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42Inside the Presidency of Bill Clinton$
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Michael Nelson, Barbara A. Perry, and Russell L. Riley

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780801454066

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801454066.001.0001

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Clinton’s Legacy for Politics and Government

Clinton’s Legacy for Politics and Government

(p.234) Conclusion Clinton’s Legacy for Politics and Government

Sidney M. Milkis

Cornell University Press

This concluding chapter argues that Clinton’s passion for reconciliation failed. Indeed, Bill Clinton’s third-way politics was the midwife of the contemporary state of strong partisanship and weak parties. The wayward path of new democracy reveals how the third way can all too easily degenerate into a plebiscitary form of democracy in which citizens directly invest their support in an individual leader, then all too often withdraw it. Just as surely, Clinton’s tainted success sheds light on the love–hate relationship that Americans have formed with the national state forged by the New Deal and the Great Society. Rather than healing this breach, Clinton’s third way left the American people in a profound state of uneasy ambivalence.

Keywords:   third-way politics, partisanship, new democracy, Bill Clinton, New Deal, Great Society, Clinton administration

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