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A Nation of NeighborhoodsImagining Cities, Communities, and Democracy in Postwar America$
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Benjamin Looker

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226073989

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226290454.001.0001

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Local Spaces and White House Races

Local Spaces and White House Races

Urban Communities and Presidential Politics

(p.309) Eleven Local Spaces and White House Races
A Nation of Neighborhoods

Benjamin Looker

University of Chicago Press

By the mid- and late 1970s, the symbols and themes emerging from the decade's neighborhoods movement had powerfully infused national electoral politics. Chapter 11 explores the uses of neighborhood imagery in two presidential elections. In 1976, both major parties responded to a cresting neighborhoods movement by adopting a rhetoric of localism, self-sufficiency, decentralization, and communalism. However, strategists for Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford came to define the city neighborhood's identity primarily with reference to mythologies of European immigration, religiosity, and self-help. This contest laid the groundwork for the Ronald Reagan campaign of 1980, in which the conservative insurgent would court disaffected blue-collar whites by trumpeting the virtues of neighborhood integrity as an alternative to state intervention. As Democratic leaders ceded the language of neighborhood to the right, this chapter suggests, the allure of the neighborhood as haven from outside intrusion temporarily swept competing visions from the national political stage.

Keywords:   presidential, campaign, 1976 election, 1980 election, neighborhood, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan

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