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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

Constitutional Conservatives Remember the Progressive Era

Constitutional Conservatives Remember the Progressive Era

(p.130) 6 Constitutional Conservatives Remember the Progressive Era
The Progressives' Century

Ken I. Kersch

Yale University Press

This chapter maps the contemporary right's nascent obsession with the Progressive era as a developmental phenomenon—as a stage in the trajectory of a political-intellectual movement advancing through time. To that end, it ventures three main claims. First, the recent conservative focus on Progressivism represents a shift on the right of understandings of the historical location or source of contemporary constitutional problems, an understanding informed by the sequence of constitutional conservatism's development through time: whereas (old) “originalist” legal conservatives adopted Progressive thinking in focusing their attention on countermajoritarian “activist judges” and criticized the New Deal for its weightless, substance-free pragmatism, recent conservatives have forged a more global critique of contemporary constitutional practice that moves beyond judges to the entire modern structure and theory of American government, finding its weighty and substantive blueprint in the Progressive era, and its extension and institutionalization in the New Deal. Second, this more foundational and comprehensive constitutional critique was forged outside legal academia in political science, particularly by Straussian political theorists. And third, the overarching character of this critique centered on the Progressive era serves a movement-building function by offering a set of understandings that can win the assent of the movement's diverse factions, including social conservatives and religious traditionalists, on the one hand, and economic conservatives and libertarians on the other.

Keywords:   political Right, conservatives, Progressive era, Progressives, Progressivism, constitutional conservatism

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