Politics and Vision: The ADA and American Liberalism, 1947-1985

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Politics and Vision: The ADA and American Liberalism, 1947-1985

By Steven M. Gillon
Oxford, 1987
289 pp.
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Based on manuscript collections, oral histories and interviews, this history of the Americans for Democratic Action is a model for how scholars should trace the connections of domestic politics with foreign policy. ADA members from the beginning were divided between allegiance to distant ideals and a commitment to politics as the art of the possible. The most painful crises and ultimate failure of the ADA revolved first around whether all issues should be subordinated to anti-communism and, then, around whether the Vietnam War was a practical failure or symptom of a fundamental perversion of American values. "Vietnam," writes Gillon, "was to liberalism what slavery was to the Civil War."

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