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Rick Perlstein's new book on the history of modern American conservatism

 
 
blatham
 
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 10:48 am
Following his two earlier volumes of the history and evolution of modern American conservatism, "Before the Storm - Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus" and "Nixonland - the Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America", Rick's new book, "The Invisible Bridge" ((covering the period from Nixon to Reagan) is now available.

I've read the earlier two and will order this one up as soon as I'm done Corey Robin's "The Reactionary Mind" (very bright). Perlstein is one of the best young historians I've bumped into and I find his books a joy to read.

For a taste of the new volume's thesis and contents, here's a 12 minute interview with Dave Weigel http://slate.me/1qVosCQ and an extended excerpt via TPM http://bit.ly/1qQrcNk
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Type: Discussion • Score: 8 • Views: 10,796 • Replies: 80
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blatham
 
  0  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 03:21 pm
@blatham,
I guess I didn't really set this up as a discussion, did I. Those who read the excerpt ought to find something to mull over and bring up. Or if you've read the earlier two volumes, tons in those.

But I'll bring up something Rick talks about in his short interview with Dave Weigel. He notes the plethora of predictions from the Goldwater period on up that movement conservatism was (or in the present, is) finally on its way out. Each of these predictions has proven wrong and he is pretty clear that he thinks the present predictions of its demise aren't going to pan out either (which may be why Sam Tanenhaus at NYT criticized the book as he'd just written his own book which advanced this thesis). I'm pretty sure Perlstein has this right. There are deep and old features of US culture which tend to sustain movement conservatism and there is, now, a serious infrastructure and a lot of money that underpins what we see.
ossobuco
 
  2  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 03:29 pm
@blatham,
I'm that much older than you that I have no interest in reading three books about the history of conservatism, no offense meant to you, Perlstein, or conservatives.

I don't do talk videos well, hearing stuff going on, plus the matter of patience. I will probably read a variety of summaries about the book, plus listen here.
blatham
 
  1  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 03:45 pm
@ossobuco,
No problem, darlin'. The Weigel/Perlstein file is audio only and a worthwhile 12 minutes. When I bump into reviews of the book, I'll let you know.

I find this movement completely fascinating. I also find it vulgar, stupid, and dangerous though with some nobility of a sort but it's a pretty fine subject, I think, for helping to understand a lot about this world we live in.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 03:50 pm
@blatham,
That's a deal.
blatham
 
  2  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 03:54 pm
@ossobuco,
ps... as Reagan is a featured subject and as that character has assumed the status of the sacred in movement conservatism, attacks will be forthcoming. One has already been launched by another Reagan historian who just happens to be partner in a PR firm which has Ann Coulter and Citizens United as clients.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 03:55 pm
I see the conservatives as rock solid fundamentalists, unable to be otherwise. Their tactics may change now and then but their goals will always be the same. The only way to beat them is to outvote them. Dialog seems practically useless, so long as they see themselves as making progress.
blatham
 
  1  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 04:09 pm
@edgarblythe,
Hi edgar

My take is a bit different. I see it as a diverse coalition banded together for perceived benefits (often quite real benefits). There are clear tensions, some quite acute right now as we can witness, but there are a lot of bright people and a lot of very wealthy people working hard to keep the thing together. They've really made incredible progress in influencing American politics since the 60s. As Perlstein details, we on the left didn't get it.

Dialog is pretty much useless. They've now gone fully post modern and their truths are commonly held axiomatically and are not available for questioning. That's a bit of a generalization but take the "post mortem" some strategists attempted after the last election - it has gone absolutely nowhere except as a series of pointers regarding what they ought to pretend. The smarter crowd (or perhaps we might describe them as the less absolutist or more traditional conservatives) have created a movement which is now, in many ways, no longer under their control. They purposefully set to making people stupider, achieved that end, but didn't foresee some consequences.

Elections are the point of hope. Thus, of course, they're in the process of doing what they can to minimize Dem voters getting to the polls. They aren't fans of citizen democracy.
blatham
 
  1  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 04:37 pm
The next two elections will be interesting. They'll also exceed pretty much everything we've seen in terms of ugliness, I fully expect.

This November will likely see a close race for control of the Senate. The House is locked up through redistricting. I expect the Rs will get out voters in droves but that Dems will be beset by the norm of low turnout in mid-term elections.

But then we get to 2016 and the Rs know what troubles they will be facing then (unless they read nothing but right wing press and the worst of it to boot). Here's some polling from this morning (from Greg Sargent's blog at the Post based on a new ABC New/Wash Post poll...

– Among women, the favorable/unfavorable numbers for the GOP are 33-62. For the Democratic Party they are flipped around, at 54-40.

– Among nonwhites, those numbers for the GOP are 25-70. For the Democratic Party they are flipped around at 68-26.

– Among Latinos, those numbers for the GOP are 29-65. For the Democratic Party they are flipped around at 61-33.

– Among adults aged 18-29, those numbers for the GOP are 31-61. For the Democratic Party they are flipped around at 51-35.

– Among moderates, those numbers for the GOP are 32-66. For the Democratic Party they are flipped around at 52-45.
oralube
 
  1  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 05:33 pm
This is REALLY important: do crayons come with the book or do they cost extra?
RABEL222
 
  2  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 05:50 pm
@edgarblythe,
Never happen as long as they control the media and the Supreme Court that bastion of conservatism.
0 Replies
 
RABEL222
 
  1  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 05:53 pm
@oralube,
Pretty sure you arnt a liberal, or have the ability to read.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 06:15 pm
@blatham,
I was overly simplistic, but I essentially see it your way.
blatham
 
  1  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 06:24 pm
@edgarblythe,
Gotcha
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 06:38 pm
@edgarblythe,
What do you think will happen to conservatism when older whites becomes the minority in this country? It is predicted that will happen for the first time in 2043; still a long ways to go from the current class of conservatives. Also, recent research shows that the younger generation see themselves as independents rather than the two major parties. How will all 'this' fall out in the future for the two major parties?
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 07:01 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Depends, in my mind, if oligarchy reigns supreme, by then.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 07:04 pm
I posted this elsewhere, but I think it may be pertinent, here.

Here Are 5 Infuriating Examples of Facts Making People Dumber
http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/03/brendan-nyhan-backfire-effects-facts
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 07:26 pm
@edgarblythe,
Proves my position that there's not much one person's vote is going to do much to change anything in this country. There are millions of Americans who believes all five "facts" as the fundamental truth even when they are told it's wrong.

Death panels under ObamaCare? Really?

There's no hope.
blatham
 
  1  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 08:52 pm
@edgarblythe,
It is pertinent. Drew Westen's book (he's a cognitive science researcher) The Political Brain goes into some depressing detail on these tendencies and there's other research that validates the findings. Let's note it is not unique to right wingers. Re political ideas, this tendency is stronger where there is an existing notion or set of notions that heighten ideology or "my tribe is right and there's is wrong".

But let's consider the propaganda enterprise. If we define the term as something other than just making one's good works well known (which is entirely valid) and where we differentiate that with purposeful forwarding of untruths or deceptions such that the audience will be encouraged to hold ideas that misrepresent reality, then the necessary consequence is a stupider audience.
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  3  
Tue 5 Aug, 2014 09:01 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Quote:
There's no hope.


There's some, ci. We don't have thugs or predators or invading soldieers pounding at our doors (most of us). We have extensive and dependable food supplies. We have access (most of us) to good medical care. We have access to education. I've never gone hungry and I'm 66. We, most of us, live pretty decent lives as a consequence of the institutions we've developed in the western world. Life really isn't bad at all.

But where our institutions fail, then things get bad. And that's the threat of an ideology which disdains institutions and which tries to dismantle them or marginalize them. That's the threat of the Koch brothers and the Thatchers.
0 Replies
 
 

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