September 4, 2012

Theda Skocpol

Harvard Book Store welcomes back Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard THEDA SKOCPOL for a discussion of her book, Obama and America's Political Future.


Barack Obama’s galvanizing victory in 2008, coming amid the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s, opened the door to major reforms. But the president quickly faced skepticism from supporters and fierce opposition from Republicans, who scored sweeping wins in the 2010 midterm election. Here, noted political scientist Theda Skocpol surveys the political landscape and explores its most consequential questions: What happened to Obama’s “new New Deal”? Why have his achievements enraged opponents more than they have satisfied supporters? How has the Tea Party’s ascendance reshaped American politics?

Theda Skocpol’s compelling account rises above conventional wisdom and overwrought rhetoric. The Obama administration’s response to the recession produced bold initiatives—health care reform, changes in college loans, financial regulation—that promise security and opportunity. But these reforms are complex and will take years to implement. Potential beneficiaries do not readily understand them, yet the reforms alarm powerful interests and political enemies, creating the volatile mix of confusion and fear from which Tea Party forces erupted. Skocpol dissects the popular and elite components of the Tea Party reaction that has boosted the Republican Party while pushing it far to the right at a critical juncture for U.S. politics and governance. As voters prepare to render another verdict on Obama’s historic presidency, Skocpol and her respondents help us to understand its triumphs and setbacks and see where we might be headed next.

About Author(s)

Theda Skocpol is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and past president of the American Political Science Association.