Nation contributor Fang debuts with this introduction to the leadership of the contemporary conservative movement, survey of its organizational forms and tactics, and classification of its different sections, by function and area of activity.
The author presents a movement split between two parts—the religious fundamentalist wing and its libertarian counterpart—with two sources of tactical leadership, organized around weekly coalition-type meetings in the nation's capital. There is the group associated with Grover Norquist and his tax resisters, while the other identifies with the late New Right leader Paul Weyrich of the Heritage Foundation. Fang reviews both the public and behind-the-scenes influences of organizations like FreedomWorks, the Heritage Foundation and the Council for National Policy, as well as funding influences like the Koch brothers. In the process, he documents how front groups and single-issue formations have been spawned and their activities funded and coordinated. Fang identifies the Heritage Foundation as “still the center of conservatism” and finds the roots of the present radicalism on the right in the opponents of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. He shows how Koch family members, involved in founding the John Birch Society, continue to play a multigenerational role. Fang insists that today's movement, along with its corporate sponsors, are usurpers of the tradition associated with the original tea party, which was directed against government-subsidized efforts to undermine domestic and international competitors. Funding, media, Internet and other elements are all coordinated in ways some participants probably don't understand at all.
A practical addition to literature on conservatism that will be widely appreciated, not just on the left.