E.J. Dionne Jr. discusses Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism—From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond
This event includes a book signing.
Harvard Book Store welcomes acclaimed NPR commentator and Washington Post columnist E.J. DIONNE JR. for a discussion of his latest book, Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism—From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond.
About Why the Right Went Wrong
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, 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.
“An important pundit delivers a thorough exegesis of the stubborn recurrence of the fringe right wing in response to a sense of ‘lost social status in a rapidly changing country.'” —Kirkus Reviews
E.J. Dionne, Jr., is a bestselling author, a syndicated columnist who appears twice weekly in The Washington Post and nearly a hundred other newspapers, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a professor at Georgetown University. His Why Americans Hate Politics won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a nominee for the National Book Award. He is a regular commentator on National Public Radio and on other radio and television programs. He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, Mary Boyle, and their three children.
Photo Credit: Paul Morigi