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David Farber traces the history of modern conservatism from its revolt against New Deal liberalism, to its breathtaking resurgence under Ronald Reagan, to its spectacular defeat with the election of Barack Obama. Farber paints vivid portraits of Robert Taft, William F.

Introduction: What Happened to Conservatism in the s? | SpringerLink

Buckley Jr. He shows how. Farber, David R. Princeton Princeton University Press Add Tag No Tags, Be the first to tag this record!

The Decline of Movement Conservatism and the Rise of the Alt-Right

Christian morality, clearly, did not go so far as to recognise injustice in one's own backyard. The Federal government had no right to determine what states could legislate, and this belief remained solid, even it meant condoning racism or, better said, never addressing racism directly.


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The author is also good at linking the outlook of these six individuals with broader tides washing up through US society, and how the two would connect. Farber chronicles how various religious demagogues and anti-communist ranters plied their trade through the s and s, giving an idea of how they linked, via these seminal figures, with the national political scene.

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The role of business is a constant active interest group in this narrative, from Taft's original backers in the anti-New Deal American Liberty League through to the Coors-funded Mountain States Legal Foundation that supported Schlafly. The publishing house Henry Regnery Company also makes several appearances as an important conservative platform. Buckley's most lasting creation, the Young Americans for Freedom, mobilised for Goldwater's presidential bid in , and his National Review benefactor, textile boss Roger Milliken, backed it as well. When Goldwater was pummelled at the polls in , the last hurrah of the New Deal coalition, it was Schlafly who kept the light burning, first in the National Federation of Republican Women and then, in the s, in her remarkable and successful campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment.

It was an unnecessary and opportunist slap on the back for white racism, and fortunately Reagan never ventured that low for votes again.

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Significantly, it was taxation that turned Reagan to the Right more than anything, with religion and anti-communism only later adding to his particular conservative mix. And by the Christian Right was a formidable electoral force, something that Reagan was able to capitalise on.

In the beginning opposed to too much involvement abroad, Bush ended with two major wars on his hands, coupled with two failing attempts at large-scale nation-building. A free market tax cutter to the core, Bush saw the US economy nose-dive in due to a desperate lack of regulation. Farber emphasises the impact of faith as the basis of the Bush world-view, more so than on that of Reagan, but he is less good on the rise of neoconservatism, giving it no more than a paragraph Whereas the chapters on Taft, Buckley, Goldwater, and Schlafly did not have to deal with policy-making, those with Reagan and Bush do, and this makes it difficult for the author to cover a lot of ground in order to assess not only the standpoint of his subjects but also their policy record.

Nevertheless the book remains readable throughout. What we see now is no more than a destructive politics of opposition, an unwillingness to compromise on anything because compromise is weak. This is a far cry from the origins of the movement under Taft.


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Whether the disparate positions of the Tea Party and the Republican Right develop into something coherent and constructive remains to be seen. This text is under a Creative Commons license : Attribution-Noncommercial 2. European journal of American studies.