White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement

White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement

by Allan J. Lichtman

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Spanning nearly one hundred years of American political history, and abounding with outsize characters—from Lindbergh to Goldwater to Gingrich to Abramoff— White Protestant Nation offers a penetrating look at the origins, evolution, and triumph (at times) of modern conservatism. Lichtman is both a professor of political history at American University and a veteran journalist, and after ten years of prodigious research, he has produced what may be the definitive history of the modern conservative movement in America. He brings to life a gallery of dynamic right-wing personalities, from luminaries such as Strom Thurmond, Phyllis Schlafly, and Bill Kristol to indispensable inside operators like financiers Frank Gannett and J. Howard Pew. He explodes the conventional wisdom that modern conservative politics began with Goldwater and instead traces the roots of today’s movement to the 1920s. And he lays bare the tactics that conservatives have used for generations to put their slant on policy and culture; to choke the growth of the liberal state; and to build the most powerful media, fundraising, and intellectual network in the history of representative government. White Protestant Nation is entertaining, provocative, enlightening, and essential reading for anyone who cares about modern American politics and its history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802144201
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 05/06/2009
Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
Pages: 608
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.60(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 The Birth of the Modern Right, 1920-1928 8

2 Crying in the Wilderness, 1929-1936 50

3 Up from the Ashes, 1936-1945 93

4 The Best and the Worst Years for Conservatives, 1945-1952 136

5 Strangers in a Modern Republican Land, 1952-1960 184

6 Conservatives Fall, Rise, and Fall Again, 1960-1968 232

7 The Right Rebuilds in Adversity, 1969-1976 281

8 The Reagan Revolution, 1977-1984 330

9 Restoring the Conservative Consensus, 1985-2000 379

Epilogue: A Conservative Implosion? 436

Acknowledgments 457

Appendix 459

Notes 461

Bibliography 527

Index 561

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White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
bruchu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Shifting Faces of American ConservatismOne of the most comprehensive volumes I've come across on the origins and rise of modern American conservatism. "White Protestant Nation" chronicles the arc of the conservative movement from its Protestant beginnings during the progressive era through to the George Bush era. The book is probably more political history than social history, but Lichtman dabbles into some of the cultural influences here and there.The central thesis of the book is this: "[C]onservatives have engaged in a struggle for control over American public life against a liberal tradition they have seen as not just wrong on issues but sinful, un-American, and corrosive of the institutions and traditions that made the nation great.... Lichtman concludes that conservative ideology is grounded not in specific issues... most of which are disposable ideas that the right has been quick to embrace or reject to suit the needs of the moment - but rather a dual vision of America as a White Protestant nation, and a country whose greatness is driven by private enterprise." (p. 6)I'd like to point out a couple of points that serves Lichtman's arguments.Early beginnings: The highly influential Protestant middle-class reformers of the social gospel movement had the moral authority (Addams, etc) but these early conservatives felt social reform was a trap that led to secularism rather than the salvation of America's puritan roots.Anti-communism: Conservatives are usually thought to be for laissez-faire, limited government. But in the fight against "communist sin", conservatives often lobbied for bigger and more invasive government than ever before to fight it.Barry Goldwater: Despite Goldwater's grassroots appeal, the ultimate failure of Goldwater in 1964 was blamed on his "irresponsible extremism" and inability to unite the various factions of conservatism under the Republican party banner during the high point of the liberal consensus.K Street: While liberals were busy fornicating at Woodstock and dropping acid, conservatives were organizing, fund-raising, and creating the most successful lobby institutions in the world. The early beginnings were the John Birch Society, Young Americans for Freedom and led to the Heritage Society and the American Enterprise Institute. The early founders were Daniel Bell, James Burnham, Irving Kristol, William Buckley, etc...After Watergate: The real driving force behind the rise of evangelicalism ironically after Republican Tricky Dickie Nixon. They overwhelmingly went for the socially liberal but devout Jimmy Carter in 1976 over Ford. Another interesting aside Lichtman points out is the Reverend Moon from South Korea who poured tens of millions into conservative coffers to support anti-communism, social conservatism, etc...The Moral Majority of 1980: Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson's "invisible army," the rise of the TV evangelicals and the "fourth great awakening" that aligned with Reagan who was more socially liberal than he was conservative. Conservatives saw this "deal with the devil" as necessary in order to give him the majority to finally triumph and reverse the legacies of FDR and LBJ.Gingrich Revolution: The dream realized, the uniting of white Protestants entrenching themselves as the conservative base within the GOP. The marriage of big business and Christian moralists. The launching of viscous attacks on Clinton and the Lewinsky affair despite two-thirds approval ratings. And finally the rise of George W Bush.Culture Wars: As mentioned, the book is light on social and cultural history, but Lichtman does a good job outlining the major characters and movements. From the influential second generation neocons such as Bill Kristol, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and many others.Ultimately, the anti-pluralist vision of conservatism attempts to reconcile the contradictions through a self-righteousness based on the doctrinal authority of a Christian God. Unlike pluralist