Making Sense of the New American Right

Keeping track of the Jacksonians, Reformicons, Paleos, and Post-liberals.

I like to start my classes on conservative intellectual history by distinguishing between three groups. There is the Republican party, with its millions of adherents and spectrum of opinion from very conservative, somewhat conservative, moderate, and yes, liberal. There is the conservative movement, the constellation of single-issue nonprofits that sprung up in the 1970s

  • gun rights,
  • pro-life,
  • taxpayer,
  • right to work

— and continue to influence elected officials. Finally, there is the conservative intellectual movement: writers, scholars, and wonks whose journalistic and political work deals mainly with ideas and, if we’re lucky, their translation into public policy.

They Want Trump to Make the G.O.P. a Workers’ Party

Ronald Reagan’s notions that policies that benefit the rich and big business lift all incomes now appear outmoded in an era of rising wealth inequality and stagnant wages.

.. “The biggest thing that Trump offers these voters is finally somebody paying attention,” said Henry Olsen, a scholar at the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center.

“Imagine that they’re the wallflowers at the high school dance and they’re sitting off, ignored by everybody. Suddenly, the football hero comes up and says, ‘Come dance with me.’ That’s intoxicating.”

.. But he acknowledged differences in tactics and substance. His group and its allies favor conflict, like government shutdowns, for instance. And they still want to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut taxes for everyone.