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The end of the imperial presidency

The frantic swings in American political life over the past five years have perplexed the world. Martin Walker sees them as symptoms of a bigger shift in the balance of power following the end of the cold war

By Martin Walker   November 1995

The Republican ascendancy in US politics has been hailed by supporters at home and abroad as an historic shift that will fulfil Speaker Newt Gingrich’s promise “to replace the welfare state with the conservative opportunity society.” Less than three years earlier the electoral victory of Bill Clinton, defeating an incumbent president and installing the first Democrat in the White House for 12 years, was hailed as a similarly historic success for a revitalised Democratic party, invigorated by a modernised concept of American social democracy.

The Zeitgeist, or at least the fashionable interpretation of deeper political currents, can change fast in…

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