Jeff Bloodworth, Ph.D., is best known as the professor with the bowtie and the director of the history department at Gannon University. Soon, the rest of the America will get to meet the man behind the bowtie, too, after C-SPAN interviewed him Friday.
It wasn’t his bowtie, however, that attracted the national network to Bloodworth. His recently published book, “Losing the Center: The Decline of American Liberalism, 1968–1992,” was the topic of conversation in Friday’s interview.
Bloodworth’s book discusses the impact liberals have had on American liberalism, starting from grassroots activists and continuing all the way to the White House. It asks – and answers – the question, “Why do liberals always lose?”
The book was nominated for two awards – the Frederick Jackson Turner Award, for an author’s first book on American history, and the the Ellis W. Hawley Prize, awarded for the best historical study of the political economy, politics or institutions of the United States. Both honors are given by the Organization of American Historians.
Bloodworth addressed how big issues like the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War undermined American liberalism, indicating that a lot of the damage that liberalism sustained was done by liberals themselves. He argues that since the damage was self-inflicted, rather than the result of conservative undermining, it can be fixed.
Christy Hinton, C-SPAN’s video journalist and producer, said she came across Bloodworth’s book while conducting research about books written by professors in Erie for the C-SPAN Cities Tour.
She said the network looks for books that address legislation or political policy, and Bloodworth’s book met both criteria.
“Another thing at C-SPAN is that we try to get all views and all opinions on those views to put forth the most information that we can for the public,” Hinton said.
Bloodworth started writing the book January 2005, when he lived in Ohio. It was inspired after Ohio’s electoral votes helped George W. Bush win his second term as president.
“It was written in a fit of anger and rage that you can have such a lousy president who waged such an incompetent war and run on a completely bigoted platform – because he ran against gay marriage – and still somehow win,” Bloodworth said. “So I was furious. And I think you can tell that in the book that, ‘Wow, disastrous war, bigoted policies, and yet he somehow wins.’”
Hinton said her interview with Bloodworth added to her knowledge about American politics. She said she particularly enjoyed learning about the effect of liberalism on American presidents and their terms in office.
“The stories he told were excellent,” she said. “I like his overview of different political parties and how they have affected American politics.”
Becky Perry, a visiting instructor at the history department and a former student of Bloodworth’s, said it was great seeing Bloodworth move forward professionally in his career.
“He’s clearly passionate about what he does and it’s great to see that passion translate into success,” she said. “It’s always nice to see faculty being able to pursue any professional development outside of the classroom.”
From Washington to Georgia, Bloodworth traveled across more than 15 states to conduct research for “Losing the Center.” He went to more than 40 archives and five presidential libraries.
The last draft was finished in January. The book is available on Amazon for $45.
C-SPAN will air the interview Oct. 19 and Oct. 20.