Turning Right in the Sixties: The Conservative Capture of the GOP / Edition 1

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Ideologically divided and disorganized in 1960, the conservative wing of the Republican Party appeared to many to be virtually obsolete. However, over the course of that decade, the Right reinvented itself and gained control of the party. In Turning Right in the Sixties, Mary Brennan describes how conservative Americans from a variety of backgrounds, feeling disfranchised and ignored, joined forces to make their voices heard and by 1968 had gained enough power within the party to play the decisive role in determining the presidential nominee.

Building on Barry Goldwater's short-lived bid for the presidential nomination in 1960, Republican conservatives forged new coalitions, began to organize at the grassroots level, and gained enough support to guarantee Goldwater the nomination in 1964. Brennan argues that Goldwater's loss to Lyndon Johnson in the general election has obscured the more significant fact that conservatives had wrested control of the Republican Party from the moderates who had dominated it for years. The lessons conservatives learned in that campaign, she says, aided them in 1968 and laid the groundwork for Ronald Reagan's presidential victory in 1980.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
[May] begin to put to rest the tired notion that conservative politics amount to a 'paranoid style.' Wall Street Journal

Mary C. Brennan's book provides a useful chronological account of the rise, fall, and potent afterlife of Goldwater's crusade. American Historical Review

A welcome and worthy addition to the literature. Political Science Quarterly

A clear, uncomplicated story of how conservatives moved from the ashes of defeat in 1964 to control over the Republican Party and the White House. Choice

A well researched contribution that provides the reader with a sound overview of the growing conservative groundswell in the ranks of the GOP before and after the 1960 election. Reviews in American History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807858646
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/16/2007
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,209,866
  • Product dimensions: 0.51 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary C. Brennan is associate professor of history at Southwest Texas State University.

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Chapter One


The Republican Party, plagued by philosophical, geographical,and socioeconomic differences among its members, struggled through anidentity crisis in the late 1950s and early 1960s hat eventually shiftedpower internally from liberals to conservatives. The battle could not havebeen won, however, without the assistance of right-wingers outside theparty structure. Uniting to form a more effective force, numerous conservativeintellectuals, local groups, and journalists worked together to promoteconservatives within the political system. Realizing that they neededeach other to achieve power, right-wing politicians and ideologues formedan uneasy alliance based on political expediency.

This alliance created the potential for a vibrant conservative movement,but the new unity of the various strains of conservatism was tenuous atbest. Traditionalists, libertarians, anticommunists, and right-wing politiciansworked together when it suited their purposes but remained firmlycommitted to their individual agendas. In the 1950s and early 1960s, conservativesrecognized the benefits of cooperation and joined forces to createa stronger conservative movement, but their lack of practical experience impeded their efforts. This explains, in part, why they did not gainpower until well into the 1960s.

Ideological disputes had bitterly divided the Republican Party since thestock market crash Of 1929. The Great Depression exposed the weaknessesof Republican "trickle-down" economics and the inflexibility ofHerbert Hoover's philosophy and policies. It also cost the GOP its reputationand the presidency. Moreimportanly, the 1932 election of FranklinD Roosevelt placed in office a man who embodied aH that conservativesdespised. Using the Constitution as a guidebook rather than a bible,FDR revolutionized the presidency, laid the foundations of the welfarestate, and introduced Keynesianism to the economy. Although many ofhis policies expanded programs developed by Republicans during theProgressive Era, appalled right-wingers tried desperately to block his initiatives.just as conservatives of both parties had begun to form a solidbulwark against the New Deal, World War II broke out, halting furtherexpansion of the Rooseveltian policies but ensuring the continuation ofthe Democratic administration.1

Republicans achieved more success in the postwar years. In 1946 theygained control of Congress and prevented FDR'S successor, Harry Truman,from expanding the New Deal. Tbey also discovered that anticommunismcould unite their party and inspire voters. Crusaders against the"Red Menace" at home and abroad undermined the Democratic Party bycharging that both the party and its platform were "soft on commununism,"thereby playing a role in the Republican capture of White House in1952. Seen by much of the public as a conservative victory, the election ofDwight Eisenhower appeared to quiet the disputes within the party and toherald a new era of bipartisanship.

Just as the consensus of the 1950s proved to be an illusion, however, sothe surface tranquility of the Republican Party hid intense factionalism.In part, this factionalism grew out of geographic and socioeconomic differencesthat, although not always openly acknowledged, divided Republicans.Throughtout the postwar period, members of what conservativeslabeled the "Eastern Establishment" dominated the party. Tbese Republicansshared a common background of Ivy League educations, exclusiveclub memberships, and financial success. Operating many of the majorcorporations of the United States, they controlled the purse stirings of theparty and of any candidate who wanted to win on the national level. Althoughsome members were from outside the Northeast, such as ThomasDewey and Wendell Willkie, they had only succeeded after they moved tothe East. Members of the "Establishment," assuming that they knew what was best for the entire country, held sway through their occupation ofpolicy-making positions throughout the executive branch as well as theirmanipulation of the party machinery.(2)

By the 1950s, however, businesspeople and political leaders from theSouth and West increasingly challenged these power brokers within theGOP. Rich Texas oil tycoons and people who had profited from the postwarindustrial boom in the Southwest demanded greater influence at thenational level. They believed that the burgeoning population and economyof their region entitled them to play a more important role in the formulationof policy decisions. Joining with midwesterners who also felt excludedfrom the "Establishment," these southern and western men and womenbegan to coalesce into what Arizona senator Barry Goldwater described asa new populist movement.(3)

The geographic and socioeconomic distinctions between the twogroups contributed to their formation of different ideological and practicalgoals as well. Following in the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt's progressivism, many members of the wealthy "Eastern Establishment" embracedNew Deal-style social and economic programs in the belief that suchpolicies would alleviate class conflicts, lead to economic stability, and keepgovernmental control in their hands. They envisioned what historian RobertGriffith has called a "corporate commonwealth." Believing it necessaryto "come to grips with the problems of twentieth-century life," these people"worked out a program" that was, according to Eisenhower supporterPaul Hoffman, "better than anything the Democrats could offer."(4) As aresult, "liberal" and/or "moderate" Republicans accepted the frameworkof the New Deal, created some new programs, and strove to maintain andexpand American economic involvement around the world.

This program appalled the growing number of conservatives in theSouthwest who stressed individual initiative over welfare programs, preferredfree enterprise rather than government regulation, and desired areturn to local control over matters such as schools, taxes, and race relations.Fearing communism at home, they advocated all means of exposingand eliminating real or potential traitors. In their eagerness to uncover left-wingagents, some right-wingers shocked other party members with theirwillingness to violate civil rights and liberties.

Although most on the right supported this domestic agenda, conservativestended to disagree on foreign policy. Some right-wingers advocated akind of isolationist, "Fortress America" style of diplomacy, although theyopposed the taxes and bureaucracy necessary to maintain such a defense.Others wanted the United States to move aggressively to destroy communismwherever it appeared. Many of these were "Asia-Firsters," who hadtraditional business or missionary ties to Asia and thus focused their attentionon the Far East.(5) Despite such disagreements, conservative politicalleaders united whenever necessary to fight against liberal domination ofthe GOP.

The Right had attempted previously to gain control of the party. Inboth 1948 and 1952, Ohio senator Robert A. Taft, leader of the conservativefaction in the GOP, had sought the presidential nomination. Poor planning,a "loser" image, and powerful opponents prevented him from gainingthe prize, however, and left a lingering bitterness in the mouths ofmany conservatives. Taft's sudden death in 1953 further weakened theRight and left them temporarily leaderless and dispirited.(6)

As the right wing of the Republican Party struggled to survive in the1950s, a conservative movement began to coalesce outside the politicalstructure. Conservative intellectuals who had long disagreed with one anotherfound common ground in the struggle against communism. Whilemaintaining their loyalty to their own philosophies, these intellectuals recognizedthe importance of standing united against liberalism. Essential tothe development of an effective political movement, these men and womenprovided the philosophical underpinnings of the new drive for conservatism.Their growing involvement in the political world offered other conservativeslegitimacy and justification.

During the postwar era, American conservatives generally followed oneof two strands of thought: traditionalism or classical liberalism. Throughoutthe early 1950s, conservatives of all varieties concentrated on theirdifferences rather than their similarities and therefore limited their audienceand impact. Members of each faction behaved that only they trulyunderstood the cause of the United States' grave troubles.

Traditionalists such as University of Chicago English professor RichardWeaver, sociologist Robert Nisbet, and Freeman founder Albert JayNock judged the modern Western world distasteful in many respects andcriticized the cult of conformity and the emergence of what they labeled"mass man." Others, such as political philosopher Leo Strauss and politicalscientist John Hallowell, looked back fondly to a time when moralitywas the guiding principle of humanity's existence and such concepts asrelativism, positivism, and totalitarianism were unknown. Although theyoften disagreed on how to rediscover this so-called golden age, they werecertain that it had existed at some point and that the answers it providedwould miraculously solve the world's problems. Historian Russell Kirkfeared the growth of a "Big Brother" state, but like most traditionalists, heagreed with Edmund Burke that government played an important role incommunity life because in the end "political problems are religious andmoral problems."(9)

Kirk's belief in an active government and his attempts to deemphasizethe Cold War contrasted sharply with the views of classical liberals andlibertarians such as National Review contributing editor Frank Meyer,Austrian economist Frederick A. Hayek, and creator of the Foundation forEconomic Education Leonard E. Read. These men, through journals,books, and organizations, preached the gospel of laissez-faire economicsand libertarianism. Their scholarly defense of limited government and afree-market economy effectively attacked the New Deal and redefined thepostwar economic debate."

In the early 1950s, intellectuals from both camps found common causein their fear of the spread of communism abroad, particularly throughoutAsia. The anticommunist movement manifested itself in numerous journalarticles attacking the foreign policy of the Democrats as well as in theunofficial but powerful China Lobby, which supported the NationalistChinese. Nor did anticommunists approve of all of Eisenhower's foreignpolicy decisions. Although Eisenhower worked very hard to maintain theirsupport, his attempts at arms reduction and his willingness to meet withKhrushchev undermined his credibility as an enemy of communism.Many conservatives felt that the president did not understand circumstancesthat seemed obvious to them - that, in James Burnham's words,the "third world war" had already begun.(9)

Extending this crusade onto the domestic front, anticommunists applaudedmembers of the House Un-American Activities Committee andcheered the defeat of Alger Hiss and the success of Wisconsin senatorJoseph R. McCarthy. Conservative journals featured stories of allegedcommunist infiltration of prominent institutions in American society,while right-wing authors and citizens scrutinized everyone from senatorsto school board officials, whether Democrat or Republican. Anyone witha questionable background became suspect; anyone who defended theUnited States and worked against the communists deserved support andpraise.

The crusade against the "Red Menace" played an essential role inunifying disagreeing conservative intellectuals and building a grassrootsconstituency. No matter what they thought about the domestic situation,almost everyone on the right - indeed, most Americans - feared communism.Consequently, the anticommunist crusade created a broad spectrumof support and provided conservatives with heroes. Besides SenatorMcCarthy, whose sensational allegations often made newspaper headlines,Alger Hiss's nemesis Vice President Richard Nixon and ex-communistinformant Whittaker Chambers became legends in the battle againstthe Left. They served as magnets drawing diverse conservative groupsand individuals to the Republican banner.

Anticommunism was not the only factor contributing to the unificationand politicization of conservative intellectuals during the mid- to late1950s. Equally important were the efforts of the evolving conservativepress. Realizing that the various strands of conservative thought could notbe fused successfully, men such as National Review founders William F.Buckley, Jr., and Willi Schlamm encouraged right-wing factions to overlooktheir differences in order to consolidate their opposition to liberalism.Along with other conservative writers working for journals such as HumanEvents, the Freeman, and the American Mercury, the editors of the NationalReview helped acquaint the public with the philosophical and practical tenetsof conservatism as well as with conservative politicians and platforms.In addition, these journalists gave voice to conservative intellectuals' frustrationwith what they perceived as liberal domination of academia, thearts, and philosophy. In the process, the right-wing press advertised andencouraged the resurgence on the right during the 1950s.(10)

Buckley's National Review was more than just a chronicler of contemporaryevents. It played a vital role in articulating conservative grievancesand consciously arousing and uniting the various dissatisfied factions.A devout Catholic from a wealthy family, steeped in conservatism fromchildhood, Buckley saw himself as a rebel against the liberal status quo anda warrior in the struggle against Soviet aggression. He first attacked liberalismin 1951 in God and Man at Yale, in which he charged the Yale facultywith preaching socialism and atheism. A talented speaker and a brilliantdebater, Buckley continued his verbal and published assaults on liberalismthroughout his brief career with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)and his pursuit of other business ventures.

Buckley's primary contribution to conservatism came in 1955 with thefounding of the National Review. Bringing together men and women ofwidely divergent views, Buckley encouraged them to explain their positionsand to debate the issues. According to publisher William Rusher, theeditors strove to present "a world view, rather than merely a politicalphilosophy or the theoretical underpinnings of an economic system."(12)Aimed at intellectuals and opinion-makers, the National Review also appealedto working-class conservatives. Despite financial difficulties in theearly years, the National Review became the most important conservativemagazine and Buckly the most widely recognized spokesperson of right-wingthought.

Buckley and other right-wing intellectuals were not the only rebelliousconservatives. By the late 1950s, a right-wing youth movement was becoming noticeably more vocal. Some of the members of this movementhad discovered conservatism through conservative journals, while othershad joined organizations such as the Intercollegiate Society of Individualistsand the Young Republican National Federation, both of which shifteddramatically to the right in the late 1950s. M. Stanton Evans, among thoseyoung people caught up in the rising tide on the right, explained in hisbook Revolt on the Campus that by 1960 "at least three bursts of rebellion"occurred against liberalism: "one funneled into the Republican Party, oneinto a premature effort at a new national organization, and one into theexotic recesses of Bohemia." While he admitted that "none did the job" ofturning back the liberal orthodoxy, he believed that each signified youth'sfrustration" with the conformity of liberalism."(13)

Indeed, these organized young people, by supporting conservative candidates on a national level, spreading right-wing literature, and establishinggroups such as the National Student Committee for the Loyalty Oath,provided an active informed conservative constituency, particularly oncollege campuses, throughout the country.(14) By 1960, enough supportexisted to create a nationwide conservative youth organization "designedsolely for political action." While this new group, Young Americans forFreedom, worked independently of partisan ties, the growing conservatismof the Young Republican organization significantly affected the nationalparty. By 1959, according to active member William Rusher, the"biennial [Young Republican] national conventions were recognized assignificant straws in the Republican wind, and there seemed no doubt thatin 1959 the signal would be a shift to the right."(15)

Simultaneously, citizens across the country reacted against what theyregarded as the "monolithic conformity of "liberalism"' in culture andeducation as well as liberal politics and economics by forming local andnational groups to combat whichever aspect of liberalism particularly offendedor outraged them.(16) On a local level, antiintegrationist, antiblack,anti-Semitic, anti-catholic, antifluoridation, and anticommunist as well aslibertarian and free enterprise groups appeared.(17) Funded mostly by a fewmajor contributors, many of the organizations also depended heavily onsmall donations from members.(18) Organizations concentrating on a particularaspect of a broader cause, such as the American Survival Party andthe Committee to Warn of the Arrival of Communist Merchandise on theLocal Business Scene, had only limited support and impact.(19)

Anticommunist clubs abounded, but single-cause groups had a broaderappeal. Many published their own newsletters or journals in an attempt tospread their message, build support, and pressure legislators to stop thegrowth of liberalism. Although they often reported political events andusually encouraged political participation, most of these groups despairedover the lack of differentiation between the national parties. The Congressof Freedom explained the situation from a grassroots perspective: "runningtrue to form." the Republicans tried "to emulate the DemocraticFakers" by enacting more legislation to "siphon off [the] money of itspeople to enslave them.(20)

Besides these local groups, a number of national committees and organizationsformed during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Some, such as theCommittee of One Million, focused solely on foreign policy issues. FredC. Schwarz and others won thousands of converts by combining a hard-lineattitude toward communism with Christian fundamentalism, neatlypackaged together for the consumer. Other groups were more concernedabout curing domestic ills. The Foundation for Economic Education, theNational Economic Council, and the National Educational Program concentratedon fighting against collectivism in the government and educatingthe American public in conservative economics. In fact, many conservativesconsidered the education of the American people "in the valuesof freedom [and] our American heritage" to be their primary function.Moreover, right-wing groups had a responsibility, according to the membersof Constructive Action, to warn the public about "the dangers andevils inherent in all forms of socialism."(21)

The most significant of these national organizations was the John BirchSociety, founded in 1958 by Robert Welch. The "twin centers" of die society'sideology were an antistatism that emphasized individualism and localgovernment and a conspiracy theory warning that certain forces wereattempting to take over the world. According to Welch, these "forces" or"Insiders" were a modern manifestation of the ancient Illuminati whowanted to institute worldwide communism.(22) Discounted as fanatics bymany. Democrats and Republicans, members of the society used slickpropaganda techniques and publications, Particularly American Opinion,to build up a significant following that would not be silenced and eventuallycould not be ignored.

In fact, conservatives of all varieties were increasingly determined. togain political power. Throughout the latter half of the 1950s, conservativewriters emphasized the necessity of political action. Human Events authorCongressman Howard Buffet asserted that the "transcendent politicalduty of the citizen" was "vigilance" and that this task should not be left topoliticians. Philosopher Richard Weaver similarly warned of the consequencesof relying on political leaders, who were too willing to compromise.Notre Dame dean and right-wing organizer Clarence Manion concludedthat "the terrible tide" was "turning" and the "political shot-gunmarriage that Ike performed" was going to be over by 1960.(23)

Worried that eight years of "Liberal Republican" control of the partyhad weakened the conservative movement, National Review editor FrankMeyer still found cause for hope in the new activity on the right, which was"creating a climate in which conservatism is on the verge of emerging asthe only live option for the intelligent and the independent of the new generation."Accepting the challenge, the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists,the Young Republicans, and later the Young Americans for Freedombegan organizing and lobbying for right-wing causes and candidates.(24)

By 1960, most of this activity focused on developing strength within theRepublican Party. As journalist George Sokolsky pointed out, the GOP hadto serve as a "rallying point" for the "angry men" of the country becausethere was "no other party." Although both parties were ideologically "confused,the Democratic Party was a "catchall on every phase of liberal, andeven socialist," views. The Republican Party, on the other hand, had,according to Human Events author John J. Synon, "lent little aid and comfortto the collectivists." Conservatives had to build on this trend to ensurethat the party did not slip into the wrong hands.(25)

For their part, Republican conservative politicians worked hard to takeadvantage of this sentiment. As Senate Campaign Committee chair, Arizonasenator Barry Goldwater traveled across the country attempting tobring frustrated voters "back n the party" by convincing them "that theirpositions were not contrary to ours."(26) From the standpoint of conservatives,gaining such support would secure a national platform for achievingtheir goals. It would also serve the purposes of Republican conservativeswho had been struggling to win control of their party.

Although these conservative organizations and individuals provided anatural constituency for the right wing of the GOP, their support createddifficulties. Since they were not elected officials, grassroots conservativesdid not always see the need for, or the wisdom of, compromise. Theycould afford to be relentless in their quest for conservative goals; officeholderscould not. Lacking political experience, intellectuals and crusaderson the right demanded a high price for their support.

Moreover, the diversity of right-wing organizations proved problematical.How could conservative leaders maintain unity among people withdifferent goals and backgrounds? For example, although atheist MaxEastman agreed with Buckley politically, Eastman withdrew his namefrom the masthead of the National Review because he found the magazinetoo "christian." The widely distributed, oversimplified internationalcommunist conspiracy theory of Robert Welch and his followers createdeven greater difficulties. Many people associated with the National Reviewdisagreed with important parts of the Birchite philosophy. WhereasWelch blamed communist conspirators for "delivering" Americans totheir "doom," Buckley attributed the dangerous situation to anticommunistswho "tragically misunder[stood] the nature of the crisis" Americansfaced.(27)

The fact that the editors of the National Review worried more than theaverage midwestern or southwestern American about these intellectualsubtleties created an additional obstacle to conservative unity. Farmers inthe heartland, oilmen in Texas, academics in Chicago, and a journalist inNew York City might all share the same basic philosophy but interpret thatperspective very differently because of their distinct social and educationalbackgrounds. Conservatives had to treat these socioeconomic differenceswith care to prevent charges of elitism from undermining their cause.Surface unity existed by the early 1960s, but underlying theoretical andpractical disagreements continually threatened to disrupt the calm.

Discord was particularly apparent m the political arena. ConservativeRepublicans united in opposition to liberal threats but squabbled endlesslywhen it came to advancing their own conservative agendas. Power strugglesbetween strong personalities limited conservative unity, the most obviousexample taking place in California. Both Vice President RichardNixon and Senator William Knowland, Republican minority leader, sawthemselves as the spokesperson for the California GOP. Never forgettingthat Knowland had not supported him in his first campaign, Nixon deniedthe senator's claim to leadership in the Golden State. This rivalry continuedthroughout the 1950S until Knowland lost his gubernatorialand his power in 1958.(28)

Even those not directly involved in government recognized the dangerof such infighting. Both W Henry McFarland of the American Committeeand L. Brent Bozell of the National Review implored their readersjoin forces with others on the right in order to increase their power. Thecalls for unity continued throughout the 1950s.(29)

Of more consequence than disunity was the taint of extremism associatedwith groups such as the John Birch Society. With their conspiracytheories and wild assertions that Eisenhower was a communist agent,Welch and his organization reinforced the view of many moderates anliberals that everyone on the right was a lunatic. This tendency to view aconservative thought as extremist developed during the postwar periodfor several reasons. Some scholars argued that the United States' lack offeudal past had prevented the development of an indigenous conservativemovement. Therefore, as many liberal commentators pointed out at thattime, to be a conservative in the United States was an impossibility becauseit would mean "conserving" liberalism. Others, pointing to the "intellectualflabbiness" of American conservatism, portrayed right-wingersas liberals with an attitude problem. According to this theory, these menand women zeroed in on the parts of liberal philosophy that they opposedand ignored the rest.(30) Such viewpoints led to the conviction that in theUnited States conservatism amounted to little more than the desire ofbusinesspeople and the upper classes to maintain the status quo.

Reflecting a second aspect of this argument, others acknowledged theexistence of a conservative faction but defined it solely by its radical elements.Respected journals such as the New Republic described Goldwateras "the `white hope' of America's thinning Neanderthal ranks" and hisfellow conservatives as members of the "radical right" and "the crackpotfringe." Historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., also associated the Right with asingle segment of society. In his discussion of "the failure of the right" inThe Vital Center, Schlesinger examined only the business community,thus excluding all other conservative elements. When he spoke of radicalism,he associated it with a "confused and frightened business community"susceptible to fascism rather than rampaging anticommunists or axwieldingmoralists.(31)

The Right also was forced to pay for its support of McCarthy's crusadeagainst the "Red Menace." Daniel Bell, Seymour Lipset, and other commentatorsemphasized the irrationality of the McCarthyites' response tothreats from abroad. Most Republicans had applauded the Wisconsinsenator's early attacks on communism in government. When he continuedhis investigations during a Republican administration, however, some beganto question his reliability and usefulness.(32) Moderate Republicansbelieved that McCarthy's willingness to violate the civil rights of suspectsand his abuse of senatorial privileged undermined the legitimacy of anticommunismand threatened the reputation of the GOP. Thus, the man whohad made a name for himself fighting alleged radicals came to be perceivedby many Republicans as an extremist who had to be eliminatedbefore he irreparably damaged the crusade against communism. Censured,McCarthy lost power, but not until he had introduced an extremistdynamic within the GOP.

Obviously, part of the problem conservatives faced in establishingthemselves within the GOP and the country was one of definition. MostRepublicans supported a basic platform that stressed local government,reduced spending, and anticommunism. As a result, ideological differencesamong party members became matters of degree; conservativeswanted greater local responsibility for government, less spending, and astronger stand against communism than did party moderates or liberals.By these criteria from the moderate perspective, someone who articulateddifferent political or more far-reaching goals or who wanted to enact theplatform more quickly or more thoroughly would be an extremist andcould be legitimately ignored.

Conservatives realized the danger of being labeled "extremist" andworked to counteract such a perception. Throughout the late 1950s andearly 1960s, various right-wing journalists warned that anti-Semitic andracist remarks by conservatives undermined their cause. Offering a strategyfor increasing conservative ranks, author Elizabeth Churchill Brownencouraged Human Events readers to avoid associating with racists andanti-Semites. Similarly, Buckley cautioned independent publishers that"racists and crackpots" "discredited" the movement. He also attempted toconvince such fanatics as Nazi George Lincoln Rockwell to give up theirmore excessive ideas. In 1960 Buckley denounced the American Mercuryfor its anti-semitic posture, which he feared would "gravely damage thecause of true conservatism." Welch's ideas, however, presented a dilemma.While Buckley rejected Welch's hypothesis that Eisenhower was acommunist agent, he considered the John Birch Society a worthy organization,maintained a friendly correspondence with Welch, and supportedhis publication, American Opinion, from its beginnings in 1958 into theearly 1960s.(33)

Building on a widespread but unarticulated public dissatisfaction withgovernment and society, a resurgent intellectual movement, and a mushroomingnetwork of grassroots groups, conservative Republican politiciansbegan to develop their own organization within the party. UnlikeTaft, who had scorned the conservative intellectuals, the New Right end-joyedintimate financial and personalities with these savants, as well as withthe burgeoning conservative press. The resulting interaction gave voice tolong-standing but previously inchoate sentiments. Conservatives soondiscovered that they were not alone, but they confronted a wide range ofopinion on the right. It was their willingness, albeit grudging at times, totolerate the breadth of the developing movement that helped to unify thefactions in their assault on the liberal "Eastern Establishment."

This trend toward unity is one of the most important events in the earlydevelopment of the conservative movement. The integration of variousright-wing groups during the late 1950s occurred on several levels. Philosophically,intellectuals with diverse beliefs realized the value of concentratingon their similarities rather than their differences in the commonfight against liberals. Politically, conservatives of all stripes and socioeconomicbackgrounds rallied around the cause of anticommunism, willinglyoverlooking their disagreements in their desire to support McCarthy. The alliance between conservative intellectuals, grassroots groups, andright-wing politicians was extremely significant in the long-term developmentof the conservative movement. The anger and frustration of citizenscreated a substantial bloc of votes and money; the theoreticians and thepress channeled those votes toward support of conservative politicians. Byoffering intellectual justifications, thinkers such as Frank Meyer, JamesBurnham, and Russell Kirk gave the developing movement the legitimacynecessary to challenge liberal control of the party.

Scenes from the Life of a European City



Copyright © 1997 Peter Demetz.All rights reserved.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments, ix Introduction, 1
1. An Uneasy Alliance, 6
2. Challenging the Politics of Consensus: Conservative Republicans and the Election of 1960, 19
3. Problems and Solutions, 39
4. Seizing the Moment, 60
5. Baptism by Fire, 82
6. Biding Their Time, 104 7. Victory?, 120
Conclusion, 138
Notes, 143 Bibliography, 195 Index, 205

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