chapter  8
26 Pages

Liberal Activism and Intergovernmental Relations

ByDavid Brian Robertson

During the prosperous decades of the mid-twentieth century, liberal reformers increased Federal activism to cope with problems like illness, discrimination, poverty, pollution, urban decline, and barriers to education. The health policy battle is just one continuing fight of many that turn on growing Federal activism since the 1950s. Expanded Federal policies reacted to major changes that tore at the decentralized political structure of the United States in the decades after World War II. The states governments provided a political launching pad for post-war liberals who spearheaded the political response to the demands. Liberal Democrats inherited and layered new priorities upon the New Deal's grants activism. Dwight Eisenhower established a Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, charged with identifying Federal activities that could be turned over to the states. The Federal government was involved in areas of state and local governance in which it had never been prominently involved before—including education, health, criminal justice, workplace safety, and environmental protection.