Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 July 2020
The contemporary versions of the major political coalitions in American politics demonstrate an attenuated relationship with the parties as they existed at the end of the 1940s, or even at the beginning of the 1960s. The transformation has certainly been less than complete. The Democratic Party continues to be closely associated with the mantle of liberalism, while the Republican Party continues to embrace conservative values and political positions across a wide range of issues. At a more profound level, however, the class and racial alignments of the parties have been radically transformed over the past sixty years, and liberalism and conservatism have taken on different meanings. As the previous chapters demonstrated, one central element of this transformation was the civil rights revolution in American politics. Race and civil rights do not, however, provide a complete account. Other important changes were occurring at the same time, with important consequences for the alignment of American political parties.