chapter  9
18 Pages

Far from Paradise: Social Guardians in the Postmodern Era, 1980–2001

American economic and political reverses of the 1970s appeared to validate the assault on political intellectuals, social interventionists, and cultural liber­ als advanced by modern-day conservatives such as Barry Goldwater, George C. Wallace, and Richard M. Nixon. Frustration over Washington-centered politics and the liberationist tendencies of New Class professionals and social guardians played a major role in the restoration of Republican power to the White House in three national elections between 1980 and 1988. Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush now assumed leadership of the effort to discredit the knowledge professionals and public sector advocates associated with the dominant wing of the Democratic Party. Not until the presidential election of Arkansas gover­ nor Bill Clinton in 1992 did the Democrats find a way to reinvent themselves as a centrist and ideologically independent political force. Yet the Clinton ad­ ministration floundered on a series of fiascos that tied New Democrats to the perceived sins of the political intelligentsia and the cultural liberalism of the “baby-boomer” generation.