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Powell's Books Presents Marc C. Johnson in Conversation With Steve Duin
While political history has plenty to say about the impact of Ronald Reagan’s election to the presidency in 1980, four Senate races that same year have garnered far less attention — despite their similarly profound political effect. Marc C. Johnson’s new book, Tuesday Night Massacre (University of Oklahoma Press), looks at those races. In examining the defeat in 1980 of Idaho’s Frank Church, South Dakota’s George McGovern, John Culver of Iowa, and Birch Bayh of Indiana, Johnson tells the story of the beginnings of the divisive partisanship that has become a constant feature of American politics. The turnover of these seats not only allowed Republicans to gain control of the Senate for the first time since 1954, but also fundamentally altered the conduct of American politics. The incumbents were politicians of national reputation who often worked with members of the other party to accomplish significant legislative objectives — but they were, Johnson suggests, unprepared and ill-equipped to counter nakedly negative emotional appeals to the “politically passive voter.” Connecting the dots between the Goldwater era of the 1960s and the ascent of Trump, Tuesday Night Massacre charts the radicalization of the Republican Party and the rise of the independent expenditure campaign, with its divisive, negative techniques, a change that has deeply — and perhaps permanently — warped the culture of bipartisanship that once prevailed in American politics. Johnson will be joined in conversation by Steve Duin, The Oregonian's Metro columnist.

Mar 2, 2021 05:00 PM in Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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Marc C. Johnson
Marc C. Johnson has worked as a broadcast journalist and communication and crisis management consultant and served as a top aide to Idaho’s longest-serving governor, Cecil D. Andrus. His latest book - Tuesday Night Massacre: Four Senate Elections and the Radicalization of the Republican Party – explores how independent expenditure campaigns helped upend American politics after 1980. His biography of New Deal-era Montana Senator Burton K. Wheeler was named a Spur Award finalist in 2020 by the Western Writers of America. Johnson’s writing on politics and history has been published in the New York Times, California Journal of Politics and Policy, and Montana The Magazine of Western History and appears regularly on the blog Many Things Considered.
Steve Duin
Steve Duin is the long-time Metro columnist for The Oregonian and the author of eight books, most recently "The Mueller Report Graphic Novel," released by IDW in September 2000. Duin retired from The Oregonian/OregonLive in 2015 but continues to write two Sunday columns each month.