Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Daryl A. Carter

Committee Members

Elwood Watson, John Rankin


Polarization forced massive changes in the institutions of Washington throughout the 20th century, and the Democratic Party played a key role throughout. Under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Democratic Party formed the powerful New Deal coalition. The coalition faltered in the turbulent 1960s under the pressures of the Vietnam War and racial unrest. The chaotic 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago dealt the coalition a mortal wound. Young voters and activists gained an outsized voice in the party. Several crushing defeats in presidential elections followed as the party chose unelectable candidates who appealed to the passions of left-wing activists and interests. In 1992, Bill Clinton won the nomination and forced the party back to the center. Clinton’s success, however, drove the Republican Party further right as its efforts to destroy Clinton grew increasingly obsessive. The cumulative effect has been an increase in polarization and the weakening of institutions in Washington.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.