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The Progressives' CenturyPolitical Reform, Constitutional Government, and the Modern American State$
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Stephen Skowronek, Stephen M Engel, and Bruce Ackerman

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300204841

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300204841.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

How the Progressives Became the Tea Party’s Mortal Enemy

How the Progressives Became the Tea Party’s Mortal Enemy

Networks, Movements, and the Political Currency of Ideas

(p.453) 20 How the Progressives Became the Tea Party’s Mortal Enemy
The Progressives' Century

Steven M. Teles

Yale University Press

This chapter first traces the roots of the stylized history of Progressivism's role in American liberalism found in the pronouncements of Glenn Beck and the Tea Party to a small cadre of conservatives grouped around the Claremont Institute, with the political philosopher Charles Kesler at its center. It explains how the ideas of these political thinkers spread through the conservative movement, with particular attention to the Heritage Foundation as a central node of the network, and how it came to be available when the opportunity for wider dissemination opened. The second section examines how this critique exploded into broader circulation within the conservative movement. The third section investigates why the attack on Progressivism was so avidly embraced by Tea Party conservatives at this precise time, how it provided a coherent story of America and, with that, the emotional energy needed to mobilize an already historically inflected movement. The fourth section discusses how this fundamentalist perspective on the nation's history, and on President Obama's place in it, has more than its share of outright lunacy. The wilder versions of antiprogressivism advanced by Beck and the less cautious scholars who influenced him have obscured and overtaken a more nuanced critique within conservatism, one that liberals would do well to take seriously. The wrong response to Tea Party fundamentalism is to respond in kind and simply hunker down in an alternative belief system.

Keywords:   Progressives, Progressivism, conservatism, Tea Party, Glenn Beck, American liberalism, Claremont Institute, Charles Kesler

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