From James Piereson's review of The Fractured Republic by Yuval Levin, in the June issue The New Criterion:
Mr. Levin views the post-war era—roughly the period running from 1945 to the year 2000—as following a coherent trajectory that has left us in a situation in which it is impossible to put into place the grand designs of either liberals or conservatives. As he writes, “In our cultural, economic, political, and social life, this has been a trajectory of increasing individualism, diversity, dynamism, and liberalization. And it has come at a cost of dwindling solidarity, cohesion, stability, authority, and social order.” This is what he means by the “fractured” republic. Over the course of these decades, Americans lived through a cultural revolution that promoted greater freedom and liberation from social norms and a market revolution that promoted dynamism and innovation while destroying the private sector unions and corporate oligopolies that dominated economic life from the 1940s to the 1980s. Conservative attempts to restore social consensus and liberal attempts to restore a managed economy are both bound to fail due to the liberating effects of these twin revolutions.
Seems pretty accurate to me. The book sounds worthwhile, although I probably won't read it just because I have so much other reading I want and need to do. A bit more about Levin's assessment of that post-war era:
The main problem...is that Americans across the political spectrum are caught in a “nostalgia trap.” They assess the current situation in terms of social and economic standards that were established in the immediate post-war decades....
As a consequence, the two political parties are exceptionally backward looking, albeit in quite different ways. Republicans and Democrats long to restore different elements of the post-war order. Liberals and Democrats, for example, wish to restore the corporatist economic structure of the 1950s and 1960s, characterized by powerful labor unions negotiating with corporate oligopolies, while also reigniting the spirit of liberation and rebellion that burned during the 1960s. Conservatives, meanwhile, tend to assess the present in relation to recollections of the social stability and shared values of the 1950s and take their economic and political bearings from the 1980s when, under Ronald Reagan’s leadership, they restored the nation’s economic dynamism following the inflation and slow growth of the 1970s while presiding over a military build-up that helped to win the Cold War. Each side looks back to the post-war period as a kind of golden age and seeks to restore a piece of it without acknowledging how far away we have since moved from the conditions of that era.
Perhaps it's just a matter of what I've happened to see and read, but it seems to me that liberal affection for the 1950s is a fairly new thing. I've been accustomed since the late '60s to hearing the '50s vilified as everything from merely conformist to quasi-fascist. But then I've probably been more exposed to the cultural revolutionaries than to old-line liberals.