According to Lizabeth Cohen’s book A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America, politics in the United States since the end of World War II has been driven by the idea that it is, not only the right, but also the duty of American citizens to acquire and consume as many goods as possible.  After World War II, Americans had unprecedented ability to purchase new homes, automobiles, household appliances, and a myriad of other items that were becoming available in the booming postwar economy.  The acquisition of these things came to be how Americans defined success in the second half of the 20th century.  American politics both encouraged this concept of consumerism and was itself reshaped by it.

            Consumerism after World War II had a profound impact on American society and American politics in several important ways.  First, the acquisition of material goods gave Americans a clear and easily measurable way to identify how successful they were and a barometer to compare their success to others.  Second, the marketing of particular items to the segment of society that those consumer goods were intended for created separate and distinct sub-groups in American society that could be identified by the goods they acquired.  Finally, the idea of consumerism became so ingrained in American society that Americans began to think of it as their right and as something the government needed to guarantee.  This new notion of consumption had both positive and negative effects on American society.  However, what cannot be argued is the dramatic role consumerism played in reshaping politics in the United States after World War II.

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