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date: 02 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the emergence of political and policy polarization in the post–World War II period. In the early Cold War years, a bipartisan foreign policy was evident in the Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy administrations. In domestic policy, Democrats and Republicans argued over the extent of the New Deal welfare and regulatory state, but there was little sentiment for returning to a laissez-faire weak state. Both parties were divided along regional lines, with Democrats composed of northeastern and southern regional factions, while Republicans divided generally along Northeast and Midwest factional lines. The 1960s, however, marked a turning point in general realignment, as Sunbelt states deserted the Democratic Party and turned largely Republican. Voter and party leadership became increasingly polarized beginning in the 1980s and would grow in intensity.

Keywords: factionalism, polarization, conservatism, liberalism, Cold War, Vietnam War, civil rights, New Left, New Democrat, New Right

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