The Vortex & American Political Thought



Imprint of American Political Thought (weighing how contemporary political thinkers in the United States affect political action with their ideas).  Politicians pass legislation and design public policies that can help or hinder the United States, depending upon one’s political perspective, but what role does political thought play in the construction of  the polity, the society, and the market?

Traditional American Political Thought (measuring rhetoric in terms of speeches delivered, etc., significant court decisions.)  The field of American political thought is dominated by 18th century and 19th century work about the founding fathers or political thinkers from the Federalist Papers written by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison to John Calhoun’s A Disquisition of Government. 

Contemporary American Political Thought  examines the spaces and juxtapositions created by ideas, identity movements and vulnerable populations.

These spaces generally occur along three analytical tracks: 1) Race; 2) Women, Gender, Disability, Sexuality, and Vulnerable Populations; and 3) Class, Religion, American Capitalism, & Hegemony.

To study a track on race involves comparing and contrasting universal civil rights, black power, radical black feminism, and multiculturalism and multiracialism.

Another track can concentrate on the most fluid.  It reviews ideas about gender and sexuality first- and third-wave feminism, queer theory, post-modernist feminism, theories of the body, and immigrant and vulnerable populations.

To understand both tracks, however, power inequities must be taken into account.  These inequities are for instance found in 21st American capitalism (anti-imperialism and post-colonialism, post-war neoclassical economics or neo-liberalism, and behavioral economics), transnationalism, neotribalism, and other forms of cultural hegemony.

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About Ruth O'Brien

Professor Ruth O'Brien, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY) & Honorary Unaffiliated Academic Book Series Editor for The Public Square, Princeton University Press & Heretical Thought, Oxford University Press, USA Last book: Out of Many, One: Obama & the Third American Political Tradition (U of Chicago 2013). Nickname: Professorette by Rush Limbaugh (see

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