Teaching makes one feel very old, very quickly. You make a movie or literary allusion and your students stare at you blankly because A Man for All Seasons won all those Oscars decades before they were born. University students know only a world in which women are the majority and make up half the students in law schools and many other professional schools. The idea that women were treated as less than second class citizens is inconceivable to our students.
Tom Frank, the author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, (who has a doctorate in history) writes about how most Democratic Party leaders turned their back decades ago on organized labor. Frank routinely asks progressives what they think about labor unions – and he tells me that the answers are overwhelmingly negative in terms of immediate responses. Eventually, the progressives mention the vital role that unions once played, but that is an intellectual response about a bygone era.