Longing, nostalgia, and golden age politics

The American jeremiad and the power of the past

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

I assess several politically powerful ways of drawing on the past in the search for solutions to problems in the present. To probe these dynamics, I turn to the American jeremiad, a longstanding form of political rhetoric that explicitly invokes the past and laments the nation's falling-away from its virtuous foundations. I begin by focusing on the Christian Right's traditionalist jeremiad, which offers both nostalgic and Golden Age rhetoric in its assessment of the United States' imperiled national promise. I argue that, despite differences in the historical location of their ideals and the significant rhetorical power that they bring to political life, such nostalgic and Golden Age narratives represent a constraining political ideal, one ultimately incapable of doing justice to an increasingly diverse American society. I argue furthermore that there is another strand of the American jeremiad and conclude by sketching a different way of drawing on the past, a progressive jeremiad epitomized by the thought of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Such a jeremiad is also deeply rooted in the American tradition and offers a far more promising contribution to a diverse and pluralistic American future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-141
Number of pages17
JournalPerspectives on Politics
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009

Fingerprint

nostalgia
rhetoric
politics
justice
narrative
present
Society

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations

Cite this

@article{e2e3433f6acf451d91e15e58f8088641,
title = "Longing, nostalgia, and golden age politics: The American jeremiad and the power of the past",
abstract = "I assess several politically powerful ways of drawing on the past in the search for solutions to problems in the present. To probe these dynamics, I turn to the American jeremiad, a longstanding form of political rhetoric that explicitly invokes the past and laments the nation's falling-away from its virtuous foundations. I begin by focusing on the Christian Right's traditionalist jeremiad, which offers both nostalgic and Golden Age rhetoric in its assessment of the United States' imperiled national promise. I argue that, despite differences in the historical location of their ideals and the significant rhetorical power that they bring to political life, such nostalgic and Golden Age narratives represent a constraining political ideal, one ultimately incapable of doing justice to an increasingly diverse American society. I argue furthermore that there is another strand of the American jeremiad and conclude by sketching a different way of drawing on the past, a progressive jeremiad epitomized by the thought of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Such a jeremiad is also deeply rooted in the American tradition and offers a far more promising contribution to a diverse and pluralistic American future.",
author = "Andrew Murphy",
year = "2009",
month = "3",
day = "1",
doi = "https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592709090148",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "7",
pages = "125--141",
journal = "Perspectives on Politics",
issn = "1537-5927",
publisher = "Cambridge University Press",
number = "1",

}

Longing, nostalgia, and golden age politics : The American jeremiad and the power of the past. / Murphy, Andrew.

In: Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 7, No. 1, 01.03.2009, p. 125-141.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Longing, nostalgia, and golden age politics

T2 - The American jeremiad and the power of the past

AU - Murphy, Andrew

PY - 2009/3/1

Y1 - 2009/3/1

N2 - I assess several politically powerful ways of drawing on the past in the search for solutions to problems in the present. To probe these dynamics, I turn to the American jeremiad, a longstanding form of political rhetoric that explicitly invokes the past and laments the nation's falling-away from its virtuous foundations. I begin by focusing on the Christian Right's traditionalist jeremiad, which offers both nostalgic and Golden Age rhetoric in its assessment of the United States' imperiled national promise. I argue that, despite differences in the historical location of their ideals and the significant rhetorical power that they bring to political life, such nostalgic and Golden Age narratives represent a constraining political ideal, one ultimately incapable of doing justice to an increasingly diverse American society. I argue furthermore that there is another strand of the American jeremiad and conclude by sketching a different way of drawing on the past, a progressive jeremiad epitomized by the thought of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Such a jeremiad is also deeply rooted in the American tradition and offers a far more promising contribution to a diverse and pluralistic American future.

AB - I assess several politically powerful ways of drawing on the past in the search for solutions to problems in the present. To probe these dynamics, I turn to the American jeremiad, a longstanding form of political rhetoric that explicitly invokes the past and laments the nation's falling-away from its virtuous foundations. I begin by focusing on the Christian Right's traditionalist jeremiad, which offers both nostalgic and Golden Age rhetoric in its assessment of the United States' imperiled national promise. I argue that, despite differences in the historical location of their ideals and the significant rhetorical power that they bring to political life, such nostalgic and Golden Age narratives represent a constraining political ideal, one ultimately incapable of doing justice to an increasingly diverse American society. I argue furthermore that there is another strand of the American jeremiad and conclude by sketching a different way of drawing on the past, a progressive jeremiad epitomized by the thought of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Such a jeremiad is also deeply rooted in the American tradition and offers a far more promising contribution to a diverse and pluralistic American future.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=67651002561&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=67651002561&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592709090148

DO - https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592709090148

M3 - Article

VL - 7

SP - 125

EP - 141

JO - Perspectives on Politics

JF - Perspectives on Politics

SN - 1537-5927

IS - 1

ER -