On the history of American conservatism and the Republican Party the correct historical narrative is that William F. Buckley Jr. started the conservative revival in 1955, when he founded National Review. In 1964 when the Republicans conservatives secured the nomination for Barry Goldwater the moderates in the party were marginalized.

In a new book Geoffrey Kabaservice (Rule and Ruin), of moderate republicanism, the case is made that modern Republicanism was hardier. Kabaservice acknowledges its eventual defeat but argues that Republican moderates remained a powerful, even dominant, political force well into the 1970s.

In his excellent The Age of Reagan – The Fall of the Old Liberal Order – 1964 – 1980 (2001) Steven F. Hayward has persuasively argued that Americans grew tired of the liberal agenda and in 1964 conservatives took over the Republican Party. Hayward brings new insight in the failure of Johnson’s Great Society, the significance of Reagan’s years as California’s governor, the listnessness of Jimmy Carter’s leadership (similar to that of Obama) and the political earthquake that was Reagan’s victorious presidential campaign in 1980.

Kabaservice admits that the Goldwater forces rolled over the moderates that year, with a fervor that the Tea Party would find difficult to match.

Hayward wrote: “In retrospect it is clear that 1964 witnessed the onset of liberalism’s decay, though it was difficult to perceive…The irony of the 1964 campaign is that although Goldwater was defined for all times by his “extremism” comment, the real extremism of the campaign was mostly on the Democratic side.” (pp. 49 – 50).

Then Congressman Bob Dole commented in Time after the Goldwater nomination in 1964:

“Goldwater’s victory anchors a party which has been adrift for some years. Now we can, in candor, go out and make speeches for spending cuts and sound conservative principles, certain that we won’t be undercut by the leaders of our party.” (p. 55).

To find the best and correct history of the decline of the moderates in the Republican Party and liberalism Hayward’s book is recommended. Geoffrey Kabaservice’s new Rule and Ruin – The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party: From Eisenhower to the Tea Party (2011) is pure disinformation.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: