Sunbelt Studies

Published by: University Press of Florida

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Conservative Bias

How Jesse Helms Pioneered the Rise of Right-Wing Media and Realigned the Republican Party

Bryan H. Thrift

Before Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck, there was Jesse Helms. From in front of a camera at WRAL-TV, Helms forged a new brand of southern conservatism long before he was a senator from North Carolina. As executive vice president of the station, Helms delivered commentaries on the evening news and directed the news and entertainment programming. He pioneered the attack on the liberal media, and his editorials were some of the first shots fired in the culture wars, criticizing the influence of "immoral entertainment." Through the emerging power of the household television Helms established a blueprint and laid the foundation for the modern conservative movement.

Bryan Thrift mines over 2,700 WRAL-TV "Viewpoint" editorials broadcast between 1960 and 1972 to offer not only a portrait of a skilled rhetorician and wordsmith but also a lens on the way the various, and at times competing, elements of modern American conservatism cohered into an ideology couched in the language of anti-elitism and "traditional values." Decades prior to the invention of the blog, Helms corresponded with his viewers to select, refine, and sharpen his political message until he had reworked southern traditionalism into a national conservative movement. The realignment of southern Democrats into the Republican Party was not easy or inevitable, and by examining Helms's oft-forgotten journalism career, Thrift shows how delicately and deliberately this transition had to be cultivated.

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From Sun Cities to the Villages

A History of Active Adult, Age-restricted Communities

Judith Ann Trolander

Youngtown, Arizona, opened in 1954 and was the first development community to have a minimum age requirement (then 65) and to ban underage children as permanent residents. Developer Del Webb unveiled Sun City six years later. Adjacent to Youngtown, it offered modest homes abutting a golf course. In the ensuing decades, active adult communities have proliferated, including Harold Schwartz’s "The Villages" in central Florida, today the nation’s single largest retirement community.

For nearly sixty years, the success of these and similar communities have changed the image of retirees from frail, impoverished old people to energetic, well-off adults enjoying a resort-like lifestyle. While some experts predicted these communities would fail or undermine the obligations between generations, they are now firmly embedded as one possible extension of the American dream.

Judith Ann Trolander has written the first book-length history of the "active adult" lifestyle. Examining the origins, development, failures, and challenges facing these communities as the baby boomer population continues to age, she offers a truly original defense of a sometimes controversial aspect of American life.

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