Politics & Polls #155: The Evolution of Free Enterprise Featuring Lawrence Glickman

Oct 3, 2019
By Brillian Bao
Woodrow Wilson School

Many conservative politicians have used the term “free enterprise” as a rallying cry during the past few elections. Yet, the exact meaning of the phrase is unclear. Where did this idea come from? What did it mean in different time periods? And what are the stakes in how we define it?

Lawrence Glickman joins Julian Zelizer in this episode to discuss these questions, which he addresses in his new book, “Free Enterprise: An American History.” The book examines how the idea of free enterprise has changed over the past few decades, covering its origins in 1832, its growth as an oppositional ideology to the New Deal, and its role in American politics now.

Glickman is the Stephen and Evalyn Professor of American Studies at Cornell University. He has authored four books, including “Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America.” Prior to joining the Cornell faculty in 2014, Glickman was the Carolina Trustee Professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of South Carolina. He has written on public affairs for Boston Review, Dissent, and other publications.


Zelizer has been among the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University and a CNN political analyst. He has written more than 900 op-eds, including his popular weekly column for CNN.com and The Atlantic. This year, he is the distinguished senior fellow at the New York Historical Society, where he is writing a biography of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel for Yale University's Jewish Lives Series. He is the author and editor of more than 19 books including, “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society,” the winner of the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the Best Book on Congress. In January 2019, Norton published his new book, co-authored with Kevin Kruse, “Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974.” In spring 2020, Penguin Press will publish his other book, “Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, The Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party.” He has received fellowships from the Brookings Institution, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation and New America.