How the 1960s Shaped American Politics Today

Leonard Steinhorn
Leonard Steinhorn
American University

Leonard Steinhorn is a professor of communication and affiliate professor of history at American University, where he has twice been named Faculty Member of the Year. He currently serves as a political analyst for CBS News in Washington, D.C. He is the author of The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy, and co-author of By the Color of Our Skin: The Illusion of Integration and the Reality of Race, books that have generated widespread discussion and debate. Professor Steinhorn’s writings have been featured in several publications, including the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Salon, Politico, and Huffington Post, and he has served as an on-air historian for documentaries on CNN and The History Channel.

 

 

Overview

We may not wear bell bottoms and tie-dye t-shirts anymore, and let's not talk about what happened to our hair. But even though it's been half a century since the 1960s, it’s a decade that continues to reverberate in our society, politics, culture, and institutions to this very day. In so many ways it was the Sixties that spawned today's polarization and culture wars, which divide us now the way Vietnam did back then. From civil rights to feminism to gay liberation to the environmental movement to the silent majority, what started in the Sixties has shaped and influenced our country ever since. 

To many, the presidency of Barack Obama symbolized the liberation movements of the Sixties. But it's also important to ask how the Sixties produced the presidency of Donald Trump. It's the Sixties, its meaning and its legacy that may well be the dividing line in our politics today.

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