Synopses & Reviews
Hailed as "perhaps the best scholarly overview of the conservative movement in print" (American Conservative
), Donald Critchlow's The Conservative Ascendancy
has depicted, as no other book has, the wild ride of the Republican Right. Newly updated and available for the first time in paperback, it continues to offer the best account of the conservative struggle to reverse the momentum of the New Deal.
In tracing the conservative revival, Critchlow chronicles how conservative beliefs were translated into political power. He shows how conservatives, from think tank theorists to grassroots mobilizers, gained control of the Republican party by defeating its liberal eastern wing only to find that the welfare state was not so easily dismantled. Looking back at the 1964 Goldwater debacle and the scandal-plagued Nixon years, he then revisits the triumph of the Reagan presidency and describes how George W. Bush injected into American politics a level of partisanship not seen since the nineteenth century.
Critchlow recounts the conflict between purity of principle and political practice for conservatives, and the dilemma of maintaining an anti-statist ideology in an era of mass democracy and Cold War hostilities. Throughout he delineates the intellectual foundations of the Right's positions—including the ongoing schism that separates social conservatives from libertarians—while plumbing America's increasing ideological divide.
This updated edition not only features a new preface and conclusion but also boasts an entirely new chapter covering the 2008 presidential election, the 2008 financial meltdown, the first two years of Obama's presidency, the emergence of the Tea Party, the 2010 midterms, and ongoing economic problems. Here Critchlow foresees a new epoch in which the old conservative-progressive divide is unable to address the problems caused by national debt, entitlement deficits, and a new global economy—a new reality sure to transform both parties.
As conservatives continue to wave the banners of limited government, individual responsibility, and free enterprise, Critchlow's book provides a clear guide to the country's most dynamic political movement and is essential reading for students and citizens alike as the political center continues to tack to the right.
Table of Contents
1. European Intellectuals and Conservative Firebrands
2. Triumph and Travail in 1964
3. Trust and Betrayal in the Nixon Years
4. The Power of Ideas and Institution
5. The Accident of History
6. Forward to the Promised Land
7. The Reagan Decade
8. Democrats Rebound
9. Americans Divided
10. Death and Resurrection of the GOP Right