Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism--From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond

Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism--From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond

“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.

Title:Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism--From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond
ISBN:9781476763798
Format Type:

    Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism--From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond Reviews

  • Hadrian

    This is a daring investigation into the American politics of resentment. The author is a left-wing Catholic, but he respects and empathizes with some aspects of conservatism - at least in the Burkean ...

  • Joe

    "Our current political turmoil and the ongoing discontent on the right grows out of this essential fact: Reagan changed the terms of the American political debate without changing the underlying struc...

  • Chuck

    5-starsI’m on my third reading of this one. Two words: information overload! And it’s not a polemic, either, but rather just a good history of the last 50-60 years of the GOP and how it came to be...

  • Peter Mcloughlin

    Fairly balanced assessment of the far right from a center left politico. As with most books on politics it will probably have a shelf life of two weeks. Anyone who is not a movement conservative aka a...

  • Danielle DeVane Wells

    The title of this book, while catchy and enticing [to some]) may not represent the spirit in which this book seems to be written. From the title I would assume it's meant as a negative bashing of poli...

  • Book

    Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism--From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond by E.J. Dionne“Why the Right Went Wrong” is an astutely written historical view of the America right since the 19...

  • Ian Vance

    What a time for nervous schadenfreude among left-leaning survivors! Beneath the wailing and gnashing of teeth of the Conservative Entertainment Complex, a certain wary acknowledgement and despair lurk...

  • Alger

    One cannot blame Dionne for being far more objective and critically reliable about events before his own life in politics than he is about the current situation (being the 2016 election and the rise o...

  • John Kaufmann

    E.J. Dionne is a respected columnist on national politics. His main premise is that conservative movement has become more and more ideologically extreme and “pure” over the years. As a result they...

  • Rk Wild

    Pretty much nails the Goldwater/Bircher origin story of today's Republican Party, with plenty of detail to flesh out the choices made and not made along the way. Pretty sophisticated stuff.And, then, ...