Most social movements in the 1980s and 1990s were conservative to reactionary, focused on rescinding rights and reestablishing traditions. This did not constitute a clash of civilizations, nor can it be explained fully by neoliberalism.
Intersectional ideas that challenge the rise of the reactionary right that became politically dominant in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East,did so not by falling into sweeping neoliberal critiques imbued with first or second Enlightenment principles or a rejection thereof in the postmodern, anti-political debate.
Post-1989 identity groups, such as the disability rights movement, ask controversial questions in a non-polarizing way. The intent is not to say, “We’re right and they’re wrong,” but to analyze what the questions are and how we might think productively about them.
These questions are not just academic. They serve a public purpose. The longer political thinkers delay in raising uncomfortable questions, the easier it will be for governments, international public and private organizations, and markets to create paths that can no longer be easily diverted by a crisis or a big event. Then it will be much harder to reverse course or even moderate or temper the cultural trajectory. If political thinkers are going to influence where the world is going, they need to start now.
One of the fundamental principles of the series is that no one should assume that an absence of intent is tantamount to an absence of accountability or responsibility. When ideas get separated from their birth parents, it is still important to discover their lineage to protect future generations.
Contemporary American Political Thought, including political communication and public opinion and the intersection between the two, therefore occurs in real time as well as in, over, and across time. Having the race/gender dichotomy dominate political thought from 2008 to 2016 makes identity issues particularly salient.
Political thought can also be contemporary and contingent. This is all to say that ideas have resonance and can be viewed as political and cultural currency. Political Thought is traditionally considered the thought of politicians, pundits, and public intellectuals, as well as ideas floated by domestic and international statesmen and stateswomen (as expressed in speeches and remarks, for instance). Political thought is also exhibited in political culture and can be viewed through the lens of public opinion and political communication.