Synopses & Reviews
To many observers, the 2008 elections augured the end of the conservative era in American politics. Buoyed by a reaction against Great Society liberalism and the Republican Party's shrewd race-based Southern Strategy, the modern conservative movement first enjoyed success in the late 1960s. By the 1980s, the movement had captured the White House. And in the early 2000s conservatives scaled the summit as a conservative true believer, George W. Bush, won two presidential elections - and the Republican Party captured both houses of Congress. But currently they have few credible presidential prospects. Today's most recognizable Republican, Sarah Palin, is regarded by most of the electorate as an ill-informed extremist. And the Democrats have commanding majorities in both the Senate and the House.
What happened? The Crisis of Conservatism gathers a broad range of leading scholars of conservatism to assess the current state of the movement and where it is most likely headed in the near future. Featuring both empirical essays that analyze the reasons for the movement's current parlous state and more normative essays that offer new directions for the movement, the book is a comprehensive account of contemporary conservatism at its nadir. Throughout, the editors and the contributors focus on three issues. The first is the extent to which the terrain of American politics remains favorable to the Republican Party and conservative causes, notwithstanding the Obama victory of 2008. The second is the strategic ability of the Republicans and the wider conservative movement to renew their strength after the shattering experience of the past few years. The third issue they focus on is the extent to which conservative attitudes and values, policy preferences and impulses of the period since 1980 have in fact created a new consensus, one which the Obama administration will find it difficult to escape, regardless of his change rhetoric. They conclude that if conservatism does in fact remain a powerful shaper of the electorate's values, then the American right could very well reconfigure itself and begin the journey back to credibility and power.
"Crisis of Conservatism? is a remarkable compilation of empirical analysis and philosophical, historical, and practical perspectives on American conservatism. I know of no other volume that provides as rich and varied a perspective as this one does. For those who want to know about the American Right, this outstanding collection is virtually one-stop shopping."--Bert A. Rockman, Professor of Political Science, Purdue University
"Crisis of Conservatism? is a book of our age, capturing the empowering and crippling symbiosis of Republican electoral maneuvering and conservative policy advocacy. An impressive collection of advocates and scholars trace the cycles of Republican success in mobilizing conservative voters and the conservative disillusionment that often follows. Liberals and independent analysts will find much to learn about the sources of conservatism's staying power--its substantial investments in generating new policies, crafting strategically attuned messages, and infusing them in federated organizations throughout the country."--Lawrence R. Jacobs, Chair for Political Studies, University of Minnesota, and co-author of The Unsustainable American State
Crisis of Conservatism? assesses the status of American conservatism--its politics, its allies in the Republican Party, and the struggle for the soul of the conservative movement that became especially acute with the controversial policies of the Bush administration and Republican losses in the 2006 and 2008 elections. What do different types of conservatives believe? How much do they have in common? How strong is the conservative movement in the United States, and what impact does it have on the Republican Party? To what degree do conservative ideas represent the mainstream of political beliefs in the United States? In short, is there the crisis of conservatism that some thought apparent as a result of the administration of George W. Bush?
The book's contributors, a broad array of leading scholars of conservatism, identify a range of tensions in the conservative movement and the Republican Party, tensions over what conservatism is and should be, over what conservatives should do when in power, and over how conservatives should govern. Views differ a great deal, both between the public and conservative elite groups and among conservative elites themselves. These differences are balanced by the tendency of many in the general public to identify themselves as conservatives and by the vibrant intellectual life and vitality of conservative elites.
While the conservative movement remains beset by many problems and divisions, it has fundamental strengths. The Crisis of Conservatism? reveals the many varieties of conservatism and examines the internal conflicts, strengths and challenges that will define the movement in the future.
Crisis of Conservatism?
assesses the status of American conservatism--its politics, its allies in the Republican Party, and the struggle for the soul of the conservative movement. This struggle became especially acute with the controversial policies of the Bush administration and Republican losses in the 2006 and 2008 elections.
The book's contributors, a broad array of leading scholars of conservatism, identify a range of tensions in the conservative movement and the Republican Party, tensions over what conservatism is and should be, over what conservatives should do when in power, and over how conservatives should govern. While the conservative movement remains beset by many problems and divisions, it has fundamental strengths. Crisis of Conservatism? reveals the many varieties of conservatism and examines the internal conflicts, strengths and challenges that will define the movement in the future.
About the Author
Joel D. Aberbach
is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and Director of the Center for American Politics and Public Policy at the University of California-Los Angeles.
Gillian Peele is Fellow and Tutor in Politics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: The Ending of the Conservative Era?, Gillian Peele and Joel D. Aberbach
2. American Conservatism in Historical Perspective, Gillian Peele
3. The Future of the American Right: Evidence and Questions from the Bush Years, Joel D. Aberbach
4. The Future of the Republican Party, A. James Reichley
5. Stresses and Strains: Plus ca change" in the Parties and Voting, John R. Petrocik
6. The Christian Right and Contemporary Politics: A Movement at the Crossroads, Mark J. Rozell
7. Pro-Women, Pro-Palin, Antifeminist: Conservative Women and Conservative Movement Politics, Ronnee Schreiber
8. The Struggles of an 'Orthodox Innovator': George W. Bush, the Conservative Movement and Domestic Policy, Jon Herbert
9. Compassionate Conservatism, Domestic Policy and the Politics of Ideational Change, Steven Teles
10. Thoughts that Count? The GOP's Woes and the Work of Conservative Think Tanks, Pietro S. Nivola
11. Conservatives and the Courts, Michael Greve
12. Shaping a New Conservative Agenda, Michael Tanner
13. Conservatives and the American Economy, George A. (Sandy) Mackenzie
14. Contemporary Conservatism and Government Regulation, Christopher DeMuth
15. The McBama National Security Consensus and Republican Foreign Policy after the 2008 Election, Timothy J. Lynch
16. Past is Present: The Future of Republican Party Foreign Policy, Trevor B. McCrisken
17. Conservative Tensions and the Republican Future, Joel D. Aberbach and Gillian Peele