Foreword Review — Spring 2012
For those perplexed by how American politics are so profoundly manipulated by Moral-Majority types, historian Nancy L. Cohen’s latest book has many of the answers. Well-researched and coolly incisive on the hot-button social issues—gay and women’s rights, abortion, and health care—Cohen’s book gives readers a meticulously detailed inside look at the two major American political parties, their key players, and the influences that have fueled the sexual counterrevolution for the better part of the last forty years. And, for those who feel asphyxiated by the current state of affairs, substantial evidence proves the grip of the counterrevolutionaries is much like that of a dominatrix—an unrealistic construct from which Americans and its politicians can be released, if they so choose.
In Delirium, Cohen aligns herself with the Democratic Party, and deems it the more socially progressive group. However, even with her bias she does provide substantial insight into how the party and its members have evolved into this position, pointing out many of the Democrats’ social and political missteps, some of its non-social progressives, the party’s infighting and self-defeating tactics, as well as those who bowed to pressure from counterrevolutionaries, both for personal and political reasons. With reference to the Democrats, she cites instances where politicians have been elected without “giving in” (Clinton and Obama). Alternating with this narrative is Cohen’s revelation about how the Republican Party and its members have not always been beholden to the moralists, and that within their ranks there were—and are still—those who did not immediately cave in and follow the Christian Right or engage in political flip-flopping in order to be on the right side of issues at the right time.
While Delirium comprehensively demonstrates how what happens “behind the scenes” with special interest groups compels candidates, politicians, and parties to pander to a relative minority of the population and their ideals, it also sheds light (perhaps unintentionally) on the need for America’s social progressivism to move beyond the conventional methods which have produced this present “delirium.”
Delirium is a thorough and provocative read for those concerned about crusade by Moral-Majority types, or who want an inside perspective of American electoral politicking after the civil rights era (fade to Engelbert Humperdinck singing “Please Release Me”).