Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home
Obama and America’s Political Future

Obama and America’s Political Future

Theda Skocpol

ISBN 9780674065970

Publication date: 09/04/2012

Request exam copy

Barack Obama’s galvanizing victory in 2008, coming amid the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s, opened the door to major reforms. But the president quickly faced skepticism from supporters and fierce opposition from Republicans, who scored sweeping wins in the 2010 midterm election. Here, noted political scientist Theda Skocpol surveys the political landscape and explores its most consequential questions: What happened to Obama’s “new New Deal”? Why have his achievements enraged opponents more than they have satisfied supporters? How has the Tea Party’s ascendance reshaped American politics?

Skocpol’s compelling account rises above conventional wisdom and overwrought rhetoric. The Obama administration’s response to the recession produced bold initiatives—health care reform, changes in college loans, financial regulation—that promise security and opportunity. But these reforms are complex and will take years to implement. Potential beneficiaries do not readily understand them, yet the reforms alarm powerful interests and political enemies, creating the volatile mix of confusion and fear from which Tea Party forces erupted. Skocpol dissects the popular and elite components of the Tea Party reaction that has boosted the Republican Party while pushing it far to the right at a critical juncture for U.S. politics and governance.

Skocpol’s analysis is accompanied by contributions from two fellow scholars and a former congressman. At this moment of economic uncertainty and extreme polarization, as voters prepare to render another verdict on Obama’s historic presidency, Skocpol and her respondents help us to understand its triumphs and setbacks and see where we might be headed next.

Praise

  • Skocpol's incisive account of the first two years of the Obama presidency's "new New Deal" begins by highlighting contrasts with the original New Deal era. She emphasizes significant contextual differences (economic conditions, media biases, public attitudes toward government) that would have daunted FDR himself, who, unlike Obama, enjoyed bipartisan support at the beginning of his administration…Informed by pathbreaking research on the Tea Party, Skocpol's provocative, original, and lively analysis is supplemented by contributions from Larry M. Bartels, Mickey Edwards, and Suzanne Mettler. Anyone who is passionately concerned about politics and prefers thoughtful discussion to polemic will find this book invaluable.

    —Publishers Weekly

Authors

  • Theda Skocpol is Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University. Her previous works include the prize-winning States and Social Revolutions.
  • Daniel Carpenter is Allie S. Freed Professor of Government at Harvard University and author of the prizewinning books Reputation and Power and The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy. At Harvard, he has led the creation of the Digital Archive of Antislavery and Anti-Segregation Petitions and the Digital Archive of Native American Petitions.

Book Details

  • 216 pages
  • 5 x 7-1/2 inches
  • Harvard University Press
  • Commentaries by Larry M. Bartels, Mickey Edwards, and Suzanne Mettler
  • Foreword by Daniel Carpenter

From this author

Recommendations