Why the Right Went Wrong

Why the Right Went Wrong

Conservatism-- From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond

Book - 2016
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Baker & Taylor
A syndicated columnist for "The Washington Post" describes the history of the conservative right since the 1960s and discusses his belief that the Tea Party is the direct ideological descendant of the Goldwater movement.

& Taylor

A best-selling author and syndicated columnist for The Washington Post describes the history of the conservative right since the 1960s and discusses his belief that the Tea Party is the direct ideological descendant of the Goldwater movement.

Simon and Schuster
“Dionne's expertise is evident in this finely crafted and convincing work.” —The Los Angeles Times

From one of our most engaging political reporters and the author of Why Americans Hate Politics; the story of conservatism from the Goldwater 1960s to the present day Tea Party that has resulted in broken promises and an ideological purity that drives moderate Republicans away.

Why the Right Went Wrong offers a historical view of the right since the 1960s. Its core contention is that American conservatism and the Republican Party took a wrong turn when they adopted Barry Goldwater’s worldview during and after the 1964 campaign. The radicalism of today’s conservatism is not the product of the Tea Party, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne writes. The Tea Partiers are the true heirs to Goldwater ideology. The purity movement did more than drive moderates out of the Republican Party—it beat back alternative definitions of conservatism.

Since 1968, no conservative administration—not Nixon not Reagan not two Bushes—could live up to the rhetoric rooted in the Goldwater movement that began to reshape American politics fifty years ago. The collapse of the Nixon presidency led to the rise of Ronald Reagan, the defeat of George H.W. Bush, to Newt Gingrich’s revolution. Bush initially undertook a partial modernization, preaching “compassionate conservatism” and a “Fourth Way” to Clinton’s “Third Way.” Conservatives quickly defined him as an advocate of “big government” and not conservative enough on spending, immigration, education, and Medicare. A return to the true faith was the only prescription on order. The result was the Tea Party, which Dionne says, was as much a reaction to Bush as to Obama.

The state of the Republican party, controlled by the strictest base, is diminished, Dionne writes. It has become white and older in a country that is no longer that. It needs to come back to life for its own health and that of the country’s, and in Why the Right Went Wrong, he explains how.

Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, [2016]
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781476763798
Branch Call Number: 320.52 D622w
Characteristics: x, 532 pages ; 24 cm


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PimaLib_NormS Jan 31, 2018

Have you ever wondered how politics in this country became so contentious, dysfunctional, and gridlocked? I say, “Wonder no more!” EJ Dionne Jr. has written a highly informative and readable history of the divided state of American politics, entitled “Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism – From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond”. This book is quite helpful in understanding that what it means to be liberal, in a political sense, has not changed much since the days of FDR, but conservatism has changed, or evolved, from the conservatism defined by Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. Dionne examines conservatism in detail; however, this is not a hyperbolic liberal screed against Republicans or conservatives. Unlike much of what passes for political discourse in this country, he proves once again that it is possible to have a political viewpoint and still have the ability to speak or write about politics in a fair and balanced way (to coin a phrase). His writings, and commentaries on NPR, show that it is not necessary to verbally firebomb those with a different political outlook. “Why the Right Went Wrong” illustrates that in our great democracy, our elected leaders regard acts of negotiation and compromise as signs of weakness, not statesmanship. So, what happens when this is the case? Why, contention, dysfunction, and gridlock, of course.

Jul 27, 2016

A professor at Georgetown, syndicated columnist, and frequent guest on NPR, E.J. Dionne is one of America's preeminent political writers and commentators. Just in time for an election year, "Why the Right Went Wrong" traces the ideological history of conservatism, starting from Barry Goldwater's galvanizing 1964 candidacy ("Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.") through the Nixon years and Reagan victory up to the current, deeply divided moment. Not a great stylist, the book reads like a long newspaper column. But it offers a lot of valuable context, history, and quotes for both liberal and conservation alike. Other books on the subject I'd recommend are "The Reactionary Mind," "Exit Right," and anything by Thomas Frank and Rick Perlstein, who offer a more leftist/progressive point of view.

May 22, 2016

A valuable background book for this election year, comprehensive and up to date.

May 17, 2016

This is an excellent history of the rightward shift of the Republican Party from the days of Goldwater to Trump. Until the 60's, the Republican Party was mainly northern with a mix of conservatives, moderates, and liberals until the passing of the Civil Rights Laws initiated by President Johnson (upon which Southern Blacks were allowed to vote). The Dixicrats (Southern white Democrats) fled from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. Northern Blacks, slowly migrated from the Party of the Emancipator to the Democratic Party as they saw the racist Southern Whites taking over the Republican Party. The newly voting Southern Blacks became Democratic. Then the Tea Party (mostly older whites) slowly purged moderates from the party. Today the Republican Party is mainly a white senior male dominated party that wins elections largely by gerrymandering districts (winning 65% of the seats with 49% of the votes) and by instituting neo-Jim Crow voting laws to suppress “urban” (read non-white and young) voters.


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