Losing the Center: The Decline of American Liberalism, 1968-1992
By Jeffrey Bloodworth
University Press of Kentucky,
Who remembers the fall of 1976, and the brief flurry of interest when it appeared that Senator James Buckley, the Conservative party incumbent in New York, might face a challenge from Monday Night Football’s Howard Cosell? Or that the first African American to win a majority-white district in the South was Harold Ford Sr., of Tennessee, in 1974—the year 74 liberal “Watergate babies” stormed the House? Jeffrey Bloodworth does. In his unusual multi-disciplinary effort, Losing the Center: The Decline of American Liberalism, 1968-1992, the Gannon University professor does more than serve up first-rate trivia. Combining political science, biography, and sociology, Bloodworth expertly traces the evolution of the Democratic Party and its attendant electoral woes from the “Vital Center” zenith of Arthur Schlesinger and John F. Kennedy to the “New Politics” debacle of George McGovern and the Nixon landslide of 1972. Along the way, Bloodworth sketches some fine political portraits to reaffirm Tip O’Neill’s famous maxim: All politics is local.