American evangelicalism often appears as a politically monolithic, textbook red-state fundamentalism that elected George W. Bush, opposes gay marriage, abortion, and evolution, and promotes apathy about global warming. Prominent public figures hold forth on these topics, speaking with great authority for millions of followers. Authors Stephens and Giberson, with roots in the evangelical tradition, argue that this popular impression understates the diversity within evangelicalism—an often insular world where serious disagreements are invisible to secular and religiously liberal media consumers. Yet, in the face of this diversity, why do so many people follow leaders with dubious credentials when they have other options? Why do tens of millions of Americans prefer to get their science from Ken Ham, founder of the creationist Answers in Genesis, who has no scientific expertise, rather than from his fellow evangelical Francis Collins, current Director of the National Institutes of Health?
Exploring intellectual authority within evangelicalism, the authors reveal how America’s populist ideals, anti-intellectualism, and religious free market, along with the concept of anointing—being chosen by God to speak for him like the biblical prophets—established a conservative evangelical leadership isolated from the world of secular arts and sciences.
Today, charismatic and media-savvy creationists, historians, psychologists, and biblical exegetes continue to receive more funding and airtime than their more qualified counterparts. Though a growing minority of evangelicals engage with contemporary scholarship, the community’s authority structure still encourages the “anointed” to assume positions of leadership.
In The Antigay Agenda, Didi Herman probes the values, beliefs, and rhetoric of the organizations of the Christian Right. Tracing the emergence of their antigay agenda, Herman explores how and why these groups made antigay activity a top priority, and how it relates to their political history.
"A penetrating analysis of the Christian Right's antigay agenda and of how that agenda is derived from the Christian Right's peculiar vision of American history and the Christian faith."—Rev. Peter J. Gomes, Boston Book Review
"Public intellectualism at its best. . . . A comprehensive summary of the conservative Protestant worldview."—Michael Joseph Gross, Boston Phoenix Literary Section
"Presents considerable information not previously part of the nation's political discourse. . . . [Herman] dissects the Christian Right's antigay stance dispassionately giving, as it were, the devil his due. For anyone on either side of this passionate and important conflict, that is an impressive accomplishment."—Hastings Wyman, Jr., Washington Post Book World
After Japanese bombs hit Pearl Harbor, the American right stood at a crossroads. Generally isolationist, conservatives needed to forge their own foreign policy agenda if they wanted to remain politically viable. When Mao Zedong established the People’s Republic of China in 1949—with the Cold War just underway—they had a new object of foreign policy, and as Joyce Mao reveals in this fascinating new look at twentieth-century Pacific affairs, that change would provide vital ingredients for American conservatism as we know it today.
Mao explores the deep resonance American conservatives felt with the defeat of Chiang Kai-Shek and his exile to Taiwan, which they lamented as the loss of China to communism and the corrosion of traditional values. In response, they fomented aggressive anti-communist positions that urged greater action in the Pacific, a policy known as “Asia First.” While this policy would do nothing to oust the communists from China, it was powerfully effective at home. Asia First provided American conservatives a set of ideals—American sovereignty, selective military intervention, strident anti-communism, and the promotion of a technological defense state—that would bring them into the global era with the positions that are now their hallmark.
Nearly four million Americans worked on Barry Goldwater’s behalf in the presidential election of 1964. These citizens were as dedicated to their cause as those who fought for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. Arguably, the conservative agenda that began with Goldwater has had effects on American politics and society as profound and far reaching as the liberalism of the 1960s. According to the essays in this volume, it’s high time for a reconsideration of Barry Goldwater’s legacy.
Since Goldwater’s death in 1998, politicians, pundits, and academics have been assessing his achievements and his shortcomings. The twelve essays in this volume thoroughly examine the life, times, and impact of “Mr. Conservative.” Scrutinizing the transformation of a Phoenix department store owner into a politician, de facto political philosopher, and five-time US senator, contributors highlight the importance of power, showcasing the relationship between the nascent conservative movement’s cadre of elite businessmen, newsmen, and intellectuals and their followers at the grassroots—or sagebrush—level.
Goldwater, who was born in the Arizona Territory in 1909, was deeply influenced by his Western upbringing. With his appearance on the national stage in 1964, he not only articulated a new brand of conservatism but gave a voice to many Americans who were not enamored with the social and political changes of the era. He may have lost the battle for the presidency, but he energized a coalition of journalists, publishers, women’s groups, and Southerners to band together in a movement that reshaped the nation.
Between Jesus and the Market looks at the appeal of the Christian right-wing movement in contemporary American politics and culture. In her discussions of books and videotapes that are widely distributed by the Christian right but little known by mainstream Americans, Linda Kintz makes explicit the crucial need to understand the psychological makeup of born-again Christians as well as the sociopolitical dynamics involved in their cause. She focuses on the role of religious women in right-wing Christianity and asks, for example, why so many women are attracted to what is often seen as an antiwoman philosophy. The result, a telling analysis of the complexity and appeal of the "emotions that matter" to many Americans, highlights how these emotions now determine public policy in ways that are increasingly dangerous for those outside familiarity’s circle. With texts from such organizations as the Christian Coalition, the Heritage Foundation, and Concerned Women for America, and writings by Elizabeth Dole, Newt Gingrich, Pat Robertson, and Rush Limbaugh, Kintz traces the usefulness of this activism for the secular claim that conservative political economy is, in fact, simply an expression of the deepest and most admirable elements of human nature itself. The discussion of Limbaugh shows how he draws on the skepticism of contemporary culture to create a sense of absolute truth within his own media performance—its truth guaranteed by the market. Kintz also describes how conservative interpretations of the Holy Scriptures, the U.S. Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence have been used to challenge causes such as feminism, women’s reproductive rights, and gay and lesbian rights. In addition to critiquing the intellectual and political left for underestimating the power of right-wing grassroots organizing, corporate interests, and postmodern media sophistication, Between Jesus and the Market discusses the proliferation of militia groups, Christian entrepreneurship, and the explosive growth and "selling" of the Promise Keepers.
The mid-Seventies represented a watershed era for feminism. A historic National Women's Conference convened in Houston in 1977. The Equal Rights Amendment inched toward passage. Conservative women in the Midwest, however, saw an event like the International Year of the Woman not as a celebration, but as part of a conspiracy that would lead to radicalism and one-world government. Erin M. Kempker delves into how conspiracy theories affected--and undermined--second wave feminism in the Midwest. Focusing on Indiana, Kempker views this phenomenon within the larger history of right-wing fears of subversion during the Cold War. Feminists and conservative women each believed they spoke in women's best interests. Though baffled by the conservative dread of "collectivism," feminists compromised by trimming radicals from their ranks. Conservative women, meanwhile, proved adept at applying old fears to new targets. Kemper's analysis places the women's opposing viewpoints side by side to unlock the differences that separated the groups, explain one to the other, and reveal feminism's fate in the Midwest.
The term "conservative," when employed today in reference to politicians and beliefs, can denote groups as diverse and incompatible as the religious right, libertarians, and opponents of large, centralized government. Yet the original conservative philosophy, first developed in the eighteenth century by Edmund Burke, was most concerned with managing change. This kind of genuine conservatism has a renewed relevance in a complex world where change is rapid, pervasive, and dislocating.
In Conservatism, Kieron O’Hara presents a thought-provoking revision of the traditional conservative philosophy, here crafted for the modern age. As O’Hara argues, conservatism transcends traditional politics and has surprising applications—not least as the most appropriate and practical response to climate change. He shows what a properly conservative ideology looks like today, and draws on such great conservative thinkers as Burke and Adam Smith, philosophers from Plato to Wittgenstein, and contemporary social commentators such as Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Ulrich Beck, and Jared Diamond, in order to outline how conservative philosophy lays bare our failure to understand our own society. O’Hara proves as well that conservatism is distinct from neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism, and the extreme positions of many of today’s most outspoken commentators.
In this comprehensive and detailed description of a philosophy of change and innovation, O’Hara shows how conservatism can be an ideology sensitive to cultural differences among the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere. As well, he highlights key issues of technology, trust, and privacy. Conservatism is a provocative read and a level-headed guide to cutting through the many voices of policy makers and pundits claiming to represent conservative points of view.
In Conservatism and Southern Intellectuals, 1789–1861, Adam L. Tate discusses the nature of southern conservative thought between 1789 and 1861 by examining six conservatives whose lives and careers spanned the antebellum period: John Randolph of Roanoke, John Taylor of Caroline, Nathaniel Beverly Tucker, William Gilmore Simms, Joseph Glover Baldwin, and Johnson Jones Hooper. Tate contends that southern conservatism derived its distinctive characteristics from its acceptance of aspects of John Locke’s political theory as it was articulated during the American Revolution.
Locke argued that the state and society were two entities that could be reformed and manipulated by men. Showing that most southern conservative intellectuals accepted Locke’s premise regarding separation of state and society, Tate examines both the political views and social vision of the six conservatives surveyed. He pays special attention to how these conservatives dealt with states’ rights, republicanism, slavery, sectionalism, and religion, as well as western expansion and migration.
Tate maintains that while southern conservatives forged a common political tradition based on Old Republican interpretations of the Constitution, they did not create a unified tradition of social thought. Even though most of them desired a cohesive southern intellectual movement, as well as a homogenous southern culture, their disagreements over the good society prevented them from creating a common southern social vision to accompany their states’ rights political tradition.
In the 1950s, Milwaukee's strong union movement and socialist mayor seemed to embody a dominant liberal consensus that sought to continue and expand the New Deal. Tula Connell explores how business interests and political conservatives arose to undo that consensus, and how the resulting clash both shaped a city and helped redefine postwar American politics. Connell focuses on Frank Zeidler, the city's socialist mayor. Zeidler's broad concept of the public interest at times defied even liberal expectations. At the same time, a resurgence of conservatism with roots presaging twentieth-century politics challenged his initiatives in public housing, integration, and other areas. As Connell shows, conservatives created an anti-progressive game plan that included a well-funded media and PR push; an anti-union assault essential to the larger project of delegitimizing any government action; opposition to civil rights; and support from a suburban silent majority. In the end, the campaign undermined notions of the common good essential to the New Deal order. It also sowed the seeds for grassroots conservatism's more extreme and far-reaching future success.
As American politics has become increasingly polarized, gridlock at the federal level has led to a greater reliance on state governments to get things done. But this arrangement depends a great deal on state cooperation, and not all state officials have chosen to cooperate. Some have opted for conflict with the federal government.
Conservative Innovators traces the activity of far-right conservatives in Kansas who have in the past decade used the powers of state-level offices to fight federal regulation on a range of topics from gun control to voting processes to Medicaid. Telling their story, Ben Merriman then expands the scope of the book to look at the tactics used by conservative state governments across the country to resist federal regulations, including coordinated lawsuits by state attorneys general, refusals to accept federal funds and spending mandates, and the creation of programs designed to restrict voting rights. Through this combination of state-initiated lawsuits and new administrative practices, these state officials weakened or halted major parts of the Obama Administration’s healthcare, environmental protection, and immigration agendas and eroded federal voting rights protections. Conservative Innovators argues that American federalism is entering a new, conflict-ridden era that will make state governments more important in American life than they have been at any time in the past century.
First published in 1976, and revised in 1996, George H. Nash’s celebrated history of the postwar conservative intellectual movement has become the unquestioned standard in the field. This new edition, published in commemoration of the volume’s thirtieth anniversary, includes a new preface by Nash and will continue to instruct anyone interested in how today’s conservative movement was born.
In this revised and updated edition of what Insight magazine recently called "the standard work" on the history of post-World War II American Conservatism, Nash shows how a diverse group of men became an effective intellectual force in American life.
What They're Saying...
"The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America, since 1945 remains since its publication in 1976 the most comprehensive treatment."
"Thorough and scholarly, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America, since 1945 is a masterpiece of orchestration, skillfully handling a huge literature, drawing on historical events and the conservative thinkers' personalitiesâ€¦"
-- The Social Critic
"Nash's seminal book will remind today's hotheads that the modern conservative movement was made possible by a coalition of traditionalists and libertarians with enough common goals to get along splendidly. Is the corrupt liberal state not enough to keep this unity intact?"
-- The American Spectator
"As always, [Nash's] treatment is evenly balanced and scrupulously fair. Conservatives of all persuasions can be grateful to have George Nash as their historian."
-- First Things
"Today, it is the single best source of information on the intellectuals who built modern American conservatism."
-- Amazon.com, Expert Editor's Recommended Book
Consumers of American media find themselves in a news world that has shifted toward more conservative reporting. This book takes a measured, historical view of the shift, addressing factors that include the greater skill with which conservatives have used the media, the media’s gradual trend toward conservatism, the role of religion, and the effects of media conglomeration. The book makes the case that the media have managed to not only enable today’s conservative resurgence but also ignore, largely, the consequences of that change for the American people.
The first full-scale biography of Robert Welch, who founded the John Birch Society and planted some of modern conservatism’s most insidious seeds.
Though you may not know his name, Robert Welch (1899-1985)—founder of the John Birch Society—is easily one of the most significant architects of our current political moment. In A Conspiratorial Life, the first full-scale biography of Welch, Edward H. Miller delves deep into the life of an overlooked figure whose ideas nevertheless reshaped the American right.
A child prodigy who entered college at age 12, Welch became an unlikely candy magnate, founding the company that created Sugar Daddies, Junior Mints, and other famed confections. In 1958, he funneled his wealth into establishing the organization that would define his legacy and change the face of American politics: the John Birch Society. Though the group’s paranoiac right-wing nativism was dismissed by conservative thinkers like William F. Buckley, its ideas gradually moved from the far-right fringe into the mainstream. By exploring the development of Welch’s political worldview, A Conspiratorial Life shows how the John Birch Society’s rabid libertarianism—and its highly effective grassroots networking—became a profound, yet often ignored or derided influence on the modern Republican Party. Miller convincingly connects the accusatory conservatism of the midcentury John Birch Society to the inflammatory rhetoric of the Tea Party, the Trump administration, Q, and more. As this book makes clear, whether or not you know his name or what he accomplished, it’s hard to deny that we’re living in Robert Welch’s America.
Creating Conservatism charts the vital role of canonical post–World War II (1945–1964) books in generating, guiding, and sustaining conservatism as a political force in the United States. Dedicated conservatives have argued for decades that the conservative movement was a product of print, rather than a march, a protest, or a pivotal moment of persecution. The Road to Serfdom, Ideas Have Consequences, Witness, The Conservative Mind, God and Man at Yale, The Conscience of a Conservative, and other mid-century texts became influential not only among conservative office-holders, office-seekers, and well-heeled donors but also at dinner tables, school board meetings, and neighborhood reading groups. These books are remarkable both because they enumerated conservative political positions and because their memorable language demonstrated how to take those positions—functioning, in essence, as debate handbooks. Taking an expansive approach, the author documents the wide influence of the conservative canon on traditionalist and libertarian conservatives. By exploring the varied uses to which each founding text has been put from the Cold War to the culture wars, Creating Conservatism generates original insights about the struggle over what it means to think and speak conservatively in America.
This lively and controversial work critiques the conservative efforts in the 1970s and 1980s to undo the educational reforms of the 1960s, to reestablish control over the curriculum, and to change the nature of the debate and the goals of education.
"An outstanding work of educational theory and history."—John Coatsworth, University of Chicago
Detroit's Cold War locates the roots of American conservatism in a city that was a nexus of labor and industry in postwar America. Drawing on meticulous archival research focusing on Detroit, Colleen Doody shows how conflict over business values and opposition to labor, anticommunism, racial animosity, and religion led to the development of a conservative ethos in the aftermath of World War II.
Using Detroit--with its large population of African-American and Catholic immigrant workers, strong union presence, and starkly segregated urban landscape--as a case study, Doody articulates a nuanced understanding of anticommunism during the Red Scare. Looking beyond national politics, she focuses on key debates occurring at the local level among a wide variety of common citizens. In examining this city's social and political fabric, Doody illustrates that domestic anticommunism was a cohesive, multifaceted ideology that arose less from Soviet ideological incursion than from tensions within the American public.
"A magisterially written, well-researched, informative, and entertaining biography of a woman who helped throw open the doors to broader participation and power for women in the Republican Party and American politics."
---Dave Dempsey, author of William G. Milliken: Michigan's Passionate Moderate
"Elly Peterson will be a text to which historians and researchers turn for insight into the yin and yang of mainstream politics in the mid-century."
---Patricia Sullivan, past president, Journalism and Women Symposium
"This lively portrait of a leading woman in the Republican Party between 1952 and 1982 also charts the party's shift to the right after 1964, revealingly viewed through the eyes of liberal Republican women. Intensively researched with ethnographic attention to the subtleties of political culture, Fitzgerald's book is essential reading for anyone interested in how the Republican Party changed during the turbulent decades after 1960 and how women and women's issues shaped those changes."
---Kathryn Kish Sklar, Distinguished Professor of History, State University of New York, Binghamton
"Sara Fitzgerald tells Peterson's story in this superb and timely biography. It carries a message that deserves the widest audience as the nation struggles to find needed consensus on critical issues amid poisonous political partisanship that has made it increasingly difficult for public officials to bridge their differences. I hope that every American reads it."
---Pulitzer Prize winner Haynes Johnson, from the Foreword
"To understand the quest for equal rights in America you really need to meet those women who were active at the time of transition. In this gripping biography we meet one woman who entered a male dominated world and triumphed."
---Francis X. Blouin Jr., Director, Bentley Historical Library
"Sara Fitzgerald's writing is as intelligent as it is entertaining."
---Best-selling novelist Diane Chamberlain
Elly Peterson was one of the highest ranking women in the Republican Party. In 1964 she ran for a Michigan seat in the U.S. Senate and became the first woman to serve as chair of the Michigan Republican Party. During the 1960s she grew disenchanted with the increasing conservatism of her party, united with other feminists to push for the Equal Rights Amendment and reproductive choice, battled Phyllis Schlafly to prevent her from gaining control of the National Federation of Republican Women, and became an independent.
Elly Peterson's story is a missing chapter in the political history of Michigan, as well as the United States. This new biography, written by Sara Fitzgerald (a Michigan native and former Washington Post editor), finally gives full credit to one of the first female political leaders in this country.
When Peterson resigned in 1970 as assistant chairman of the Republican National Committee, David Broder of the Washington Post wrote that "her abilities would have earned her the national chairmanship, were it not for the unwritten sex barrier both parties have erected around that job."
The Exiled Generations is a collection of poignant testimonials by individuals whose parents and relatives were purged from or left the Southern Baptist Convention in the wake of the fundamentalist takeover beginning in 1980. Building upon Professor Kell’s earlier work, Exiled, which revealed the stories of those who were themselves expurgated, this new book details the experiences of their relations—the sons and daughters who saw their moderate-leaning parents lose pastoral positions, administrative posts, missionary appointments, or seminary professorships, and who faced their own often fraught relationships with their church home.
Until now, the stories of this “lost generation” have never been fully told. In this collection, Professor Kell presents a diverse and wide range of voices. Some are well-known Baptist leaders, while others are ordinary people caught up in the remarkable changes in Baptist life over the past few decades. Here, they recount their feelings of loss as they were severed from youth fellowships and removed from church rolls. Many describe the lingering emotional effects of the heartbreaking conflict that dominated their childhood and adolescence. Their recollections reveal the full range of responses—anger, sadness, pathos, humor, intense inner reflection—to these enormous shifts. This volume shows the extent to which this group has struggled and wandered in emotional and religious exile. The Exiled Generations comprises rich primary sources for scholars and students who are exploring the profound strife that has rocked the Southern Baptist Convention. These deeply moving accounts will offer invaluable assistance to researchers analyzing the impact of the seismic changes within the denomination over the past thirty-five years.
A transformative progressive politics requires the state's reimagining. But how should the state be reimagined, and what can invigorate this process? In Feeling Like a State, Davina Cooper explores the unexpected contribution a legal drama of withdrawal might make to conceptualizing a more socially just, participative state. In recent years, as gay rights have expanded, some conservative Christians—from charities to guesthouse owners and county clerks—have denied people inclusion, goods, and services because of their sexuality. In turn, liberal public bodies have withdrawn contracts, subsidies, and career progression from withholding conservative Christians. Cooper takes up the discourses and practices expressed in this legal conflict to animate and support an account of the state as heterogeneous, plural, and erotic. Arguing for the urgent need to put new imaginative forms into practice, Cooper examines how dissident and experimental institutional thinking materialize as people assert a democratic readiness to recraft the state.
Over the past quarter century, American liberals and conservatives alike have invoked memories of the 1960s to define their respective ideological positions and to influence voters. Liberals recall the positive associations of what might be called the "good Sixties"—the "Camelot" years of JFK, the early civil rights movement, and the dreams of the Great Society—while conservatives conjure images of the "bad Sixties"—a time of urban riots, antiwar protests, and countercultural revolt.
In Framing the Sixties, Bernard von Bothmer examines this battle over the collective memory of the decade primarily through the lens of presidential politics. He shows how four presidents—Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush—each sought to advance his political agenda by consciously shaping public understanding of the meaning of "the Sixties." He compares not only the way that each depicted the decade as a whole, but also their commentary on a set of specific topics: the presidency of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" initiatives, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War.
In addition to analyzing the pronouncements of the presidents themselves, von Bothmer draws on interviews he conducted with more than one hundred and twenty cabinet members, speechwriters, advisers, strategists, historians, journalists, and activists from across the political spectrum—from Julian Bond, Daniel Ellsberg, Todd Gitlin, and Arthur Schlesinger to James Baker, Robert Bork, Phyllis Schlafly, and Paul Weyrich.
It is no secret that the upheavals of the 1960s opened fissures within American society that have continued to affect the nation's politics and to intensify its so-called culture wars. What this book documents is the extent to which political leaders, left and right, consciously exploited those divisions by "framing" the memory of that turbulent decade to serve their own partisan interests.
Once on the wings of the American political stage, conservatism now plays a leading role in public life, thanks largely to the dynamic legacy of Ronald Reagan. But despite conservatism’s emergence as a powerful political force in the last several decades, misunderstandings abound about its meaning and nature—economically, internationally, philosophically, politically, religiously, and socially. In examining these misunderstandings, The Future of American Conservatism: Consensus and Conflict in the Post-Reagan Era reveals the forces that unite, and the tensions that divide, conservatives today.
Edited by noted Reagan scholar Charles W. Dunn, this collection casts conservatism as a collage of complexity that defies easy characterization. Although it is commonly considered an ideology, many of conservatism’s foremost intellectuals dispute this notion. Although it is thought to embody a standard set of principles, its principles frequently conflict. Although many leading intellectuals, liberal and conservative, believe that conservatism lacks a significant tradition in America, it has contributed more to American life than the credit lines indicate. And although it is usually thought to create homogeneity among its adherents, in truth conservatism is marked by a great deal of heterogeneity in both its adherents and its ideas.
In fact, conservatism’s complexity may well be its strength—or so the essays gathered here suggest. In painting a bright picture of the prospects for conservatives, The Future of American Conservatism is a timely and thought-provoking volume.
What does it mean to be a religious conservative, particularly for women, in America today? While it appears that people are returning to conservative religion because they are fed up with the excesses of liberalism, including feminism, a closer look at the lives of religious conservatives reveals a more complex reality. Drawing on two years of ethnographic research in Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant communities, Christel Manning explores the diversity among women who have returned to tradition. Arguing that America has undergone profound cultural and economic changes in the last thirty years, which create tension between women's lives and traditional gender roles, she demonstrates that conservative Catholics, Orthodox Jews, and Evangelical Protestants negotiate those tensions in different ways. Manning also shows that women in conservative religious communities share many of the same concerns as secular women.
Manning looks at how the religious communities profiled have been influenced by feminist values and describes the ways in which these women negotiate gender roles at work, religious services, and at home. She explains how they deal with the inconsistencies created by their attempts to integrate feminist and traditionalist norms. In highly accessible prose, Manning examines their attitudes towards the feminist movement, its impact on American culture, and the extent to which the women seek to resist it. God Gave Us the Right explains how these different views of feminism reflect the diverse theologies and historical experiences of the three communities.
Audacious in its scope, subtle in its analysis, and persuasive in its arguments, The Great Melding is the second book in Glenn Feldman’s magisterial recounting of the South’s transformation from a Reconstruction-era citadel of Democratic Party inertia to a cauldron of GOP agitation. In this pioneering study, Feldman shows how the transitional years after World War II, the Dixiecrat episode, and the early 1950s formed a pivotal sequence of events that altered America’s political landscape in profound, fundamental, and unexpected ways.
Feldman’s landmark work The Irony of the Solid South dismantled the myth of the New Deal consensus, proving it to be only a fleeting alliance of fissiparous factions; The Great Melding further examines how the South broke away from that consensus. Exploring issues of race and white supremacy, Feldman documents and explains the roles of economics, religion, and emotive appeals to patriotism in southern voting patterns. His probing and original analysis includes a discussion of the limits of southern liberalism and a fresh examination of the Dixiecrat Revolt of 1948.
Feldman convincingly argues that the Dixiecrats—often dismissed as a transitory footnote in American politics—served as a template for the modern conservative movement. Now a predictable Republican stronghold, Alabama at the time was viewed by national political strategists as a battleground and bellwether. Masterfully synthesizing a vast range of sources, Feldman shows that Alabama was then one of the few states where voters made unpredictable choices between the competing ideologies of the Democrats, Republicans, and Dixiecrats.
Writing in his lively and provocative style, Feldman demonstrates that the events he recounts in Alabama between 1942 and Dwight Eisenhower’s 1952 election encapsulate a rare moment of fluidity in American politics, one in which the New Deal consensus shattered and the Democratic and Republican parties fought off a third-party revolt only to find themselves irrevocably altered by their success. The Great Melding will fascinate historians, political scientists, political strategists, and readers of political nonfiction.
In the twenty-first century, why do we keep talking about the Fifties and the Sixties? The stark contrast between these decades, their concurrence with the childhood and youth of the baby boomers, and the emergence of television and rock and roll help to explain their symbolic power. In Happy Days and Wonder Years, Daniel Marcus reveals how interpretations of these decades have figured in the cultural politics of the United States since 1970.
From Ronald Reagan's image as a Fifties Cold Warrior to Bill Clinton's fandom for Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy, politicians have invoked the Fifties and the Sixties to connect to their public. Marcus shows how films, television, music, and memoirs have responded to the political nostalgia of today, and why our entertainment remains immersed in reruns, revivals, and references to earlier times. This book offers a new understanding of how politics and popular culture have influenced our notions of the past, and how events from long ago continue to shape our understanding of the present day.
A rhetorical examination of the rise of populist conservatism
I The People: The Rhetoric of Conservative Populism in the United States examines a variety of texts—ranging from speeches and campaign advertisements to news reports and political pamphlets—to outline the populist character of conservatism in the United States. Paul Elliott Johnson focuses on key inflection points in the development of populist conservatism, including its manifestation in the racially charged presidential election of 1964, its consolidation at the height of Ronald Reagan’s reelection campaign in 1984, and its character in successive moments that saw its fortunes wax and wane, including 1994, the Obama era, and the rise of Donald J. Trump. theorizing conservative populism as a rhetorical form, Johnson advances scholarship about populism away from a binary ideological framework while offering a useful lens for contextualizing scholarship on American conservatism. I The People emphasizes that the populist roots of conservative hegemony exercise a powerful constraining force on conservative intellectuals, whose power to shape and control the movement to which they belong is circumscribed by the form of its public-facing appeals.
The study also reframes scholarly understandings of the conservative tradition’s seeming multiplicity, especially the tendency to suggest an abiding conservative unease regarding capitalism, showing how racist hostility underwrote a compromise with an increasingly economized understanding of humanity. Johnson also contests the narrative that conservatives learned to practice identity politics from social progressives. From the beginning, conservatism’s public vernacular was a white and masculine identity politics reliant on a rhetoric of victimhood, whether critiquing the liberal Cold War consensus or President Barack Obama.
“The great unsung hero of the conservative movement” —MARK LEVIN
If Not Us, Who? is both the story of an architect of the modern conservative movement and a colorful journey through a half century of high-level politics.
Best known as the longtime publisher of National Review, William Rusher (1923–2011) was more than just a crucial figure in the history of the Right’s leading magazine. He was a political intellectual, tactician, and strategist who helped shape the historic rise of conservatism.
To write If Not Us, Who?, David B. Frisk pored over Rusher’s voluminous papers at the Library of Congress and interviewed dozens of insiders, including National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr., in addition to Rusher himself. The result is a gripping biography, authorized yet independent, that shines new light on Rusher’s significance as an observer and an activist while bringing to life more than a generation’s worth of political hopes, fears, and controversies.
Frisk vividly captures the joys and struggles at National Review, including Rusher’s complex relationship with the legendary Buckley. Here we see the powerful blend of wit, erudition, dedication, shrewdness, and earnestness that made Rusher an influential figure at NR and an indispensable link between conservatism’s leading theorists and its political practitioners.
“If not us, who? If not now, when?”—a maxim often attributed to Ronald Reagan—could have been Rusher’s motto. In everything he did—publishing National Review, recruiting and advising political candidates, organizing cadres of young conservatives, taking on liberal advocates in a popular television debate program, writing a syndicated column—his objective was to build a movement. And he constantly exhorted his colleagues to step up as leaders of that movement. His tireless efforts proved essential to conservatism’s ascendancy, from the pivotal Goldwater campaign through the Reagan era.
Largely unexamined until now, Rusher’s career opens a new window onto the history of the conservative movement, its successes and failures. This comprehensive biography reintroduces readers to a remarkable man of thought and action.
As immigration from Asia and Latin America reshapes the demographic composition of the U.S., some analysts have anticipated the decline of conservative white evangelicals’ influence in politics. Yet, Donald Trump captured a larger share of the white evangelical vote in the 2016 election than any candidate in the previous four presidential elections. Why has the political clout of white evangelicals persisted at a time of increased racial and ethnic diversity? In Immigrants, Evangelicals, and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change, political scientist Janelle Wong examines a new generation of Asian American and Latino evangelicals and offers an account of why demographic change has not contributed to a political realignment.
Asian Americans and Latinos currently constitute 13 percent of evangelicals, and their churches are among the largest, fastest growing organizations in their communities. While evangelical identity is associated with conservative politics, Wong draws from national surveys and interviews to show that non-white evangelicals express political attitudes that are significantly less conservative than those of their white counterparts. Black, Asian American, and Latino evangelicals are much more likely to support policies such as expanded immigration rights, increased taxation of the wealthy, and government interventions to slow climate change. As Wong argues, non-white evangelicals’ experiences as members of racial or ethnic minority groups often lead them to adopt more progressive political views compared to their white counterparts.
However, despite their growth in numbers, non-white evangelicals—particularly Asian Americans and Latinos—are concentrated outside of swing states, have lower levels of political participation than white evangelicals, and are less likely to be targeted by political campaigns. As a result, white evangelicals dominate the evangelical policy agenda and are overrepresented at the polls. Also, many white evangelicals have adopted even more conservative political views in response to rapid demographic change, perceiving, for example, that discrimination against Christians now rivals discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities.
Wong demonstrates that immigrant evangelicals are neither “natural” Republicans nor “natural” Democrats. By examining the changing demographics of the evangelical movement, Immigrants, Evangelicals, and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change sheds light on an understudied constituency that has yet to find its political home.
In the Name of the Father: The Rhetoric of the New Southern Baptist Conventionbegins with an analysis of the 1979 Southern Baptist Convention, the watershed convention where moderate forces fell before the powerful oratory of the ultraconservative faction, which has remained in power ever since. Communication professors Carl L. Kell and L. Raymond Camp investigate the rhetorical shift from moderate to ultraconservative in the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest denomination in the South and the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.
Drawing on sermons delivered at national conventions from 1979 to the present, Kell and Camp outline the discourses of fundamentalism, inerrancy, and exclusion. These discourses, the authors assert, point to the SBC leaders’ call for a return to times before feminism and tolerance of varying sexual orientations allegedly brought chaos to society and shook believers from their theological foundations.
Among politicians of national stature today, there is perhaps none more respected as a principled conservative than Rick Santorum. In It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good, Santorum articulates the humane vision that he believes must inform public policy if it is to be effective and just. An appreciation for the civic bonds that unite a community lies at the heart of genuine conservatism. Moreover, Santorum demonstrates how such an approach to political, social, and economic problems offers the most promise for those on the margin of life: the poor, the vulnerable, and minorities who have often been excluded from opportunity in America.
Santorum argues that conservative statesmanship is animated by a sense of stewardship for an inheritance. But what do we inherit as Americans? And how can we be good stewards of that inheritance? Building on Robert Putnam’s discussion of “social capital,” the habits of association and trust that are the preconditions of any decent society, Santorum assesses how well, in the past generation, Americans have cared for the “fabric” of society. He explores in detail various dimensions of social and cultural connection that are the foundation of the common good. And he presents innovative policy proposals for the renewal of American society at all levels.
Throughout his book, Santorum emphasizes the central role of the family—in contradistinction to the metaphorical “village” of the federal government, as promoted by Hillary Clinton—in achieving the common good. With a sustained argument touching on first principles throughout, this ambitious and original book is a major contribution to contemporary political debate. It Takes a Family further establishes Santorum as the leader of reform-minded civic conservatives in America.
“In the Norman Rockwell paintings of the 1940s and 1950s,” wrote Newt Gingrich, “there was a clear sense of what it meant to be an American.” Gingrich’s words underline what Mary Caputi sees as a desire of the neoconservative movement to set a foundation for modern America that ennobles the past.
Analyzing these competing uses of the past, A Kinder, Gentler America reveals how longing for the era of “the greatest generation” actually exposes a disillusionment with the present. Caputi draws on the theoretical frameworks of Julia Kristeva and Walter Benjamin to look at how the decade has been portrayed in movies such as Pleasantville and Far from Heaven and delves further to investigate our disenchantment’s lost origins in early modernity through a reading of the poetry of Baudelaire. What emerges is a stark contrast between the depictions of a melancholic present and a cheerful, shiny past. In the right’s invocation of the mythical 1950s and the left’s criticism of the same, Caputi recognizes a common unfulfilled desire, and proposes that by understanding this loss both sides can begin to accept that American identity, despite chaos and confusion, lies in the here and now.
Mary Caputi is professor of political science at California State University, Long Beach, and is author of Voluptuous Yearnings: A Feminist Theory of the Obscene.
A timely and multifaceted portrait of the lawyers who serve the diverse constituencies of the conservative movement, Lawyers of the Right explains what unites and divides lawyers for the three major groups—social conservatives, libertarians, and business advocates—that have coalesced in recent decades behind the Republican Party.
Drawing on in-depth interviews with more than seventy lawyers who represent conservative and libertarian nonprofit organizations, Ann Southworth explores their values and identities and traces the implications of their shared interest in promoting political strategies that give lawyers leading roles. She goes on to illuminate the function of mediator organizations—such as the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy—that have succeeded in promoting cooperation among different factions of conservative lawyers. Such cooperation, she finds, has aided efforts to drive law and the legal profession politically rightward and to give lawyers greater prominence in the conservative movement. Southworth concludes, though, that tensions between the conservative law movement’s elite and populist elements may ultimately lead to its undoing.
This is a major contribution to political thought from conservatism’s greatest contemporary proponent. Originally published in Britain in 1980 and revised in 1984, this edition – the first ever in the United States – is a major rewriting of the work. Scruton’s idea of conservatism – what in America we tend to call “paleo-conservatism” – might well shock the sensibilities of those American conservatives” who view it as little more than the workings of the free market. Conservatism, says Scruton, is neither automatic hostility toward the state nor the desire to limit the state’s obligations toward the citizen.
Rather, conservatism regards the individual not as the premise but the conclusion of politics, a politics that is fundamentally opposed to the ethic of social justice, to equality of station, income, and achievement, or to the attempt to bring major institutions of society (such as schools and universities) under government control.
The conservative outlook, says Scruton, is neither outmoded nor irrational. On the contrary, it is the most reasonable of political alternatives. The evils of socialism, he maintains, lie precisely where its supporters find its strengths, and the conditions for the credibility of socialism have long since disappeared. Neither socialism nor liberalism can come to terms with the real complexity of human society, and both appear plausible only because they direct attention away from what is actual, toward what is merely ideal.
From earlier editions of The Meaning of Conservatism:
“The book provides exactly that swift kick on the intellectual bottom which every undergraduate student of political science needs, most of them more urgently than ever before.” – T. E. Utley, (London) Daily Telegraph
“If the text is full of surprises, the manner is no less striking than the matter. Scruton is a great stylist, and one is continually arrested by beautifully crafted phrases which beg for quotation. . . . [He] is a cultured and critical guide through the traditional landscape of conservatism; his book provokes thought and it is a pleasure to read.”
– Bram Gieben, Political Quarterly
“. . . remarkable work. . . . The highest praise which one can bestow on The Meaning of Conservatism is to say that it reminds one at every page of Thomas Hobbes, the greatest master of the English language ever to write a work of political theory.” – Jonathan Sumption, Sunday Telegraph
“. . . clearly too ghastly to be taken seriously.” – Andrew Belsey, Radical Philosophy
In this classic text, the first full-scale application of cognitive science to politics, George Lakoff analyzes the unconscious and rhetorical worldviews of liberals and conservatives, discovering radically different but remarkably consistent conceptions of morality on both the left and right. For this new edition, Lakoff adds a preface and an afterword extending his observations to major ideological conflicts since the book's original publication, from the impeachment of Bill Clinton to the 2000 presidential election and its aftermath.
When Moral Politics was first published two decades ago, it redefined how Americans think and talk about politics through the lens of cognitive political psychology. Today, George Lakoff’s classic text has become all the more relevant, as liberals and conservatives have come to hold even more vigorously opposed views of the world, with the underlying assumptions of their respective worldviews at the level of basic morality. Even more so than when Lakoff wrote, liberals and conservatives simply have very different, deeply held beliefs about what is right and wrong.
Lakoff reveals radically different but remarkably consistent conceptions of morality on both the left and right. Moral worldviews, like most deep ways of understanding the world, are unconscious—part of our “hard-wired” brain circuitry. When confronted with facts that don’t fit our moral worldview, our brains work automatically and unconsciously to ignore or reject these facts, and it takes extraordinary openness and awareness of this phenomenon to pay critical attention to the vast number of facts we are presented with each day. For this new edition, Lakoff has added a new preface and afterword, extending his observations to major ideological conflicts since the book's original publication, from the Affordable Care Act to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the recent financial crisis, and the effects of global warming. One might have hoped such massive changes would bring people together, but the reverse has actually happened; the divide between liberals and conservatives has become stronger and more virulent.
To have any hope of bringing mutual respect to the current social and political divide, we need to clearly understand the problem and make it part of our contemporary public discourse. Moral Politics offers a much-needed wake-up call to both the left and the right.
Moral Politics takes a fresh look at how we think and talk about political and moral ideas. George Lakoff analyzed recent political discussion to find that the family—especially the ideal family—is the most powerful metaphor in politics today. Revealing how family-based moral values determine views on diverse issues as crime, gun control, taxation, social programs, and the environment, George Lakoff looks at how conservatives and liberals link morality to politics through the concept of family and how these ideals diverge. Arguing that conservatives have exploited the connection between morality, the family, and politics, while liberals have failed to recognized it, Lakoff explains why conservative moral position has not been effectively challenged. A wake up call to political pundits on both the left and the right, this work redefines how Americans think and talk about politics.
When conservatives took control of the federal judiciary in the 1980s, it was widely assumed that they would reverse the landmark rights-protecting precedents set by the Warren Court and replace them with a broad commitment to judicial restraint. Instead, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice William Rehnquist has reaffirmed most of those liberal decisions while creating its own brand of conservative judicial activism.
Ranging from 1937 to the present, The Most Activist Supreme Court in History traces the legal and political forces that have shaped the modern Court. Thomas M. Keck argues that the tensions within modern conservatism have produced a court that exercises its own power quite actively, on behalf of both liberal and conservative ends. Despite the long-standing conservative commitment to restraint, the justices of the Rehnquist Court have stepped in to settle divisive political conflicts over abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, presidential elections, and much more. Keck focuses in particular on the role of Justices O'Connor and Kennedy, whose deciding votes have shaped this uncharacteristically activist Court.
The classics of Western culture are out, not being taught, replaced by second-rate and Third World texts. White males are a victimized minority on campuses across the country, thanks to affirmative action. Speech codes have silenced anyone who won’t toe the liberal line. Feminists, wielding their brand of sexual correctness, have taken over. These are among the prevalent myths about higher education that John K. Wilson explodes. The phrase "political correctness" is on everyone’s lips, on radio and television, and in newspapers and magazines. The phenomenon itself, however, has been deceptively described. Wilson steps into the nation’s favorite cultural fray to reveal that many of the most widely publicized anecdotes about PC are in fact more myth than reality. Based on his own experience as a student and in-depth research, he shows what’s really going on beneath the hysteria and alarmism about political correctness and finds that the most disturbing examples of thought policing on campus have come from the right. The image of the college campus as a gulag of left-wing totalitarianism is false, argues Wilson, created largely through the exaggeration of deceptive stories by conservatives who hypocritically seek to silence their political opponents. Many of today’s most controversial topics are here: multiculturalism, reverse discrimination, speech codes, date rape, and sexual harassment. So are the well-recognized protagonists in the debate: Dinesh D’Souza, William Bennett, and Lynne Cheney, among others. In lively fashion and in meticulous detail, Wilson compares fact to fiction and lays one myth after another to rest, revealing the double standard that allows "conservative correctness" on college campuses to go unchallenged.
Neoconservatism has undergone a transformation that has made a clear identity almost impossible to capture. The Republican foreign policy operatives of the George W. Bush era seem far removed from the early liberal intellectuals who focused on domestic issues. Justin Vaïsse offers the first comprehensive history of neoconservatism, exploring the connections between a changing and multifaceted school of thought, a loose network of thinkers and activists, and American political life in turbulent times.
In an insightful portrait of the neoconservatives and their impact on public life, Vaïsse frames the movement in three distinct ages: the New York intellectuals who reacted against the 1960s leftists; the “Scoop Jackson Democrats,” who tried to preserve a mix of hawkish anticommunism abroad and social progress at home but failed to recapture the soul of the Democratic Party; and the “Neocons” of the 1990s and 2000s, who are no longer either liberals or Democrats. He covers neglected figures of this history such as Pat Moynihan, Eugene Rostow, Lane Kirkland, and Bayard Rustin, and offers new historical insight into two largely overlooked organizations, the Coalition for a Democratic Majority and the Committee on the Present Danger. He illuminates core developments, including the split of liberalism in the 1960s, and the shifting relationship between partisan affiliation and foreign policy positions.
Vaïsse gives neoconservatism its due as a complex movement and predicts it will remain an influential force in the American political landscape.
The Next Conservatism
Paul M. Weyrich and William S. Lind St. Augustine's Press, 2009 Library of Congress JC573.2.U6W47 2009 | Dewey Decimal 320.520973
Since November’s election, conservative columnists have filled the op-ed pages with calls for a new conservative agenda. In The Next Conservatism, two of the conservative movement’s best-known thinkers, Paul M. Weyrich and William S. Lind, offer exactly that. More, they offer a new kind of conservative agenda, one that reaches far beyond politics to grapple with the sources of our nation’s cultural decay. The Next Conservatism recognizes that culture is more powerful than politics. Nevertheless, it offers an engaging menu of political reforms, all under the rubric of “Restore the Republic!” No enthusiasts of Imperial America at home or abroad, Weyrich and Lind seek limited government, jealous guardianship of civil liberties, and a Washington liberated from the power of the New Class, the interests that feed off our nation’s decay. To these frequent conservative themes, Weyrich and Lind offer something new: a warning of a general crisis of legitimacy of the state itself, which can lead to a Hobbesian state of anarchy. How might we save the state while avoiding the jaws of Leviathan? The Next Conservatism offers innovative ways to thread that needle.
Meanwhile, what of America’s culture? Did its decay over the past half-century “just happen”? Weyrich and Lind argue no; rather, much of our degradation was deliberate, the work of the poisonous ideology of cultural Marxism, aka “Political Correctness.” The Next Conservatism takes the reader on a fascinating historical tour of the origins of Political Correctness in the infamous Frankfurt School, a gathering of heretical Marxists whose goal from the outset was the destruction of Western culture.
Weyrich and Lind then proceed to “deconstruct” the left’s program for America, debunking Feminism, “racism,” and environmentalism along the way. Reflecting the thought of Russell Kirk, The Next Conservatism condemns ideologies left and right, calling instead for a return to traditional ways of living, ways that reflect wisdom accumulated generation by generation. Only thus, they argue, can conservatives win a culture war many regard as hopelessly lost.
Old ways, in turn, lead to a Next Conservatism appropriate for hard times. Virtue, Weyrich and Lind offer, is to be found in modest living, not conspicuous consumption. The Next Conservative agenda rejects environmentalism but includes conservation, the return of the family farm, New Urbanism and the revival of such ‘oldies but goodies” as streetcars and passenger trains. A new theme, Retroculture, sums up a conservatism that recognizes that what worked in the past can work again today, and in the future as well. Our ancestors were no fools, the authors suggest, and “Back to the Future!” can serve as a powerful conservative rallying cry.
Having laid the political and cultural groundwork, The Next Conservatism then turns to conservative governance. In foreign policy, the authors call for minimizing foreign entanglements, though with a strong national defense and a military reform to adapt to face Fourth Generation warfare rather than the Second Generation America adheres to. For the economy, the authors call for repairing and expanding our national infrastructure, sound money, and protecting American industry, seeing labor as a potential ally. In both national security and economic security, the authors insist that good governance include moral security; drawing from the New Urbanism, they offer a “moral transect” that allows everyone to do what he wants, but not always where he wants. The public square, they suggest, should be safe for families.
Respecting the careful limits on government power a restored republic would embody, The Next Conservatism calls for redeeming America not through legislation but through a new conservative movement. Unlike the old movement, the next conservative movement would be a league of people who pledged to live their lives by the old rules. While conservatives would remain engaged in politics, they would rely on a vastly more powerful force of example, the examples of lives lived well in traditional ways. This next conservative movement would appeal far beyond the ranks of political conservatives, to all Americans who know that something has gone tragically wrong in the life of our nation. The Next Conservatism offers a vision of vast sweep, far beyond anything coming out of Washington. At a time when most Americans find life growing more difficult, it proposes a path to a new America that is also the old America, the good, comfortable America we had and have lost.
Few question the “right turn” America took after 1966, when liberal political power began to wane. But if they did, No Right Turn suggests, they might discover that all was not really “right” with the conservative golden age. A provocative overview of a half century of American politics, the book takes a hard look at the counterrevolutionary dreams of liberalism’s enemies—to overturn people’s reliance on expanding government, reverse the moral and sexual revolutions, and win the Culture War—and finds them largely unfulfilled.
David Courtwright deftly profiles celebrated and controversial figures, from Clare Boothe Luce, Barry Goldwater, and the Kennedy brothers to Jerry Falwell, David Stockman, and Lee Atwater. He shows us Richard Nixon’s keen talent for turning popular anxieties about morality and federal meddling to Republican advantage—and his inability to translate this advantage into reactionary policies. Corporate interests, boomer lifestyles, and the media weighed heavily against Nixon and his successors, who placated their base with high-profile attacks on crime, drugs, and welfare dependency. Meanwhile, religious conservatives floundered on abortion and school prayer, obscenity, gay rights, and legalized vices like gambling, and fiscal conservatives watched in dismay as the bills mounted.
We see how President Reagan’s mélange of big government, strong defense, lower taxes, higher deficits, mass imprisonment, and patriotic symbolism proved an illusory form of conservatism. Ultimately, conservatives themselves rebelled against George W. Bush’s profligate brand of Reaganism. Courtwright’s account is both surprising and compelling, a bracing argument against some of our most cherished clichés about recent American history.
On the morning of November 22, 1963, President Kennedy told Jackie as they started for Dallas, “We’re heading into nut country today.” That day’s events ultimately obscured and revealed just how right he was: Oswald was a lone gunman, but the city that surrounded him was full of people who hated Kennedy and everything he stood for, led by a powerful group of ultraconservatives who would eventually remake the Republican party in their own image.
In Nut Country, Edward H. Miller tells the story of that transformation, showing how a group of influential far-right businessmen, religious leaders, and political operatives developed a potent mix of hardline anticommunism, biblical literalism, and racism to generate a violent populism—and widespread power. Though those figures were seen as extreme in Texas and elsewhere, mainstream Republicans nonetheless found themselves forced to make alliances, or tack to the right on topics like segregation. As racial resentment came to fuel the national Republican party’s divisive but effective “Southern Strategy,” the power of the extreme conservatives rooted in Texas only grew.
Drawing direct lines from Dallas to DC, Miller's captivating history offers a fresh understanding of the rise of the new Republican Party and the apocalyptic language, conspiracy theories, and ideological rigidity that remain potent features of our politics today.
The idea that American education has been steered by progressive values is celebrated by liberals and deplored by conservatives, but both sides accept it as fact. Adam Laats shows that this widely held belief is simply wrong. Upending the standard narrative of American education as the product of courageous progressive reformers, he calls to center stage the conservative activists who decisively shaped America’s classrooms in the twentieth century. The Other School Reformers makes clear that, in the long march of American public education, progressive reform has more often been a beleaguered dream than an insuperable force.
Laats takes an in-depth look at four landmark school battles: the 1925 Scopes Trial, the 1939 Rugg textbook controversy, the 1950 ouster of Pasadena Public Schools Superintendent Willard Goslin, and the 1974 Kanawha County school boycott. Focused on issues ranging from evolution to the role of religion in education to the correct interpretation of American history, these four highly publicized controversies forced conservatives to articulate their vision of public schooling—a vision that would keep traditional Protestant beliefs in America’s classrooms and push out subversive subjects like Darwinism, socialism, multiculturalism, and feminism. As Laats makes clear in case after case, activists such as Hiram Evans and Norma Gabler, Homer Chaillaux and Louise Padelford were fiercely committed to a view of the curriculum that inculcated love of country, reinforced traditional gender roles and family structures, allowed no alternatives to capitalism, and granted religion a central role in civic life.
What were young conservatives doing in the 1960s while SDS and SNCC were working to move the political center to the left? The Other Side of the Sixties offers a gripping account of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), an organization that became a leading force in promoting conservative ideas and that helped lay the groundwork for today's conservatism. John Andrew has mined unique archival material to document YAF's efforts to form a viable organization, define a new conservatism, attack the liberal establishment, and seize control of the Republican party, all while battling voter hostility and internal factionalism. The author also uncovers the Kennedy administration's use of the IRS to subvert YAF and other right-wing organizations through tax audits and investigations. By painting a more balanced portrait of political thinking in the sixties, Andrew offers a new and much needed look at the ideological atmosphere of a vibrant decade.
A Partisan Church
Todd Scribner Catholic University of America Press, 2015 Library of Congress BX1406.3.S37 2015 | Dewey Decimal 282.7309045
In the wake of Vatican II and the political and social upheavals of the 1960s, disruption and disagreement rent the Catholic Church in America. Since then a diversity of opinions on a variety of political and religious questions found expression in the church, leading to a fragmented understanding of Catholic identity. Liberal, conservative, neoconservative and traditionalist Catholics competed to define what constituted an authentic Catholic worldview, thus making it nearly impossible to pinpoint a unique "Catholic position" on any given topic. A Partisan Church examines these controversies during the Reagan era and explores the way in which one group of intellectuals - well-known neoconservative Catholics such as George Weigel, Michael Novak, and Richard John Neuhaus - sought to reestablish a coherent and unified Catholic identity.
Taking corporate personhood as a starting point, Persons of the Market observes the complex historical entanglement of Christian theology and liberal capitalism to shed new
light on their seemingly odd marriage in contemporary American politics. Author Kevin Musgrave highlights the ways that theories of corporate and human personhood have long been and remain bound together by examining four case studies: the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1886 Santa Clara decision, the role of early twentieth-century advertisers in endowing corporations with souls, Justice Lewis Powell Jr.’s eponymous memo of 1971, and the arc of the conservative movement from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump. Tracing this rhetorical history of the extension and attribution of personhood to the corporate form illustrates how the corporation has for many increasingly become a normative model or ideal to which human persons should aspire. In closing, the book offers preliminary ideas about how we might fashion a more democratic and humane understanding of what it means to be a person.
Author of The Conservative Mind, Russell Kirk (1918–1994) was a principal architect of the American intellectual conservative movement. This book takes a closer look at his works on such subjects as law, history, economics, and statesmanship to introduce a new generation of readers to the depth and range of his thought.
Kirk probed the very meaning of conservatism for modern intellectuals, and in The Postmodern Imagination of Russell Kirk, Gerald Russello examines such key concepts of his thought as imagination, historical consciousness, the interplay between the individual and tradition, and the role of narrative in constructing individual and societal identity. By stressing the importance of Kirk’s perception of imagination, he offers a new approach to understanding him, showing not only that Kirk laid the groundwork for the “new conservatism” of the 1950s and ’60s, but also that his work evolved into a sophisticated critique of modernity paralleled in the work of some postmodern critics of liberalism.
In order to reconstruct Kirk’s attack on modernity, Russello examines his textbook on economics, his fiction, his work on Robert Taft and Orestes Brownson, his writings on the role of the statesman, and his neglected essays such as “The Age of Discussion” and “The Age of Sentiments.” Russello shows that Kirk welcomed the rise of some form of postmodernism, seeing in it a new opportunity for conservatism to engage the wider culture. Through this analysis, he situates Kirk within wider currents of contemporary thought, connecting him not only with such major thinkers as Lyotard, Boorstin, and Koestler but also with such lesser-known figures as Bernard Iddings Bell, Charles Baudouin, and Christopher Dawson.
By examining Kirk’s development of the imagination as a tool of conservative discourse, Russello offers an alternative genealogy for conservative thought that melds its antimodernism with postmodern themes. He has forged a lively and provocative work that provides unusual perspectives on Kirk within the wider context of debate over the future of conservatism in a time of shifting alliances—a book that will be a valuable resource for anyone seeking to understand Kirk or conservative thought.
In the wake of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, the Christian Right expected major victories in the 1998 elections. Instead, many of its allies lost close contests, and the movement was seen as a liability in some high-profile campaigns. In the only in-depth study of the Christian Right's role in these races, leading scholars analyze the role of the movement in fourteen key states, from Maine to California, and address speculations that the movement is fading from the American political scene.
The book focuses on elections on the state and local levels, where the Christian Right is most influential, and it describes the movement's niche in some detail. Although each campaign described in the book had its unique characteristics, the editors have drawn some broad conclusions about the 1998 elections. While the movement was weak in the areas of candidate recruitment and fundraising, they say, the outcome may have also been related to external factors including a broader turnout of typically Democratic constituencies and the country's boredom with the scandal that conservatives had made the centerpiece of their campaign. Despite the setbacks of 1998, the contributors argue, the Christian Right continues to have an enormous influence on the political dialogue of the country.
Written from an unbiased, nonpartisan perspective, this volume sheds light on a topic that is too frequently mired in controversy.
In the vast literature on the Vietnam War, much has been written about the antiwar movement and its influence on U.S. policy and politics. In this book, Sandra Scanlon shifts attention to those Americans who supported the war and explores the war's impact on the burgeoning conservative political movement of the 1960s and early 1970s.
Believing the Vietnam War to be a just and necessary cause, the pro-war movement pushed for more direct American military intervention in Southeast Asia throughout the Kennedy administration, lobbied for intensified bombing during the Johnson years, and offered coherent, if divided, endorsements of Nixon's policies of phased withdrawal. Although its political wing was dominated by individuals and organizations associated with Barry Goldwater's presidential bids, the movement incorporated a broad range of interests and groups united by a shared antipathy to the New Deal order and liberal Cold War ideology.
Appealing to patriotism, conservative leaders initially rallied popular support in favor of total victory and later endorsed Nixon's call for "peace with honor." Yet as the war dragged on with no clear end in sight, internal divisions eroded the confidence of pro-war conservatives in achieving their aims and forced them to reevaluate the political viability of their hardline Cold War rhetoric. Conservatives still managed to make use of grassroots patriotic campaigns to marshal support for the war, particularly among white ethnic workers opposed to the antiwar movement. Yet in so doing, Scanlon concludes, they altered the nature and direction of the conservative agenda in both foreign and domestic policy for years to come.
In The Queen of America Goes to Washington City, Lauren Berlant focuses on the need to revitalize public life and political agency in the United States. Delivering a devastating critique of contemporary discourses of American citizenship, she addresses the triumph of the idea of private life over that of public life borne in the right-wing agenda of the Reagan revolution. By beaming light onto the idealized images and narratives about sex and citizenship that now dominate the U.S. public sphere, Berlant argues that the political public sphere has become an intimate public sphere. She asks why the contemporary ideal of citizenship is measured by personal and private acts and values rather than civic acts, and the ideal citizen has become one who, paradoxically, cannot yet act as a citizen—epitomized by the American child and the American fetus. As Berlant traces the guiding images of U.S. citizenship through the process of privatization, she discusses the ideas of intimacy that have come to define national culture. From the fantasy of the American dream to the lessons of Forrest Gump, Lisa Simpson to Queer Nation, the reactionary culture of imperilled privilege to the testimony of Anita Hill, Berlant charts the landscape of American politics and culture. She examines the consequences of a shrinking and privatized concept of citizenship on increasing class, racial, sexual, and gender animosity and explores the contradictions of a conservative politics that maintains the sacredness of privacy, the virtue of the free market, and the immorality of state overregulation—except when it comes to issues of intimacy. Drawing on literature, the law, and popular media, The Queen of America Goes to Washington City is a stunning and major statement about the nation and its citizens in an age of mass mediation. As it opens a critical space for new theory of agency, its narratives and gallery of images will challenge readers to rethink what it means to be American and to seek salvation in its promise.
“Rac(e)ing to the Right is a great read and brings overdue attention to one of the most popular and controversial African American writers in history. . . . These writings reveal both the presence and the limits of conservatism in the African American intellectual tradition.”—Jeffrey A. Tucker, University of Rochester
From the 1920s to the 1970s, George S. Schuyler was one of the country’s most prolific—and controversial—observers of African American life. As journalist, socialist, novelist, right-wing conservative, and, finally, political outcast, his thought was rife with insight and contradiction. Until now, only Schuyler’s fiction has found its way back into print. Rac(e)ing to the Right is the first collection of his political and cultural criticism.
The essays gathered by Jeffrey Leak encompass three key periods of Schuyler’s development. The first section follows his literary evolution in the 1920s and 1930s, during which time he deserted the U.S. Army and briefly became a member of the Socialist Party. Part II reveals his shift toward political conservatism in response to World War II and the perceived threat of Communism. Part III covers the civil rights movement of the 1960s—an era that prompted some of his most extreme and volatile critiques of black leadership and liberal ideology. The book includes many essays that are not well known as well as pieces that have never before been published. One notable example is the first printed transcript of Schuyler’s 1961 debate on the Black Muslims with Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and C. Eric Lincoln.
Because African American experience is more often than not associated with liberalism and the left, the idea of a black conservative strikes many as an anomaly. Schuyler’s writings, however, force us to broaden and rethink our political and cultural conceptions. At times misguided, at times prophetic, his work expands our understanding of black intellectual thought in the twentieth century.
The Editor: Jeffrey B. Leak is assistant professor of African American literature at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has published articles and reviews in Callaloo, African American Review, and The Oxford Companion to African American Literature.
Dr. Seuss's classic character the Lorax has delighted children for decades while passing along a powerful message about environmental responsibility. The book's young readers, and their parents, would likely be surprised by the emergence of a new character, Truax, a kindly logger created by a longtime employee of the wood products industry, who, not surprisingly, has a far different viewpoint to share. Yet the Truax character, and the book of the same name, is just one example of a growing genre of conservative-themed narratives for young readers spawned by the continuing strength of the American political right.
Highlighting the works of William Bennett, Lynne Cheney, Bill O'Reilly, and others, Michelle Ann Abate brings together such diverse fields as cultural studies, literary criticism, political science, childhood studies, brand marketing, and the cult of celebrity. Raising Your Kids Right dispels lingering societal attitudes that narratives for young readers are unworthy of serious political study by examining a variety of texts that offer information, ideology, and even instructions on how to raise kids right, not just figuratively but politically.
Do you ever wonder why conservative pundits drop the word “faggot” or talk about killing and then Christianizing Muslims abroad? Do you wonder why the right’s spokespeople seem so confrontational, rude, and over-the-top recently? Does it seem strange that conservative books have such apocalyptic titles? Do you marvel at why conservative writers trumpeted the “rebel” qualities of George W. Bush just a few years back?
There is no doubt that the style of the political right today is tough, brash, and by many accounts, not very conservative sounding. After all, isn’t conservatism supposed to be about maintaining standards, upholding civility, and frowning upon rebellion? Historian Kevin Mattson explains the apparent contradictions of the party in this fresh examination of the postwar conservative mind. Examining a big cast of characters that includes William F. Buckley, Whittaker Chambers, Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, Kevin Phillips, David Brooks, and others, Mattson shows how right-wing intellectuals have always, but in different ways, played to the populist and rowdy tendencies in America’s political culture. He boldly compares the conservative intellectual movement to the radical utopians among the New Left of the 1960s and he explains how conservatism has ingested central features of American culture, including a distrust of sophistication and intellectualism and a love of popular culture, sensation, shock, and celebrity.
Both a work of history and political criticism, Rebels All! shows how the conservative mind made itself appealing, but also points to its endemic problems. Mattson’s conclusion outlines how a recast liberalism should respond to the conservative ascendancy that has marked our politics for the last thirty years.
In the 1920s, cultural and political reactions to the Red Scare in America contributed to a marked shift in the way Americans thought about sexuality, womanhood, manhood, and family life. The Russian Revolution prompted anxious Americans sensing a threat to social order to position heterosexuality, monogamy, and the family as a bulwark against radicalism.
In her probing and engaging book, Red War on the Family, Erica Ryan traces the roots of sexual modernism and the history of antiradicalism and antifeminism. She illuminates how Americans responded to foreign and domestic threats and expressed nationalism by strengthening traditional gender and family roles-especially by imposing them on immigrant groups, workers, women, and young people.
Ryan argues that the environment of political conformity in the 1920s was maintained in part through the quest for cultural and social conformity, exemplified by white, middle-class family life. Red War on the Family charts the ways Americanism both reinforced and was reinforced by these sexual and gender norms in the decades after World War I.
Not long ago, Republicans could take pride in their party’s tradition of environmental leadership. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the GOP helped to create the Environmental Protection Agency, extend the Clean Air Act, and protect endangered species. Today, as Republicans denounce climate change as a “hoax” and seek to dismantle the environmental regulatory state they worked to build, we are left to wonder: What happened?
In The Republican Reversal, James Morton Turner and Andrew C. Isenberg show that the party’s transformation began in the late 1970s, with the emergence of a new alliance of pro-business, libertarian, and anti-federalist voters. This coalition came about through a concerted effort by politicians and business leaders, abetted by intellectuals and policy experts, to link the commercial interests of big corporate donors with states’-rights activism and Main Street regulatory distrust. Fiscal conservatives embraced cost-benefit analysis to counter earlier models of environmental policy making, and business tycoons funded think tanks to denounce federal environmental regulation as economically harmful, constitutionally suspect, and unchristian, thereby appealing to evangelical views of man’s God-given dominion of the Earth.
As Turner and Isenberg make clear, the conservative abdication of environmental concern stands out as one of the most profound turnabouts in modern American political history, critical to our understanding of the GOP’s modern success. The Republican reversal on the environment is emblematic of an unwavering faith in the market, skepticism of scientific and technocratic elites, and belief in American exceptionalism that have become the party’s distinguishing characteristics.
This work presents analyses by experts on the rise of anew tide of conservative governments in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain in an attempt to find what, if any, common ideologies and programs unite them, with what results, in terms of institutional change and policy direction, have been, and what are the prospects for permanent change.
With engaging wit and subtle irony, Albert Hirschman maps the diffuse and treacherous world of reactionary rhetoric in which conservative public figures, thinkers, and polemicists have been arguing against progressive agendas and reforms for the past two hundred years.
Hirschman draws his examples from three successive waves of reactive thought that arose in response to the liberal ideas of the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, to democratization and the drive toward universal suffrage in the nineteenth century, and to the welfare state in our own century. In each case he identifies three principal arguments invariably used: (1) the perversity thesis, whereby any action to improve some feature of the political, social, or economic order is alleged to result in the exact opposite of what was intended; (2) the futility thesis, which predicts that attempts at social transformation will produce no effects whatever—will simply be incapable of making a dent in the status quo; (3) the jeopardy thesis, holding that the cost of the proposed reform is unacceptable because it will endanger previous hard-won accomplishments. He illustrates these propositions by citing writers across the centuries from Alexis de Tocqueville to George Stigler, Herbert Spencer to Jay Forrester, Edmund Burke to Charles Murray. Finally, in a lightning turnabout, he shows that progressives are frequently apt to employ closely related rhetorical postures, which are as biased as their reactionary counterparts. For those who aspire to the genuine dialogue that characterizes a truly democratic society, Hirschman points out that both types of rhetoric function, in effect, as contraptions designed to make debate impossible. In the process, his book makes an original contribution to democratic thought.
The Rhetoric of Reaction is a delightful handbook for all discussions of public affairs, the welfare state, and the history of social, economic, and political thought, whether conducted by ordinary citizens or academics.
Often considered a lost decade, a pause between the liberal Sixties and Reagan’s Eighties, the 1970s were indeed a watershed era when the forces of a conservative counter-revolution cohered. These years marked a significant moral and cultural turning point in which the conservative movement became the motive force driving politics for the ensuing three decades.
Interpreting the movement as more than a backlash against the rampant liberalization of American culture, racial conflict, the Vietnam War, and Watergate, these provocative and innovative essays look below the surface, discovering the tectonic shifts that paved the way for Reagan’s America. They reveal strains at the heart of the liberal coalition, resulting from struggles over jobs, taxes, and neighborhood reconstruction, while also investigating how the deindustrialization of northern cities, the rise of the suburbs, and the migration of people and capital to the Sunbelt helped conservatism gain momentum in the twentieth century. They demonstrate how the forces of the right coalesced in the 1970s and became, through the efforts of grassroots activists and political elites, a movement to reshape American values and policies.
A penetrating and provocative portrait of a critical decade in American history, Rightward Bound illuminates the seeds of both the successes and the failures of the conservative revolution. It helps us understand how, despite conservatism’s rise, persistent tensions remain today between its political power and the achievements of twentieth-century liberalism.
In the years following the election of Donald Trump—a victory that hinged on the votes of white Midwesterners who were both geographically and culturally distant from the media’s coastal concentrations—there has been a flurry of investigation into the politics of the so-called “common man.” The notion that the salt-of-the-earth purity implied by this appellation is best understood by conservative politicians is no recent development, though. As Antti Lepistö shows in his timely and erudite book, the intellectual wellsprings of conservative “common sense” discourse are both older and more transnational than has been thought.
In considering the luminaries of American neoconservative thought—among them Irving Kristol, Gertrude Himmelfarb, James Q. Wilson, and Francis Fukuyama—Lepistö argues that the centrality of their conception of the common man accounts for the enduring power and influence of their thought. Intriguingly, Lepistö locates the roots of this conception in the eighteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment, revealing how leading neoconservatives weaponized the ideas of Adam Smith, Thomas Reid, and David Hume to denounce postwar liberal elites, educational authorities, and social reformers. Their reconfiguration of Scottish Enlightenment ideas ultimately gave rise to a defining force in modern conservative politics: the common sense of the common man. Whether twenty-first-century politicians who invoke the grievances of “the people” are conscious of this unusual lineage or not, Lepistö explains both the persistence of the trope and the complicity of some conservative thinkers with the Trump regime.
When Democrats in the House of Representatives locked horns with President Ronald Reagan over the latter’s fiscal policies, the ensuing conflict reinforced the seismic shift in the political landscape that the 1980 election had brought. Karl Brandt now tells the story of how the New Deal Democratic coalition was able to sustain itself in the face of an unprecedented Republican assault—in a conflict whose reverberations are still being felt today.
After a bipartisan conservative House coalition passed Reagan’s budget and tax cuts in 1981, conservative Democrats became worried about the increasingly large deficits produced by Reaganomics and questioned the administration’s spending priorities. In one of the few studies of congressional politics in the 1980s, Brandt describes the House Democratic leadership’s efforts to rebuild party unity while facing challenges from conservative Democrats, the Reagan administration, and the emerging fiscal crisis. He tells how Democrats worked hard to rein in party conservatives, to craft consensus-oriented policies palatable to all Democrats, and over the coming years to force the president and the Senate to compromise over fiscal policy.
Drawing on primary source materials unavailable in the 1980s—including transcripts from closed-door meetings and internal House documents—Brandt chronicles the events that resulted in the deepening of the fiscal crisis, examines the growth of an intensely partisan political environment, and provides insight into the dynamics of creating a national budget. He cuts through conservative rhetoric to show how Reagan’s fiscal policies deepened federal deficits and reveals how the partisan struggles of the Reagan years redefined the Democrats along more centrist lines.
When the dust had settled, the Democratic Party had become more unified in the face of budget conflict and had proved that it could practice fiscal conservatism and make tough budget choices when necessary. Carefully argued and thoroughly researched, Brandt’s work brings historical perspective to this important chapter in recent history as it explores conflicting visions of the economy, American society, and the very future of the nation.
Listed as one of the Reno News & Review's "New Books from Nevada Authors," December 29, 2021
The grazing rights battle between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government, resulting in a tense, armed standoff between Bundy’s supporters and federal law enforcement officers, garnered international media attention in 2014. Saints, Sinners, and Sovereign Citizens places the Bundy conflict into the larger context of the Sagebrush Rebellion and the long struggle over the use of federal public lands in the American West.
Author John L. Smith skillfully captures the drama of the Bundy legal tangle amid the current political climate. Although no shots were fired during the standoff itself, just weeks later self-proclaimed Bundy supporters murdered two Las Vegas police officers and a civilian. In Eastern Oregon, other Bundy supporters occupied the federal offices of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and one of them died in a hail of bullets.
While examining the complex history of federal public land policies, Smith exposes both sides of this story. He shows that there are passionate true believers on opposite sides of the insurrection, along with government agents and politicians in Washington complicit in efforts to control public lands for their wealthy allies and campaign contributors. With the promise of billions of dollars in natural resource profits and vast tracts of environmentally sensitive lands hanging in the balance, the West’s latest range war is the most important in the nation’s history. This masterful exposé raises serious questions about the fate of America’s public lands and the vehement arguments that are framing the debate from all sides.
Much like today, the early twentieth century was a period of rising economic inequality and political polarization in America. But it was also an era of progressive reform—a time when the Russell Sage Foundation and other philanthropic organizations were established to promote social science as a way to solve the crises of industrial capitalism. In Social Science for What? Alice O'Connor relates the history of philanthropic social science, exploring its successes and challenges over the years, and asking how these foundations might continue to promote progressive social change in our own politically divided era. The philanthropic foundations established in the early 1900s focused on research which, while intended to be objective, was also politically engaged. In addition to funding social science research, in its early years the Russell Sage Foundation also supported social work and advocated reforms on issues from child welfare to predatory lending. This reformist agenda shaped the foundation's research priorities and methods. The Foundation's landmark Pittsburgh Survey of wage labor, conducted in 1907-1908, involved not only social scientists but leaders of charities, social workers, and progressive activists, and was designed not simply to answer empirical questions, but to reframe the public discourse about industrial labor. After World War II, many philanthropic foundations disengaged from political struggles and shifted their funding toward more value-neutral, academic social inquiry, in the belief that disinterested research would yield more effective public policies. Consequently, these foundations were caught off guard in the 1970s and 1980s by the emergence of a network of right-wing foundations, which was successful in promoting an openly ideological agenda. In order to counter the political in-roads made by conservative organizations, O'Connor argues that progressive philanthropic research foundations should look to the example of their founders. While continuing to support the social science research that has contributed so much to American society over the past 100 years, they should be more direct about the values that motivate their research. In this way, they will help foster a more democratic dialogue on important social issues by using empirical knowledge to engage fundamentally ethical concerns about rising inequality. O'Connor's message is timely: public-interest social science faces unprecedented challenges in this era of cultural warfare, as both liberalism and science itself have come under assault. Social Science for What? is a thought-provoking critique of the role of social science in improving society and an indispensable guide to how progressives can reassert their voice in the national political debate. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Centennial Series
The McCarthy-era witch hunts marked the culmination of an anticommunist crusade launched after the First World War. With Bolshevism triumphant in Russia and public discontent shaking the United States, conservatives at every level of government and business created a network dedicated to sweeping away the "spider web" of radicalism they saw threatening the nation. In this groundbreaking study, Nick Fischer shines a light on right-wing activities during the interwar period. Conservatives, eager to dispel communism's appeal to the working class, railed against a supposed Soviet-directed conspiracy composed of socialists, trade unions, peace and civil liberties groups, feminists, liberals, aliens, and Jews. Their rhetoric and power made for devastating weapons in their systematic war for control of the country against progressive causes. But, as Fischer shows, the term spider web far more accurately described the anticommunist movement than it did the makeup and operations of international communism. Fischer details how anticommunist myths and propaganda influenced mainstream politics in America, and how its ongoing efforts paved the way for the McCarthyite Fifties--and augured the conservative backlash that would one day transform American politics.
Since the 1970s, American society has provided especially fertile ground for the growth of the Christian right and its influence on both political and cultural discourse. In Stations of the Cross political theorist Paul Apostolidis shows how a critical component of this movement’s popular culture—evangelical conservative radio—interacts with the current U.S. political economy. By examining in particular James Dobson’s enormously influential program, Focus on the Family—its messages, politics, and effects—Apostolidis reveals the complex nature of contemporary conservative religious culture. Public ideology and institutional tendencies clash, the author argues, in the restructuring of the welfare state, the financing of the electoral system, and the backlash against women and minorities. These frictions are nowhere more apparent than on Christian right radio. Reinvigorating the intellectual tradition of the Frankfurt School, Apostolidis shows how ideas derived from early critical theory—in particular that of Theodor W. Adorno—can illuminate the political and social dynamics of this aspect of contemporary American culture. He uses and reworks Adorno’s theories to interpret the nationally broadcast Focus on the Family, revealing how the cultural discourse of the Christian right resonates with recent structural transformations in the American political economy. Apostolidis shows that the antidote to the Christian right’s marriage of religious and market fundamentalism lies not in a reinvocation of liberal fundamentals, but rather depends on a patient cultivation of the affinities between religion’s utopian impulses and radical, democratic challenges to the present political-economic order. Mixing critical theory with detailed analysis, Stations of the Cross provides a needed contribution to sociopolitical studies of mass movements and will attract readers in sociology, political science, philosophy, and history.
The cocreator of the Washington Post’s “Made by History” blog reveals how the rise of conservative talk radio gave us a Republican Party incapable of governing and paved the way for Donald Trump.
America’s long road to the Trump presidency began on August 1, 1988, when, desperate for content to save AM radio, top media executives stumbled on a new format that would turn the political world upside down. They little imagined that in the coming years their brainchild would polarize the country and make it nearly impossible to govern. Rush Limbaugh, an enormously talented former disc jockey—opinionated, brash, and unapologetically conservative—pioneered a pathbreaking infotainment program that captured the hearts of an audience no media executive knew existed. Limbaugh’s listeners yearned for a champion to punch back against those maligning their values. Within a decade, this format would grow from fifty-nine stations to over one thousand, keeping millions of Americans company as they commuted, worked, and shouted back at their radios. The concept pioneered by Limbaugh was quickly copied by cable news and digital media.
Radio hosts form a deep bond with their audience, which gives them enormous political power. Unlike elected representatives, however, they must entertain their audience or watch their ratings fall. Talk radio boosted the Republican agenda in the 1990s, but two decades later, escalation in the battle for the airwaves pushed hosts toward ever more conservative, outrageous, and hyperbolic content.
Donald Trump borrowed conservative radio hosts’ playbook and gave Republican base voters the kind of pugnacious candidate they had been demanding for decades. By 2016, a political force no one intended to create had completely transformed American politics.
The Transformation of the Christian Right chronicles and analyzes the remarkable changes that have occurred in the Christian Right from its emergence in the late 1970s to the present. It documents the rapid turnover of Christian-Right organizations and explains the forces driving that kaleidoscopic change. Moen also traces the strategic shift of the movement’s leaders, away from lobbying the Congress and toward mobilizing conservative activists in the grass roots; he demonstrates the substitution of liberal language (with its emphasis on “equality, rights, and freedom”) for moralistic language (with its focus on “right and wrong”). Much has been written about the Christian Right’s impact on politics but little about how years of political activism have shaped and influenced the Christian Right. Moen addresses that neglected side of the issue.
In this unique study, Ethan R. Yorgason examines the Mormon "culture region" of the American West, which in the late nineteenth century was characterized by sexual immorality, communalism, and anti-Americanism but is now marked by social conservatism. Foregrounding the concept of region, Yorgason traces the conformist-conservative trajectory that arose from intense moral and ideological clashes between Mormons and non-Mormons from 1880 to 1920. Looking through the lenses of regional geography, history, and cultural studies, Yorgason investigates shifting moral orders relating to gender authority, economic responsibility, and national loyalty, community, and home life.
Transformation of the Mormon Culture Region charts how Mormons and non-Mormons resolved their cultural contradictions over time by a progressive narrowing of the range of moral positions on gender (in favor of Victorian gender relations), the economy (in favor of individual economics), and the nation (identifying with national power and might). Mormons and non-Mormons together constructed a regime of effective coexistence while retaining regional distinctiveness.
Ever since the reelection of President Bush, conservative Christians have been stereotyped in the popular media: Bible-thumping militants and anti-intellectual zealots determined to impose their convictions on such matters as evolution, school prayer, pornography, abortion, and homosexuality on the rest of us. But conservative Christians are not as fanatical or intractable as many people think, nor are they necessarily the monolithic voting block or political base that kept Bush in power.
Andrew M. Greeley and Michael Hout's eye-opening book expertly conveys the complexity, variety, and sensibilities of conservative Christians, dispelling the myths that have long shrouded them in prejudice and political bias. For starters, Greeley and Hout reveal that class and income have trumped moral issues for these Americans more often than we realize: a dramatic majority of working-class and lower-class conservative Christians backed liberals such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton during their runs for president. And when it comes to abortion, most conservative Christians are not consistently pro-life in the absolute fashion usually assumed: they are still more likely to oppose the practice than other Americans, but 86 percent of them are willing to tolerate it to protect the health of the mother or when the woman has been raped, and 22 percent of them are even pro-choice.
What do conservative Christians really think about evolution, homosexuality, or even the meaning of the word of God? Answering these questions and more, The Truth about Conservative Christians will interest—and surprise—a broad range of readers, especially in this heated election year.
The first book-length interpretation of the new conservative leaders of America's largest Protestant denomination
Uneasy in Babylon is based on extensive interviews with the most important Southern Baptist conservatives who have assumed control of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Known to many Americans from their appearances on national TV talk shows, such as Larry King Live and Fox News, they advocate a return to traditional values throughout the country. Hankins shows how differing cultural perceptions help explain the great chasm that developed between fundamentalists in the SBC and the moderates who preceded them as leaders of the denomination.
The Vision of the Soul
James Matthew Wilson Catholic University of America Press, 2017 Library of Congress BH39.W555 2017 | Dewey Decimal 111.85
Ours is an age full of desires but impoverished in its understanding of where those desires lead—an age that claims mastery over the world but also claims to find the world as a whole absurd or unintelligible. In The Vision of the Soul, James Matthew Wilson seeks to conserve the great insights of the western tradition by giving us a new account of them responsive to modern discontents. The western— or Christian Platonist—tradition, he argues, tells us that man is an intellectual animal, born to pursue the good, to know the true, and to contemplate all things in beauty. Wilson begins by reconceiving the intellectual conservatism born of Edmund Burke’s jeremiad against the French Revolution as an effort to preserve the West’s vision of man and the cosmos as ordered by and to beauty. After defining the achievement of that vision and its tradition, Wilson offers an extended study of the nature of beauty and the role of the fine arts in shaping a culture but above all in opening the human intellect to the perception of the form of reality. Through close studies of Theodor W. Adorno and Jacques Maritain, he recovers the classical vision of beauty as a revelation of truth and being. Finally, he revisits the ancient distinction between reason and story-telling, between mythos and logos, in order to rejoin the two.
Story-telling is foundational to the forms of the fine arts, but it is no less foundational to human reason. Human life in turn constitutes a specific kind of form—a story form. The ancient conception of human life as a pilgrimage to beauty itself is one that we can fully embrace only if we see the essential correlation between reason and story and the essential convertibility of truth, goodness and beauty in beauty. By turns a study in fundamental ontology, aesthetics, and political philosophy, Wilson’s book invites its readers to a renewal of the West’s intellectual tradition.
Ezra Taft Benson is perhaps the most controversial apostle-president in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For nearly fifty years he delivered impassioned sermons in Utah and elsewhere, mixing religion with ultraconservative right-wing political views and conspiracy theories. His teachings inspired Mormon extremists to stockpile weapons, predict the end of the world, and commit acts of violence against their government. The First Presidency rebuked him, his fellow apostles wanted him disciplined, and grassroots Mormons called for his removal from the Quorum of the Twelve. Yet Benson was beloved by millions of Latter-day Saints, who praised him for his stances against communism, socialism, and the welfare state, and admired his service as secretary of agriculture under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Using previously restricted documents from archives across the United States, Matthew L. Harris breaks new ground as the first to evaluate why Benson embraced a radical form of conservatism, and how under his leadership Mormons became the most reliable supporters of the Republican Party of any religious group in America.
The modern-day Renaissance man who
built the conservative movement
The polysyllabic vocabulary, the wit, the charm, the sailing adventures, the spy novels—all of these have become part of the William F. Buckley Jr. legend. But to consider only Buckley’s charisma and ceaseless energy is to miss that, above all, he was committed to advancing ideas.
Now, noted conservative historian Lee Edwards, who knew Bill Buckley for more than 40 years, delivers a much-needed intellectual biography of the man who has been called “the most important public intellectual in the United States in the past half century.” In this concise and compelling book, Edwards reveals how Buckley did more to build the conservative movement than did any other person. Once derided as a set of “irritable mental gestures,” conservatism became, under Buckley’s guidance, a political and intellectual force that transformed America.
As conservatives debate the ideas that should drive their movement, William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement reminds us of the principles that animated Buckley, as well as the thinkers who inspired him. Having dug deep into the voluminous Buckley papers, Edwards also illuminates the profound influence of Buckley’s close-knit family and his unwavering Catholic faith.
Edwards brilliantly captures the free spirit and unbounded energy of the conservative polymath, but he also shows that Buckley did not succeed merely on the strength of a winning personality. Rather, Buckley’s achievements were the result of a long series of quite deliberate political acts—many of them overlooked today.
William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement tells the incredible story of a man who could have been a playboy, sailing his yacht and skiing in Switzerland, but who chose to be the St. Paul of the conservative movement, carrying the message far and wide. Lee Edwards shows how and why it happened—and the remarkable results.
In Wives, Mothers, and the Red Menace, Mary Brennan examines conservative women's anti-communist activism in the years immediately after World War II.
Brennan details the actions and experiences of prominent anti-communists Jean Kerr McCarthy, Margaret Chase Smith, Freda Utley, Doloris Thauwald Bridges, Elizabeth Churchill Brown, and Phyllis Stewart Schlafly. She describes the Cold War context in which these women functioned and the ways in which women saw communism as a very real danger to domestic security and American families. Millions of women, Brennan notes, expanded their notions of household responsibilities to include the crusade against communism. From writing letters and hosting teas to publishing books and running for political office, they campaigned against communism and, incidentally, discovered the power they had to effect change through activism.
Brennan reveals how the willingness of these deeply conservative women to leave the domestic sphere and engage publicly in politics evinces the depth of America's postwar fear of communism. She further argues that these conservative, anti-communist women pushed the boundaries of traditional gender roles and challenged assumptions about women as political players by entering political life to publicly promote their ideals.Wives, Mothers, and the Red Menace offers a fascinating analysis of gender and politics at a critical point in American history. Brennan's work will instigate discussions among historians, political scientists, and scholars of women's studies.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Saar river valley was one of the three most productive heavy industrial regions in Germany and one of the main reference points for national debates over the organization of work in large-scale industry. Among Germany's leading opponents of trade unions, Saar employers were revered for their system of factory organization, which was both authoritarian and paternalistic, stressing discipline and punitive measures and seeking to regulate behavior on and off the job. In its repressive and beneficent dimensions, the Saar system provided a model for state labor and welfare policy during much of the 1880s and 1890s.
Dennis Sweeney examines the relationship between labor relations in heavy industry and public life in the Saar as a means of tracing some of the wider political-ideological changes of the era. Focusing on the changing discourses, representations, and institutions that gave shape and meaning to factory work and labor conflict in the Saar, Work, Race, and the Emergence of Radical Right Corporatism in Imperial Germany demonstrates the ways in which Saar factory culture and labor relations were constituted in wider fields of public discourse and anchored in the institutions of the local-regional public sphere and the German state. Of particular importance is the gradual transition in the Saar from a paternalistic workplace to a corporatist factory regime, a change that brought with it an authoritarian vision that ultimately converged with core elements in the ideological discourses of the German radical Right, including the National Socialists. This volume will be of interest to scholars and students of labor, industrial organization, ideology and political culture, and the genealogies of Nazism.
Dennis Sweeney is Associate Professor of History at the University of Alberta.
"The author makes a very insightful argument about the emergence of a kind of scientific racism within the new corporatism, one that brings biopolitics into German industry prior to the rise of National Socialism. This book will be an important contribution to the history of Imperial Germany, and has much potential to appeal to audiences in other fields of history."
---Andrew Zimmerman, George Washington University