Left in the Center: The Liberal Party of New York & the Rise & Fall of American Social Democracy

To mark Labor History Month historian Daniel Soyer will discuss his new book. New York has a long history of small political parties that offer voters options beyond a two-party system. But what shapes those parties’ success in electing candidates? In Left in the Center, Soyer traces the dramatic story of the Liberal Party, the longest-lived of New York's small parties, active from 1944 to 2002. Began as a means for anti-Communist social democrats to have an impact on the politics and policy of New York City, Albany, and Washington, DC., the party helped elect politicians at all levels of government, and provided a political voice for labor activists, independent liberals, and social democrats. The practical gains and political cost of that complicated trade-off is at the heart of Left in the Center.

Dr. Daniel Soyer is Professor of History at Fordham University. He is co-author or editor of several books, including The Emerging Metropolis. His research has focused mainly on Eastern European Jewish immigrants to the United States during the mass migration of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, on transnational Jewish politics, and on New York politics in the mid to late 20th century. Dr. Soyer has advised or curated a variety of film and exhibition projects at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, WNET-TV, the Museum of the City of New York, the Center for Jewish History, and elsewhere, and is a member of the academic council of the American Jewish Historical Society.