This introductory chapter describes the myth of Massachusetts exceptionalism in the context of suburban liberalism, and provides a brief overview of Massachusetts politics in general, particularly what it means to be a “Massachusetts liberal.” In particular, the chapter states that the suburban liberals in the Route 128 area have stood at the intersection of the political, economic, and spatial reorganizations that occurred in the United States since 1945, but they have been largely left out of the traditional frameworks of twentieth-century political and urban history. Yet the chapter argues that liberal activism in the Route 128 area illuminates several key factors about the nature of suburban politics and the relationship between national developments and the particularities of political patterns in Massachusetts.
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