Joe Ryan-Hume

Research summary

My doctoral thesis – ‘Standing in Reagan’s Shadow: Liberal Strategies in a Conservative Age’ – questions the notion of conservative ascendancy and the so-called ‘Reagan revolution’ in 1980s America by reinterpreting the impact of liberalism at the time. Thoroughly examining how liberals functioned both within and distinct from the Democratic Party in opposition, I intend to dispel the argument that the history of 1980s liberalism is one of incompetence and ineffectiveness. Instead, I will highlight how the networks that formed and developed whilst in opposition helped liberals attain success at state and congressional level, as well as facilitate Bill Clinton’s subsequent presidential triumph in 1992. Furthermore, as this is the era in which Barack Obama – at the time an organiser for Ralph Nader’s Public Interest Group – and many of the President’s allies became politically active, it would be impossible to understand the present administration’s historic ascension without an examination of the political environment that first nurtured Obama and his cohort.

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