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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

Republicans Controlled 1920s America But Were Later Crushed By the New Deal Coalition. How Do These Realignments Happen?

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The pendulum in American electoral politics never swung harder than the 1920s to 1930s. In the 1924 presidential election, Democrats lost every state outside the Jim Crow south and barely scraped together 25 percent of the popular vote. In less than 10 years, they built the New Deal Coalition, a tremendously powerful political force that included everyone from the KKK on one side to black communists on the other, with Great Plains populists, backcountry Jacksonians and multilingual urbanites in between. How do electoral coalitions that seem timeless breakdown and reform in the blink of an eye, and what can that tell us about our current political coalitions?

To discuss how political realignment happens is today’s guest Timothy Shenk, author of the book Realigners. In a history that runs from the drafting of the Constitution to 2022, Shenk discusses characters from James Madison and Charles Sumner to Phyllis Schlafly and Barack Obama. The result is a provocative reassessment of the people who built the electoral coalitions that defined American democracy―and a guide for a time when figures ranging from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to MAGA-minded nationalists seek to turn radical dreams into political realities.
December 01, 2022
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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