Reclaiming Conservatism: How a Great American Political Movement Got Lost--And How It Can Find Its Way Back

Reclaiming Conservatism: How a Great American Political Movement Got Lost--And How It Can Find Its Way Back

by Mickey Edwards
     
 

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A leading figure in the American conservative movement for over 40 years, Mickey Edwards was a prominent Republican congressman, a former national chairman of the American Conservative Union, and a founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation. When he speaks, conservatives listen. Now, in this highly provocative and frank volume, Edwards argues loud and clear that

Overview

A leading figure in the American conservative movement for over 40 years, Mickey Edwards was a prominent Republican congressman, a former national chairman of the American Conservative Union, and a founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation. When he speaks, conservatives listen. Now, in this highly provocative and frank volume, Edwards argues loud and clear that conservatives today have abandoned their principles and have become champions of that which they once most feared. The conservative movement--which once nominated Barry Goldwater for President, and later elected Ronald Reagan--was based on a distinctly American kind of conservatism which drew its inspiration directly from the United States Constitution--in particular, an overriding belief in individual liberty and limited government. But today, Edwards argues, the mantle of conservatism has been taken over by people whose beliefs and policies threaten the entire constitutional system of government. By abetting an imperial presidency, he contends, so-called "conservatives" have gutted the system of checks and balances, abandoned due process, and trampled upon our cherished civil liberties. Today's conservatives endorse unprecedented assertions of government power--from the creation of secret prisons to illegal wiretapping. Once, they fought to protect citizens from government intrusion; today, they seem to recognize few limits on what government can do. The movement that was once the Constitution's--and freedom's--strongest defender is now at risk of becoming its most dangerous enemy. Edwards ends with a blueprint for reclaiming the essence of conservatism in America. Touching upon many current issues, this passionately argued book concludes that many of today's conservatives seem to have it all backwards. They have turned conservatism upside down--and this book calls them on it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This book is a cri de coeur by former Republican congressman Edwards, a veteran conservative founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation who once ranked as the national chairman of the American Conservative Union. Edwards believes that conservatism has abandoned the ideas of limited government that once inspired it. This has been, he argues, the paradoxical price of conservative electoral success, and the process of winning and retaining this power has brought its own temptations. Taking Washington required coalition forming with neoconservatives, the religious right and former supporters of George Wallace who all owed little to the Goldwater-style conservatism "in which the thing being 'conserved' was the liberal revolution embodied in the Constitution." According to Edwards, these other views have intensified as the Bush administration presides over an evolving security state, and the movement Edwards once held sacrosanct is now unrecognizable. This is a critique with force and eloquence, but its author is better at defining what has, from his perspective, gone wrong, than providing persuasive suggestions as to how conservatives of his mindset are meant to win elections today. (Mar.)

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From the Publisher
"This is a critique with force and eloquence."—Publishers Weekly

"With erudition an passion, Edwards presents his case for reclaiming the former conservatism and ends with eight steps, e.g., 'Reread the Constitution.' First read this book. For all collections."—Library Journal

"Readers from across the political spectrum will care about the issues Edwards raises."—Booklist

"Edwards has issued a passionate plea for a return to the kind of conservatism that cared about people, not power. His argument is that it is the Constitution that matters, not partisan advantage, and that true conservatives care about equality of opportunity, not privilege."—The Honorable Jack Kemp

"This is an excellent book, lucid and compelling, and it sounds a clarion call to all Americans to unite and protect that most precious of documents, the United States Constitution. A marvelous work."—William S. Sessions, Former Director, FBI

"A long-time leader among conservatives, Mickey Edwards minces no words in this stinging indictment of the men and movements that he blames for betraying conservative principles. This is a courageous effort to help regain his vision of conservatism."—David Gergen, Harvard University

"This book reminded me again why I am a Conservative. It is a great wake up call and a plan to action."—Ed Rollins

"Mickey Edwards is a rarity—a long-time professional politician with a deep sense of history and philosophy, someone who combines a knowledge of politics and policy with an intellectually sophisticated framework. This book should be read by every politician, and especially every presidential candidate, who pontificates on the American political system and the U.S. Constitution."—Norman Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research

"Mickey Edwards has written a book that rings as clear as the Liberty Bell. His unflinching assessment of our endangered political order ought to be read by every American citizen."—Sean Wilentz, Princeton University

"Edwards' analysis is a case study in the old axiom that 'power corrupts'—it is a critique that deserves to be read."—David Keene, National Chairman, American Conservative Union

"Writing with passion, wisdom and lucidity, Edwards provides a scathing critique of the Congress's acquiescence in the dangerous and unprecedented concentration of power in the Bush presidency. Reclaiming Conservatism is a tour de force."—Thomas E. Mann, The Brookings Institution

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199714810
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
03/01/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
288 KB

Meet the Author

Mickey Edwards is on the faculty at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and is a Vice President of the Aspen Institute. After leaving Congress, he taught at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government for 11 years and was selected by students as the outstanding teacher in the school. He was a weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and other major newspapers.

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