Ronald Reagan is often regarded as a champion of modern American conservatism, but the former president didn’t always hold these political beliefs. Reagan actually grew up in a New Deal family and voiced his support for the Democratic Party well into the 1950s. So how did he come to be such a prominent figure in the Republican Party?
In this week’s episode, Robert Mann joins Julian Zelizer to discuss Ronald Reagan’s political origins and transformation from a Democrat to a Republican, the subject of Mann’s book, “Becoming Ronald Reagan: The Rise of a Conservative Icon.” Mann discusses Reagan’s political philosophies as they changed in the face of communism and the aftermath of the Vietnam War.
Mann holds the Manship Chair in Journalism at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. He has authored several works, including “Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater and the Ad that Changed American Politics” and “The Walls of Jericho: Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Richard Russell and the Struggle for Civil Rights.” Mann also has penned op-eds and book reviews in such publications as The New York Times, the Boston Globe, Smithsonian, Politico, Vox, and Salon.
ABOUT THE HOSTS
Wang is a professor at Princeton University, appointed in neuroscience with affiliate appointments in the Program in Law and Public Affairs and the Center for Information Technology Policy. An alumnus of Caltech, where he received a B.S. with honors in physics, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Stanford University School of Medicine. He conducted postdoctoral research at Duke University Medical Center and at Bell Labs Lucent Technologies. He has also worked on science and education policy for the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. He is noted for his application of data analytics and poll aggregation to American politics. He is leading an effort at the Princeton Gerrymandering Project to build a 50-state data resource for legislative-quality citizen redistricting. His work to define a state-level legal theory to limit partisan gerrymandering recently won Common Cause’s Gerrymandering Standard Writing Contest. His neuroscience research concerns how the brain learns from sensory experience in early life, adulthood and autism.
Zelizer has been among the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University and a CNN political analyst. He has written more than 900 op-eds, including his popular weekly column for CNN.com and The Atlantic. This year, he is the distinguished senior fellow at the New York Historical Society, where he is writing a biography of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel for Yale University's Jewish Lives Series. He is the author and editor of more than 19 books including, “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society,” the winner of the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the Best Book on Congress. In January 2019, Norton published his new book, co-authored with Kevin Kruse, “Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974.” In spring 2020, Penguin Press will publish his other book, “Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, The Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party.” He has received fellowships from the Brookings Institution, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation and New America.