Ever since it first gelled as a field of study, students of American Political Development have focused particular attention on Werner Sombart's classic question, "Why is There No Socialism in the United States?" To understand why the scope of state intervention in the American economy is so limited, and why the welfare state is so small, these scholars have examined the weakness of American labor and the power of business interests, our fractured political institutions, and Americans' "anti-statist" ideology. Taken together, these explanations suggest that the forces arrayed against state development are so powerful that the inverse of Sombart's question may be more apt: "Why Is The State So Large in the United States?"
This, of course, is the question that conservatives and libertarians have asked themselves ever since the New Deal, and with increasing alarm since the Great Society and the explosion of the American regulatory state in the early 1970s. This conference investigates the role that conservatives have played in the growth of the American state, through close analysis of three issues -- environmental regulation, education policy, and Social Security -- over three periods: the New Deal to the Great Society; the Great Society to the 1980s, and; the 1980s to present. In each case, the authors will address the following questions:
The answers that the conference participants -- political scientists, lawyers, and historians -- have for these questions should be of interest not just to scholars in those disciplines, but across the social sciences. By putting the role of conservatives at the forefront of analysis, this conference promises to open up substantial new territory in the study of American political development, and will place contemporary conservative politics in a new light.
This conference is being sponsered by the Yale Center for the Study of American Politics