The ‘Reverse Sequence’ in Civil Liberties

Wildavsky, Aaron. "The 'Reverse Sequence' in Civil Liberties" Public Interest, Winter 1985.

A number of years I belonged to the American Civil Liberties Union. To me this membership was part of a commitment to perfecting American democracy. I became a political scientist for the same reason. The two commitments, American patriotism and democratic values, went together. By improving the one—the procedures for participation in political life through protection of individual liberty—the other, America as a force for freedom at home and in the world, would also be enhanced.  The combination of a strong national defense, social welfare programs, and civil liberties, as exemplified in the 1940s and 1950s by the New York State Liberal Party (in whose youth division I was active) seemed mutually reinforcing. But that combination, however comforting it seemed in the Eisenhower years, was not to last long.

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