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The IndustrialistsHow the National Association of Manufacturers Shaped American Capitalism$
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Jennifer A. Delton

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691167862

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691167862.001.0001

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Nadir: The Reagan Era

Nadir: The Reagan Era

(p.265) 11 Nadir: The Reagan Era
The Industrialists

Jennifer A. Delton

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) during the 1980s. While Ronald Reagan's attacks on unions were ideologically satisfying, by this time NAM's principal battle was no longer against labor, which had lost its bargaining power. Indeed, the NAM of the 1980s had much in common with its historical enemy as both sought to shore up “old” industries against new import-dependent retailers (like Wal-Mart) and non-unionized high-tech industries. NAM and labor still skirmished, of course. But it is worth considering their common plight in the Reagan Era. Both had been losing both members and politicel clout. Both were part of the old “smokestack” industrial economy. And both were slowly being abandoned by the parties that had once fought their battles in Washington. Just as a new breed of Democrats were ignoring the demands of a shrinking union constituency, so too were Reagan Republicans less than thrilled about saving manufacturing. Once at the forefront of shaping industrial capitalism, NAM and its union foes were now struggling to survive in a post-industrial economy.

Keywords:   Reagan era, Ronald Reagan, import-dependent retailers, non-unionized industries, high-tech industries, industrial economy, post-industrial economy, industrial capitalism

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