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Whistling Dixie: Ronald Reagan, the White South, and the Transformation of the Republican Party

Bartho, Jonathan Peter; (2021) Whistling Dixie: Ronald Reagan, the White South, and the Transformation of the Republican Party. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis explores the political relationship between Ronald Reagan and the white conservative South. It was a relationship that had a profound impact on Reagan’s own career, on the political landscape of both the South and the US, and on the identity of the modern Republican Party. Millions of southerners were attracted to the GOP by Reagan’s anti-statist ideology and by affection for the man himself – an affection that had been built over decades of appearances in the region. As this thesis demonstrates, the support of white southern conservatives was crucial to Reagan’s political success, ultimately propelling him to the White House in 1980. Conversely, by supporting Reagan’s presidential campaigns, southern conservatives were able to influence the direction of the Republican Party and begin restoring their region to a position of power in Washington. Reagan’s personal popularity in the white South masked a significant divergence between Reaganite conservatism and southern conservatism. During an era when Reaganism appeared to be ascendant in the party, the GOP was, in fact, an awkward and often fractious coalition of two distinct strands of conservatism. The southern conservative agenda was often significantly different – particularly when it came to economics, trade, and social issues – to that of Reaganite conservatism. In the years since, this divergence has largely been overshadowed by the mythology that has surrounded the Reagan era. Nonetheless, it has had a dramatic impact on the Republican Party. Having been drawn to the party by Ronald Reagan, millions of white southerners formed a new Republican base characterised by economic populism and reactionary cultural conservatism. They would go on to transform the identity of the GOP during the early 21st century.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Whistling Dixie: Ronald Reagan, the White South, and the Transformation of the Republican Party
Event: UCL
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of the Americas
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10127903
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