The Rise of Bully Politics

On this episode of Now & Then, “The Rise of Bully Politics,” Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman revisit the 1980 presidential election between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. They reflect on how the rancorous contest signaled a rise in partisan aggression and dominance politics in American life. They also tie the type of bullying that emerged in full force in 1980 back to the 1850s and the violence that preceded the Civil War. How did Reagan’s extreme comments during the campaign hearken back to this earlier age of bluster and polarization? How did Reagan’s tone signal a change in the Republican Party and its tactics?

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