A myth-dissolving account of the past state of politics in the United States and what was lost when the Republican Party was destroyed.
Drawing on the rediscovered files of the Ripon Society, a centrist Republican organization, Kabaservice (The Guardians: Kingman Brewster, His Circle and the Rise of the Liberal Establishment, 2004) documents the differences between politics and ideology, and politicians and ideologues in the decline of the moderate aspects of the Republican Party. With Mitt Romney running for president and the successors of 1960s Goldwater-ism stirring in the Tea Party, the author examines what seems to be coming to pass in the current presidential cycle. He shows a tension between those in either party who wanted the country to be organized around ideological purity and a broader, inclusive openness. Kabaservice writes that New Yorker governor Thomas Dewey used to lambast the “impractical theorists” who promoted such approaches in his day, and he investigates Clif White's “Syndicate” and William Rusher of the National Review in taking on the mechanics of the organizational dirty work to clear the way for Goldwater. “White saw in movement conservatism,” writes the author, “the vehicle through which to takeover the Republican Party, using tactics he had learned from the Communists.” The targeted opponents were not only Republicans but also supporters of voting rights, civil rights, health care, public investment in infrastructure and education. White and Rusher provided a frame for Nixon's polarizing actions against his opponents of either party, and for the new generation of Republican youth then coming up.
An engaging contribution to American political history.