservative sub-group, the "Enterprisers", for the most affluent group and were the ideological demographic with the highest rate of college education. Of those who identified as liberal, 49% were college graduates and 41% had household incomes exceeding $75,000, compared to 27% and 28% as the national average, respectively.[52]

Liberalism also remains the dominant political ideology in academia, with 72% of full-time faculty identifying as liberal in a 2004 study relying on 1999 data from the North American Academic Study Survey.[53] The social sciences and humanities were most liberal whereas business and engineering departments were the least liberal. However, even in the business departments liberals outnumbered conservatives 49% to 39%.

Exit polls show nearly 90% of liberals voted for Democrats in House elections since 2006. They voted 88% for Democrats in 2014; 88% in 2012; 93% in 2010; 89% in 2008; and 89% in 2006. Before that, they were in the low 80s: 80% in 2004; 81% in 2002; 84% in 2000; 84% in 1998; 82% in 1996; 81% in 1994; and 81% in 1992.[54]

See also


  1. ^ Jeffries, John W. (1990). "The "New" New Deal: FDR and American Liberalism, 1937–1945". Political Science Quarterly. 105 (3): 397–418. JSTOR 2150824.
  2. ^ Pena, David S. Economic Barbarism and Managerialism, 2001, p. 35
  3. ^ Louis Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America, (1991) p. 4.
  4. ^ "Liberalism in America: A Note for Europeans", Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., in The Politics of Hope, (1962)
  5. ^ Bryan-Paul Frost; Jeffrey Sikkenga (2003). History of American Political Thought. Lexington Books. p. 33. ISBN 9780739106242.
  6. ^ William W. Freehling, "The Founding Fathers and Slavery." American Historical Review 77.1 (1972): 81-93. online
  7. ^ Alfred Fernbach and Charles Julian Bishko, Charting democracy in America (1995)
  8. ^ Robert Allen Rutland, The Democrats: from Jefferson to Clinton? (1995) p. 61
  9. ^ Michael J. Sandel, Democracy's Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy (1996) p. 157
  10. ^ Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (2006)
  11. ^ John D. Buenker, John C. Burnham, and Robert M. Crunden, Progressivism (1986)
  12. ^ Richard Jensen, "Democracy, Republicanism and Efficiency: The Values of American Politics, 1885–1930," in Byron Shafer and Anthony Badger, eds, Contesting Democracy: Substance and Structure in American Political History, 1775–2000 (2001) pp. 149–80
  13. ^ a b c d Reichley, A. James (2000). The Life of the Parties. pp. 209–10.
  14. ^ Sidney M. Milkis and Jerome M. Mileur, The New Deal and the triumph of liberalism (2002)
  15. ^ "Leonhardt, David (13 April 2010) Taxing the Rich, Over Time The New York Times". 2010-04-13. Retrieved 2012-04-08.
  16. ^ Sean Wilentz, The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974–2008 (2009)
  17. ^ Iwan Morgan, "Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and the new democratic economics." Historical Journal 47.4 (2004): 1015-1039. online
  18. ^ Adams, Ian, Political Ideology Today (2002), Manchester University Press, p. 20
  19. ^ Henry Steele Commager, ed., Lester Ward and the Welfare State (1967)
  20. ^ on Ward and Sumner see Charlotte G. O'Kelley, and John W. Petras, "Images of Man in Early American Sociology. Part 2: The Changing Concept of Social Reform," Journal of the History of ohe Behavioral Sciences 1970 6(4): 317–34
  21. ^ Byron Dexter, "Herbert Croly and the Promise of American Life," Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 2 (June 1955), pp. 197–218 in JSTOR
  22. ^ David W. Levy, Herbert Croly of the New Republic: The Life and Thought of an American Progressive (1985)
  23. ^ Conrad Black, Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom (2005)
  24. ^ Harvard Sitkoff, ed. Fifty Years Later: The New Deal Evaluated (1985)
  25. ^ James MacGregor Burns, Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox: Vol. 1, 1882–1940 (1956)
  26. ^ "Franklin Roosevelt Autographs - Presidential". Raab Collection. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
  27. ^ Alonzo Hamby, For the Survival of Democracy: Franklin Roosevelt and the World Crisis of the 1930s (1996)
  28. ^ James MacGregor Burns, Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom 1940–1945 (1970)
  29. ^ Alonzo L. Hamby, Liberalism and Its Challengers: From F.D.R. to Bush (1992)
  30. ^ Stern, Sol (Winter, 2010) "The Ramparts I Watched." City Journal.
  31. ^ Alonzo L. Hamby, Man of the People: A Life of Harry S. Truman (1995)
  32. ^ Richard M. Fried, Nightmare in Red: The McCarthy Era in Perspective (1991)
  33. ^ Alexander Bloom, Prodigal sons: the New York intellectuals & their world (1986) p. 178
  34. ^ James T. Patterson, Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974 (1996) pp. 148–64, 413
  35. ^ Patterson, Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974 pp. 542–47
  36. ^ Handler, M. S. (March 9, 1964). "Malcolm X Splits with Muhammad". The New York Times. Retrieved August 1, 2008.
  37. ^ Patterson, Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1974 pp. 550–55, 652–68
  38. ^ Michael W. Flamm, Law and Order: Street Crime, Civil Unrest, and the Crisis of Liberalism in the 1960s (2007)
  39. ^ Richard J. Jensen, "The Culture Wars, 1965–1995: A Historian's Map". Journal of Social History 29.Supplement (1995) pp. 17–37. JSTOR 3789064.
  40. ^ Robert Weisbrot; G. Calvin Mackenzie (2008). The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960s. Penguin. p. 291. ISBN 9781440637513.
  41. ^ Noam Chomsky (June 2000). "The Colombia Plan: April 2000". Z Magazine. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
  42. ^ Melvin Small (2013). A Companion to Richard M. Nixon. Wiley. p. 495. ISBN 978-1-4443-4093-8.
  43. ^ Renka, Russell D. (March 26, 2010). "Richard Nixon and the Imperial Presidency". Southeast Missouri State University. UI320 – The Modern Presidency. Archived from the original on February 13, 2013. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  44. ^ McGovern, George (2002). The Third Freedom. ISBN 9780742521254.
  45. ^ Hanes Walton (2000). Reelection: William Jefferson Clinton as a Native-son Presidential Candidate. Columbia UP. pp. 38–39. ISBN 9780231115520.
  46. ^ Nicol C. Rae, The decline and fall of the liberal Republicans: From 1952 to the present (Oxford University Press, 1989)
  47. ^ Stephen A. Borrelli, "Finding the third way: Bill Clinton, the DLC, and the Democratic platform of 1992." Journal of Policy History 13#4 (2001) pp. 429–62.
  48. ^ Iwan Morgan, "Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and the new democratic economics." The Historical Journal 47#4 (2004): 1015–39. online
  49. ^ Peter Baker, "Obama Offers Liberal Vision: 'We Must Act,'" New York Times Jan. 21, 2013, p. 1
  50. ^ "New York Times/CBS News Poll: The War in Afghanistan". New York Times. 2009-12-10. Retrieved 2010-01-30.
  51. ^ "Exit Polls Conducted by Edison Research Media". CNN. 2008-11-04. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  52. ^ "Beyond Red vs. Blue" (PDF). Pew Research Center. May 10, 2005. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  53. ^ Kurtz, H. (March 29, 2005). "College Faculties A Most Liberal Lot, Study Finds". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  54. ^ "Exit Polls 1992-2014". The New York Times. November 4, 2014.

Further reading

  • Adams, Ian (2001). Political Ideology Today. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-719-06020-6.
  • Alterman, Eric. The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama (2012) excerpt
  • Atkins, Curtis Gene. "Forging a New Democratic Party: The Politics of the Third Way From Clinton to Obama." (PhD dissertation York U. 2015) online.
  • Baer, Kenneth. Reinventing Democrats: The Politics of Liberalism from Reagan to Clinton (2000).
  • Bell, J. and T. Stanley, eds. Making Sense of American Liberalism (2012)
  • Bloodworth, Jeffrey. Losing the Center: The Decline of American Liberalism, 1968--1992 (U Press of Kentucky, 2013). excerpt
  • Brinkley, Alan. The end of reform: New Deal liberalism in recession and war (1996), 1937-1945.
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Americans for Democratic Action

Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) (1947-present) is a liberal American political organization advocating progressive policies. ADA works for social and economic justice through lobbying, grassroots organizing, research, and supporting progressive candidates.

Center for American Progress

The Center for American Progress (CAP) is a public policy research and advocacy organization which presents a liberal viewpoint on economic and social issues. It has its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The president and chief executive officer of CAP is Neera Tanden, who worked for the Obama and Clinton administrations and for Hillary Clinton's campaigns. The first president and CEO was John Podesta, who has served as White House Chief of Staff to U.S. President Bill Clinton and as the chairman of the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. Podesta remained with the organization as chairman of the board until he joined the Obama White House staff in December 2013. Tom Daschle is the current chairman.The Center for American Progress has a youth-engagement organization, Generation Progress, and a sister advocacy organization, the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF). Citing Podesta's influence in the formation of the Obama Administration, a November 2008 article in Time stated that "not since the Heritage Foundation helped guide Ronald Reagan's transition in 1981 has a single outside group held so much sway".

Culture Warrior

Culture Warrior is a book by Fox News Channel political commentator Bill O'Reilly, published in the fall of 2006. O'Reilly asserts that the United States is in the midst of a "culture war" between "traditionalists" and "secular-progressives". O'Reilly appeared on The Colbert Report to promote the book and revealed he is in the Grand Canyon in the picture on the cover.

O'Reilly declares war against "the committed forces of the secular-progressive movement that want to dramatically change America, molding it in the image of Western Europe". The term secular progressive, often abbreviated as "S-P", is used extensively throughout the book. O'Reilly's S-Ps are virtual socialists who are hostile to Christianity and traditional American values. Funded by a few far-left billionaires, he asserts that the S-Ps are implementing change in the United States by dominating major newspapers and network television, through the work of such organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union, and by "judicial fiat".

Culture of Corruption

Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies is a book written by conservative author Michelle Malkin. The book claims that the Barack Obama administration has had dozens of instances of corruption. The title is a reference to "culture of corruption", a political slogan used by Democrats to refer to events that happened during the presidency of George W. Bush.

The book spent six weeks at #1 on the hardcover non-fiction section of the New York Times Best Seller list.In August 2010, an updated paperback edition with three new chapters was published.

Daily Kos

Daily Kos ( KOHSS) is a group blog and internet forum focused on the Democratic Party and liberal American politics. Additionally, the site features a participatory political encyclopedia ("DKosopedia"), glossaries, and other content. It is sometimes considered an example of "netroots" activism.

It was founded in 2002 by Markos Moulitsas and takes the name Kos from the last syllable of his first name, his nickname while in the military.

Good Tidings and Great Joy

Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas is a 2013 book by Sarah Palin that became a New York Times Bestseller. The book makes "an emphatic case for the true meaning of Christmas." The title of the book is an allusion to Luke 2:10 in the New Testament. Palin promoted the book with a 15-city tour. According to Publishers Weekly, the book sold 209,591 copies in 2013.

Left Coast

Left Coast is a political expression that implies that the West Coast of the United States leans politically to the left or the expression can refer to states that lean politically left. The implication is that the states of California, Oregon, and Washington tend to vote for the Democratic Party, particularly in Coastal California, the Eugene and Portland metropolitan areas in Oregon, and the Puget Sound region in Washington. Also, it means that the people who lives in the West Coast region except Alaska have a generally more liberal or progressive attitude than the rest of the country. The phrase plays on the fact that the West coast of the U.S. is on the left of the contiguous 48 states when viewing a map with north oriented at the top.

In the United States, the expression is used pejoratively by right-leaning people, but proudly by people on the left. Conservative columnist James Hirsen writes the "Left Coast Report", which puts down Hollywood celebrities and their scandals as well as providing conservative political commentary. He has also written a book, Tales from the Left Coast: True Stories of Hollywood Stars and Their Outrageous Politics. On the other side, the term is used by cartoonist Ted Rall as the name of his left-leaning political comic strip. Writer, voiceover actor, and gay rights activist Ben Patrick Johnson calls his video blog Life on the Left Coast. Fundraiser and CEO of San Francisco-based nonprofit Tides, Drummond Pike, maintains a CEO blog entitled Notes from the Left Coast.

Liberal Gun Club

Liberal Gun Club is an American gun owners group composed primarily of people with left-of-center political views. The group has a pro-Second Amendment position on gun ownership despite favoring and voting for politicians that don't have their same beliefs.In regard to gun control, the group favors "root cause mitigation for violence prevention, stronger mental health care, addressing poverty, homelessness and unemployment rather than focusing on prohibiting or restricting one tool." They also generally oppose "assault weapon" bans, but individual members have a wide range of opinions. In 2014, the group had about 1,200 members. From 2016 to 2017, after the Pulse Nightclub shooting and the Trump election, membership swelled 65% year over year and the group's Facebook and social media presence grew significantly as well.

Liberal Party of New York

The Liberal Party of New York is a minor American political party that has been active only in the state of New York. Its platform supports a standard set of socially liberal policies: it supports the right to abortion, increased spending on education, and universal health care.

Liberal hawk

The term liberal hawk refers to a politically liberal person (in the American sense of the term) who supports a hawkish, interventionist foreign policy.

Modern liberalism in the United States

Modern liberalism in the United States is the dominant version of liberalism in the United States. Ideologically, all American parties are liberal and always have been. Essentially, they espouse classical liberalism—that is, a form of democratized Whig constitutionalism, plus the free market. The point of difference comes with the influence of social liberalism and combines ideas of civil liberty and equality with support for social justice and a mixed economy. Economically, modern American liberalism opposes cuts to the social safety net and supports a role for government in reducing inequality, providing education, ensuring access to healthcare, regulating economic activity and protecting the natural environment. This form of liberalism took shape in the 20th century United States as the franchise and other civil rights were extended to a larger class of citizens. Major examples include Theodore Roosevelt's New Nationalism, Woodrow Wilson's New Freedom, Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, Harry S. Truman's Fair Deal, John F. Kennedy's New Frontier and Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society.

In the first half of the 20th century, both major American parties had a conservative wing and a liberal wing. The conservative Northern Republicans and the conservative Southern Democrats formed the conservative coalition which dominated the Congress in the pre-Civil Rights era. As the Democratic Party under President Johnson began to support civil rights, the formerly Solid South, meaning solidly Democratic, became solidly Republican, except in districts with a large number of African-American voters. Starting in the 20th century, there has also been a sharp division between liberals who tend to live in denser, more heterogeneous communities and conservatives who tend to live in less dense, more homogeneous communities. Liberals as a group are referred to as the left and conservatives the right. The Democratic Party is considered liberal and the Republican Party is considered conservative.

New Deal coalition

The New Deal coalition was the alignment of interest groups and voting blocs in the United States that supported the New Deal and voted for Democratic presidential candidates from 1932 until the late 1960s. It made the Democratic Party the majority party during that period, losing only to Dwight D. Eisenhower, a pro-New Deal Republican, in 1952 and 1956. Franklin D. Roosevelt forged a coalition that included the Democratic state party organizations, city machines, labor unions, blue collar workers, minorities (racial, ethnic, and religious), farmers, white Southerners, people on relief, and intellectuals. The coalition began to fall apart with the bitter factionalism during the 1968 election, but it remains the model that party activists seek to replicate.

Real Time with Bill Maher

Real Time with Bill Maher is a talk show that airs weekly on HBO, hosted by comedian and political satirist Bill Maher. Much like his previous series Politically Incorrect on Comedy Central and later ABC, Real Time features a panel of guests who discuss current events in politics and the media. Unlike the previous show, guests are usually better versed in the subject matter: more experts such as journalists, professors, and politicians participate in the panel, and fewer actors and celebrities are included.

Real Time is a weekly hour-long program with a studio audience, airing live on Friday nights at 10:00 pm EST. It originates from Studio 33 ("The Bob Barker Studio") at CBS Television City in Los Angeles. In addition, a 10- to 15-minute "Overtime" segment quickly follows the show on YouTube (Live Streams), which answers questions posted by viewers through HBO's online website for the show.

The show's seventeenth season premiered on January 18, 2019. HBO has renewed Real Time through 2020.

Salon (website)

Salon is an American news and opinion website, created by David Talbot in 1995 and currently owned by the Salon Media Group (OTCQB: SLNM). It publishes articles on U.S. politics, culture, and current events and has a politically progressive, liberal editorial stance. Since 2007, the company has been funded by John Warnock and William Hambrecht, through cash injections.Salon's headquarters is located at 870 Market Street San Francisco, California.

Talking Points Memo

Talking Points Memo (or TPM) is a web-based progressive political journalism website created and run by Josh Marshall that debuted on November 12, 2000. The name is a reference to the memo (short list) with the issues (points) discussed by one's side in a debate or used to support a position taken on an issue. By 2007, TPM received an average of 400,000 page views every weekday.

The David Pakman Show

The David Pakman Show (TDPS), originally Midweek Politics with David Pakman, is a multi-platform politics and news talk show currently airing on television, radio, and the Internet, hosted by David Pakman.

The program first aired in August 2005 on WXOJ, a radio station located in Northampton, Massachusetts, later being nationally syndicated, and eventually achieving broader international distribution in a number of countries, as well as online.The focus of the show is modern North-American politics and society, with frequent discussion of economics, science, religion in public life, culture, reason, gay rights, capital punishment and crime, policing, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, North-American foreign policy, technology, and other topical issues. The show is noted for interviewing a large number of fringe, or "extremist" personalities in an effort to expose their views, in addition to hundreds of interviews with professors, scientists, lawmakers, and others.

Urban Institute

The Urban Institute is a Washington D.C.-based think tank that carries out economic and social policy research to "open minds, shape decisions, and offer solutions". The institute receives funding from government contracts, foundations and private donors. The Urban Institute measures policy effects, compares options, shows which stakeholders get the most and least, tests conventional wisdom, reveals trends, and makes costs, benefits, and risks explicit. The Urban Institute has been referred to as "independent" and as "liberal".

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