Whit Stillman's 1998 film The Last Days of Disco portrays the misadventures of aimless young people in the early 1980s who engage in meaningless and occasionally misguided behavior and who are slowly transitioning to adult life. For my purposes, "the last days of disco" also refers to the period of the late 1970s and early 1980s when the United States was going through a political transition - between an older, exhausted political regime and a newer one. Near the end of the 1970s, many people believed that the United States of America was thoroughly ungovernable; by 1984, most people did not say that anymore. As Ronald Reagan's 1984 presidential campaign argued, it was "morning in America," and even people who opposed President Reagan's policies understood that the Republic was back up and running again, just not in ways they particularly liked. The last days of disco marked the end of a previous political regime, which had ground into dysfunction, and the end of an older constitutional order - the New Deal/Civil Rights regime. The last days of disco also marked the beginning of a new political regime and a new constitutional order - the conservative regime in which we have been living for the past three decades.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Balkin, Jack M., "THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO: WHY THE AMERICAN POLITICAL SYSTEM IS DYSFUNCTIONAL" (2014). Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 4878.