Research Project

The Reagan administration is widely acknowledged as bringing about the official end of the New Deal Era and starting an anti-government movement in the United States. This generally accepted claim is a simplification of the ever-competing pro- and anti-statism ideologies that exist in very clear opposition to one another in the United States. Statism is the belief in the authority of the state, and those that identify as pro-state would advocate for the involvement of the state in social and economic affairs, while those who are anti-state would advocate for as little involvement as possible by the state. As the head of state, the president has immense power to influence both sides of statist sentiment, as demonstrated clearly in a number of different presidential administrations. The United States supposed anti-statism has been attributed to a number of factors by researchers, including an underlying liberal philosophy, race relations, and fundamental government structure. But how can we know for sure? All of this begs the following questions: what does pro- and anti-statist presidential rhetoric look like and how does it change over time? By answering these questions, we may be able to pinpoint the exact time in American history that anti-statist fervor grew, the impact that presidents themselves have on such sentiment, and whether anti-statism is ingrained in American political culture or if our leaders have been peddling such beliefs.