Takeover - Intercollegiate Studies Institute


How the Left’s Quest for Social Justice Corrupted Liberalism

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How did liberals get to be the way they are today?

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How did liberals get to be the way they are today?

That’s the question many Americans are asking as they witness the efforts of the most left-wing president in American history. At last, historians Donald T. Critchlow and W. J. Rorabaugh supply the answer.

As the authors show, it is a mistake to see the Obama administration’s agenda as a single man’s vision. Equally flawed, they reveal, is the now-common argument that today’s liberalism is simply a continuation of early-twentieth-century progressivism. Today’s Left has embraced a more radical vision for transformative change: to remake all aspects of American life.

Takeover delineates the sharp break in the history of modern liberalism that began in the 1960s. Critchlow and Rorabaugh show how leftists in pursuit of “social justice” went from protest rallies to the halls of power by rewriting the Democratic Party’s presidential nominating rules for their own benefit and using the courts to advance their radical agenda. The authors masterfully connect the dots in America’s recent history, showing the close links among such seemingly unrelated causes as radical environmentalism, nationalized health care, class warfare, abortion rights, feminism, regulating the free market, assisted suicide, sex education, and energy policies to reduce consumption.

Takeover is a bold revisionist history that completely reshapes our understanding of the current political crisis.

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“Critchlow and Rorabaugh connect a radical shift in liberalism four decades ago to today’s liberal priorities of class warfare, nationalized health care, abortion rights, and energy restrictions. This study is necessary reading for anyone interested in the modern liberal movement and where it is heading in the age of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and other self-described ‘progressives.’ ”—Karl Rove “What happened to liberals? In this remarkable book, Critchlow and Rorabaugh take on a task the academy has heretofore either avoided or failed to complete. In concise, well-documented, narrative prose, they show how the old Democrat New Deal coalition was routed and replaced by ’60s-inspired, left-leaning party activists. Readers will clearly see the origins and development of the constituencies and policies of todayʼs Democratic Party.”—Michael Allen,, coauthor of A Patriot’s History of the United States, professor of history at the University of Washington, Tacoma“One of the few beliefs liberals and conservatives share is the conviction that the former are the ideological heirs of Wilsonian Progressives and FDR’s New Dealers. But in this provocative and thoughtful book, Critchlow and Rorabaugh argue that the species of progressivism embraced by Barack Obama and his supporters marks a radical break with the outlook of the old Progressives and their New Deal admirers. This book is going to cause an uproar on both the Left and the Right.”—Paul Rahe,, professor of history at Hillsdale College“Critchlow and Rorabaugh make clear that today’s Left is not your great-grandfather’s Progressivism. It’s much, much worse. Takeover superbly explains how the modern Left really is something new, and how its vision of ‘social justice’ is now firmly settled in too many corners of the American establishment.”—Steven F. Hayward,, author of The Age of Reagan“In this lively and insightful account, Critchlow and Rorabaugh range widely, retelling the crucial events of the past sixty years in a fresh manner, while embracing topics ranging from the origins of community organizing to the rise of euthanasia. The authors paint a troubling picture of a political movement that has betrayed the highest hopes of liberalism, rather than fulfilling them.”—Wilfred M. McClay,, SunTrust Chair of Excellence in Humanities at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

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