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tv   Matthew Continetti The Right  CSPAN  August 19, 2022 11:35am-12:59pm EDT

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came towards paris that was what was going tohappen . >> martin do gardner author of the book taking paris on germany's for your google occupation of paris and its liberation american and french forces in august 1944. watch on q&a sunday night at 8 pm eastern. listen to q&a and all our podcasts on our new app. >> weekends are an intellectual east. every saturday american history tv documentsamerica's stories and on sundays, book tv brings you the latest nonfiction books and authors . funding comesfrom these television companies and more . including cox. >> homework candy hard but squatting in a diner for internetwork is even harder. that's why we're providing lower income students access to affordable internet so
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homework can just be homework. cox connect and compete. >> cox along with these television companies supports c-span2 as a public service . >> welcome. i'm here at the american enterprise institute is my pleasure to welcome you in conversation about matthew continetti's important new book , "the right: the hundred-year war for american conservatism" . this book is both an intellectual and political history of the american right b over the past century . it takes up the ideas behind the right and editorial coalition that has composted coalition y that has sought power used our and the way it's not about the future. gthe book explores the important tensions between populism and conservatism, between libertarians and traditionalists, but we
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practice and tourists so it gives us a lot to talk about hr and that is what we will be doing this morning . we will do it through a conversation between the e books author matt continetti and you might say one of the subjects former house speaker paul ryan, a practitioner and thinker about politics on the modernright . matt continetti is a senior fellow at aei where his work is focused on politics and history. he's a prominent analyst and analyst and fauthor, founding editor of the washington free vegan. he was prior to that the editor of the weekly standard and also exhibiting editor at national review at a columnist for commentary magazine in one way or another all his books about with the evolution of the modern. all right is the former speaker of the house, served in congress for 20 years in 1999 to 2019 representing the
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first district of wisconsin. in that time he rose very quickly to serve as chairman of the budget committee and chairman of the ways and means committee and ultimately served as speaker for about 3 and a half years. i'm sure like a lot longer. he's now among other things on nonresident fellow with us aei as well as teaching at notre dame and other important work. our format will be straightforward and conversational. no formal remarks, no opening statements. we will discuss the book. it's for ideas, questions to matt and after some back and forth between matt and paul which i will moderate we will open things up for questions from all of you in the room also questions from those of you were watching live online . if you are watching us online there are two ways you can ask questions of mac, by email or if you must on twitter. by email you can send a question to john roach, that's john.roach at
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on twitter you can use the hashtag aei the right. first of all congratulations. really an important and super book. maybe the way to get started and help. a sense of the book is by telling us why you wrote it and why you wrote it in the way you did. why the book as a particular character and formyou give it . >> thank you tyuval levin and thank you all for attending thank you to aei for providing a home where i could write this book which has been many years in the making. and finally when yuval came to me and said you have to write the book you help me come to aei where i could write it. the book began in a few ways. the first is i have an unusual habit. i love reading old journalism and when i started as a political writer in washington 20 years ago, my hobby was reading through the
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archives of magazines where i worked at the time which was the standard and then moving from there to the archives of the national review, the american spectator, commentary amagazine, all these little magazines on the american right and from that was an education not only in the history of the right broader education in the history of american politics and culture the last half century that's something i've been doing in my spare time. however, after 2012 particular i began on more intensive look and investigation into the history of the american right because the 2012 election which played a pretty big part in,you're familiar with . explain some of the emerging strains and tensions within the right between the republican party establishment based in washington and the grassroots conservatism throughout the
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country, between various factions within the conservative movement and different ideasand principles listed for . also carried through 2012 it seems to me that the populist moments which i believe began the most recent populist moments which i 00believe began gthe second bush administration around 2005, 2006 was only gaining steam i wanted to investigate why was this happening, what was driving this energy and when donald trump came down the escalator in 2015, eventually won the republican nomination and presidency next year i thought the history of the american right was all the more necessary to figure out how we reached this impasse. another reason why i will the book that i should mention is i've been teaching this material in some form for over the years and some of my students are here. i found there was no real one volume textbook i could just
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a young person and say this is the history. there are of course great works, george nash's book the conservative intellectual movement in america is kind of the key text of my field. but that book really focuses heavily on the post world war ii conservative movement and it kind of ends its main body of the text anyway and around the late 1970s. so i felt it was necessary to broaden the story and tell it in a narrative format in a way that synthesizes both intellectual development along with political development etthis way i could just hand it to my students and safer class, just read this book r and buy a couple of copies for you and your family. >> maybe by way of offering some starting blocks of your own about the book can you help us think about the question of the history of the right for nsconservatism, why should conservatives care about the history ofamerican
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conservatism ? >> whether to save the country or not. where: language and point and hei think if we lose the country to the left then we lose what the country is all about. for me it's a country where constitutions are rooted in natural law and the principles that will pull through that should be carried through to make sure the country realizes its true potential and if we lose that , then we lose to the left and we become like other countries . and other democracies. so i think it's extremely important but we're we're not anywhere closewhere we need to be as the movement to be able to realize these things . my background is more this silly based and i worry about inflection point in the future with the social contract dollar reserve currency and how much time we have beforeitwe can put in place important reforms but
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we have to win a lot of arguments before we can do that so why is it important ? it's important that we can make sure that the 21st century is a great american century. that democracy and self-determination and markets and the rest and in human flourishing advances one which is what we work on aei. i want to thank them for giving me a whole so i can read but cwe were talking about this over here a second ago. i went to college from 88 to 92 that had the time i became a political agent in the reagan moment and i came into the conservative movement as a young person as a think tank that as a member inside a fight for the soul of the republican party which was alive and well. bill clinton had just won and you have a turn within the conservative movement and different factions fighting one another. this is not new. this has happened from the beginning on. your book is a perfect example for new young people who are shocked at this in
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writing so to isspeak of the conservative movement, this is what happens in movements until you have a big standardbearer, a reagan type person you're going to have that type of fight. we are where we spend before, where we go we don't yet know but it's important that the conservative movement in my opinion becomes the majority movement in the country with respect to winning elections to we can effectuate the policy so that we can solve these problems that are in front of us . >> matthew, it must be a challenge to decide where to start in a book like this and you mentioned george nash's wonderful book looks at american conservatism as a post-world war ii phenomenon . you don't do that and you put emphasis on the prewar rights, the new deal right in the 1920s. what is there to learn now from the right before the new deal ? >> historian, the two hardest
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questions are where to begin and what to leave out and of course those are the two things everyone wants totalk about and criticize your book for once it's written . why did i begin this war at harding's inauguration in the spring of1921 ? i thought it was important to show the institutions that american conservatives saw themselves defending. conservatism is the defense of inherited institutions. american conservatives are in an unusual place. the institutions we are meant to defend on the institutions created by the american founding. olthe constitution, principles of the declaration of independence, the political theory of federalists but in 1942, many people on the right believed that a revolutionhad taken place in the nature of the american experience . and the nature of american governments and that they, the people on the right were
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defending the inherited institutions of the constitution against fdr and the new deal. so i thought it was important to show how the conservatives came to define themselves in opposition to the new deal. and prior to 1932, where progressivism would settle in the american political continuum was stillvery much up for grabs . teddy roosevelt aligned with the progressives but of course he was a very successful republican president. woodrow wilson aligned with progressives, he was a not so successful, successful in some ways democratic president. it wasn't until the 1920s with the republican party of harding and coolidge you saw the gop align itself against the left and say that we're going to define ourselves as the party of americanism. or as harding famously put it
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of normalcy. and the gop in the 20s was extraordinarilysuccessful . but evagainst the great depression delegitimized the gop's claim to provide prosperity to the average american world war ii delegitimized the rights foreign policy if not intervention in the eyes of mainstream american re electorate and so conservatism there had to kind of rethink reconfigure itself elfor the post-world war ii cold war era. that part of the story hadn't been told it had been told in some places . figures like justin ray who considered himself in the tradition of the old right wrote a book on the subject but i wanted to incorporate that story into the story of the postwar conservative movement and carry it through reagan and the most recent presidency of donald trump. >> it's always the kind of work that you are most engaged in, the efforts to
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reform our entitlement system. and to think about the role of government and often depicted by the left as attempts to restore pre-new deal america. is there some truth to that? is the american right still seeking some way to recover from an error made by fdr? >> you could make that argument 20 years ago. i don't think that's the case anymore. i think everyonehas reconciled themselves with this with what i guess i call the social contract . i think the country, the founders gave us a system designed to reach political consensus and when you do that you do big things. it's one of the reasons we're all enamored with the filibuster even when the issue comes against us. and so i don't think that's the case anymore. let's just take the social contract which is helping retirementsecurity or the old
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age for tlow income . you have consensus on the right and left and then the question if we agree with h that and i would argue most do on the right. if you agree with that the question is let's move on with making sure that's the case. and then you have to fight about left and right, about whether markets, whether choice, whether individualism is involved in this and if you're a progressive you see it as a way of extending governments reach in people's lives as many progressives do so i erthink the right has reconciled themselves with the social contract which was erected in that period between new deal and great society. this is what our budgets were all about which is not to repeal these things but to rework these programs so that they were actually, so that they work in the 21st century and didn't create a debt crisis, didn't bankrupt the country and use markets and choice and competition as a means of delivering on these
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goals without hamstringing the country. and slowing down growth, creating reserve currency bankrupting the country so i think we are there and populism. you wrote about this one. he and i fought about medicare and reform all the time and became clear there was no way he wanted to embrace that other than making good on the promise on repeal and replace it for me was an entitlement reform episode and we were one vote shy of getting that done in the senate. it wasn't popular in his mind and therefore it wasn't going to be pursued. that was frustrating to me but that gives you an example of where the right is now which is either we don't touch it or we reform it. like, revealing it is not in the cards. >> it's always a dilemma for the right in a variety of contexts . which left it's responding to
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so the right in america has always felt on the defensive because first and has to deal with the progressives, then fdr and then it has to deal with lbj. now we're in the obama area iraq and we're dealing with a great opening as we are here today and each time these left transform themselves and take on new guises, the right often have to do it as well. i was struck whenever i teach the founding documents of national review when the magazine waslaunched in 1955 , william f buckley junior is in many ways the central procurement protagonist of my story says conservatives against the new deal and were not sure if there could be any other kind. all aligned with national review's principles. for anamerican on the right today to read that , or to hear what paul said and said it clearly things have
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changed. what has changed a? the passage of time. and that small c conservative insect of we don't want to rock the boat. but also the left has changed too. and the left has moved on into new territory. in many ways we're not fighting over the new deal at so much as the cultural agenda of the left which really comes out i think of the antiwar counterculture movements of the late 1960s. and has and waxed and waned over these ensuing decades. >> i want to pick up on what you said about bill buckley being a central character that seems to me to be the case. your publisher put ronald reagan on the cover, you can see why. i think it corrupt to you you put bill buckley on the cover . what was william f buckley, what was his purpose, what was the movement he had in mind to create and if you
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think about national review and the rest of the massive buckleyprojects putting in the 50s , what was his ambition? >> i think has ambition as he put it at that young age when he comes on the scene in 1951 which got him in yale 26 years old, his ambition was and he said this to mike wallace in an early interview . he said i'm a counterrevolutionary and the revolution he wanted to overturn was fdr's revolution, the revolution of 1932. the change in the nature of the american social .contract, the new deal launched . so how do you go about doing this? there are many different avenues he pursued. the first was institution building. so in addition to national review, he was also nresponsible for the creation of work played a part in the creation of the intercollegiate studies institute. it's college arm the collegiate network. the young american freedoms,
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all of which still continue to this day. he also launched magazines quarterly for human life review which existed for many decades as a place for pro-life intellectuals . he did it in terms of trying t to build up the counter establishment. to recruit people who would inhabit these institutions , make conservative arguments who would be treated seriously by everyday americans watching the four channels they had access to in the 1960s. the he also wanted to build fences around conservatism. the big problem of the american right hein the aftermath of world war ii in the post-mccarthy period of the mid-1950s carrying through the early 1960s, mid-1960s was it was
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considered a french ideology. america was thought to be a liberal country but not necessarily a progressive one. the constitution and the bill of rights are liberal doctrines and these conservatives after all , buckley was a french critic of the popular republican president dwight eisenhower. these conservatives seemed a littlebit odd . the intellectual tides were all in the area of government expansion andregulation . figures like frederick hayek, milton friedman, fringe in the 1950s and 60s. buckley was very concerned in making conservatism respectable. and so he began drawing fences around his version of american conservatism . and going after anti-semitism , going after conspiracy theories . sayings that iran could be
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part of his movement because of her atheism. saying that the libertarians austrian economist could be part of his movement because he was an and arco capitalist. we would privatize everything,get rid of the state totally.national security also played a part in this . buckley's conservatism was one of engaged nationalism. america should be strong, america should be powerful and defend itself but it had to be engaged in the world to defeat and rollback thesoviet union and that the large military establishment, a standing army . that meant forward defense and forwarddeployment of our troops . it meant alliances like nato treatment interventions like vietnam all of which the earlier right would have been extremely skeptical if not outright opposed to so this is the version of american conservatism that buckley created. the last part of his legacy was political.
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working within the republican party, the traditional vehicle of american conservatism to turn it away from the moderate republicanism .e and towards conservatism. so he played an early role in the draftgoldwater campaign that culminated in 1964 in barry goldwater's nomination . his s nomination for president on the republican ticket ironically then the goldwater campaign which was managed by one of the most prominent presidents of this institution n, locked buckley out of the campaign so he was afraid goldwater would be associated with the national review and bill buckley but that kind of political energy also expressed itself in his early friendship with ronald reagan. and even got to the point later in his life where he was willing to intervene, buckley that is in democratic
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primaries. or support democratic candidates including one joe lieberman senate of connecticut in order to get rid of the original me tooer i came of age at the tail end of this so i started the austrians in college and friedman and grew up reading bob bartley stages. and i had a conservative professor who gave me his issue of national review, i didn't know what it was but y it was in the late 80s in college and he said i think you should take this and you should i'll just give you my copy when i'm done with it. and then i just consumed it and really talk to the national review so if you're a young vabudding conservative in the late 80s, early 90s this is the path he took and this is the movement you came into. we have different movements like this in different times
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when people are coming of age in the conservative movement and i think buckley of all people pretty much dominated for two or three decades the conservative ecosystem and nevertheless, you still have two people, john birchers and there was a big fight but he was the center of gravity. >> .. that had been missing for many
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years but now in the final years of the trump presidency, i think they are building their own infrastructure and it shows you, the importance of institution. [laughter] without these institutions, basis, the work and organizations, it leaves people writing in their basements. >> created this main screen for institutions, in a way built around ideas that would have been controversial in the old right but presented itself as a consensus, mainstream of the right. within those institutions there was a dividing line between traditionalists, between freedom and tradition that became
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defined the internal debate of the buckley movement and the attempt to overcome became known as fusion, a project of the buckley right at least in the 1960s, tell us what it was meant to be and what wasn't, did it make sense to solve the problem buckley prompted within his own camp? >> any ofpr the underappreciated histories was frank meyer, an ex- communist who converted to the right inng his reading. he became in jupiter to write leaning journals, american mercuryl and associated with national review. senior editor at national review and frank meyer, he'd been
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eetrained in dialectic and polec and he thought very dogmatically, this is what conservativism is so these are the parameters in which we willc operate an american conservativism. but we used to call in air traffic control making sure the planes were going in the right direction lander landing and taking off on time so in the 1960s, meyer who again has a libertarian strain to himus because of his love and appreciation begins disputes with other libertarians on the right over the nature of american defense establishment, standing army weapons programs and what the conservatives
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desire policy of rollback including military intervention was necessary. the rotarians, libertarians are not interventionists because workbook growth the state and produce individual freedom such in the course of the debate of libertarians meyer says i'm going to ascribe to you what american conservatism is an what american conservatism is tracing back to the american founding is a synthesis of individual liberty and traditional value, moral order. because the american founding took place for the great ruptures of the 19th century, before the french revolution, americans have beeno able to process these two principles, freedom and virtue, liberty and order. the twisted tree liberty, a great essay in his best friend,
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bill buckley's mother-in-law and the mother senior editor at national review moving toward a devout traditionalist policy at the time, a convert to catholicism became more and more devout as years went on, he read the essay and said that's ridiculous. freedom is not the end. what you're trying to do is some type of fusion so it's one of those works that begins to insult but these appropriate ana this is where the debate to begins, can you unify individual liberty traditional morality s people associated with national review said you could even if it didn't necessarily work out in erie it was revealed in
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practice, many american conservatism's themselves they can coexist even if it doesn't work. as conservatives we shouldn't worry about them, we should only be considered about the processa that wasn't enough for him on religious rights and he eventually broke off and it wasn't enough for libertarians who continue to critique buckley's conservativism as to state because of his belief you needed a powerful military to defeat communism so i see a lot of debates about the future of fusionism and continue to think it doesn't always work in theory. the closer youou look tonight breakdown but still works in practice when you look how people on the right live their
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lives. >> let me put it g this way, the rating coalitions, an example oe it but when you go to policy, the politics absolutely fusionism works so try working in congress and building a coalition, working majority in congress, it requires fusionism to come together and members of congress, people running for election except this. they know in a diverse country for working majority have to coexist coalition of people whot come from different regions andi backgrounds and philosophiesat within the conservative movement or progressives were you have to fuse them together so fusionism is essential for practical working majorities so in the think tank it's hard to
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rationalize but when you actually practice politics becomes essential. >> the coalition around this notion took shape to 1960s in the mid- 70s when the united states experienced an extremely difficult decade, the story you tell his story of vibrancy. i would say97 stepping back from the book the 1970s seemed like the most important decade as you described. what happened to the right in the 70s? how was a different coming out of the 1970s?es >> the simplest answer is new groups came to be associated with the american conservative movement in the 1970s and a
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lot of that played out as a result of the overreach of liberalists and radical left during the vietnam era during the late 1960s, 70s. people who would not have identified as being on the right and upcoming into alliance with the american conservativism the became a question of how conservatism would deal with these and i'll give you two examples. the first are built gavin, a speechwriter for richard nixon called streetcorner conservatives, these were conservatives not familiar with russell kirk, the great traditionalist offer. they often were democrat part of
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the fdr coalition and yet theel late 1960s and early 70s, he looked on the television screens and read the newspapers and said what happened to my country? rise in crime, rise and drug abuse, dissolving families, wrath of an argument over vietnam and revolution is taking place and moving into the republican column they come to be known as hardhats because they tend to be blue-collar, not having obtained a college degree so they enter this coalition in critical to the landslide when in 1972 and become part of the right over the years, the reagan democrats.
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they swerve and gingrich brings them in 1934. as a sentence, the truck silent majority were forgotten as another group as well but comes in in the 1970s, the neoconservatives. these were liberal anti-communists and democrats,at for the same reasons as the hardhats found themselves out of sync with allies on the left and the democratic party. not all of them make migration to the republic and party in the 1970s when irving kristol endorses richard nixon in 1972. it's a scandal and many of his fellow conservatives don't make the jump to the republican party well into the 1980s but these neoconservatives often well positioned within the liberal
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establishment are migrating to the right so the national review conservatives have to decide how they fit into the picture and i've always remembered the moment i read during research, and editorial in spring of 1971 and national review responding essays and commentary magazines clearly indicative of the editor of commentary at the time and moving to the right and the title of the editorial was come on in, the water is fine. so welcoming them, and finally the last group that enters the picture of the american right in the 1970s was religion rights. religious rights was dormant in many ways at least of the national political level the beginning of my story is because of federal positions and
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judicial rulings in the 1970s and also disappointment in the presidency of jimmy carter and uc evangelical mentalist christians from the democratic party into the republican colony, the american rights are very different once you have the reagan revolution because not only does it have the buckley way but it also has the hardhatg neoconservatives and religious rights. >> one thing, inside the party when i came of age was the supply-side movement which reinvigorated economics within the conservative movement, pain and suffering to growth opportunity so bob berkeley and the "wall street journal" editorial pages, they really reinvigorated and megan was not
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supply-side when he was governor, he became convert to it and californians but i can't on the supply-side, that reinvigorated an economic message that unified people. >> what does the supply centers they? >> the monetarist, the chicago press who was also a chicago guy, inside chicago university of chicago which was found money, richard took us off the gold standard and you had a big monetary policy fight which we never had before so you had supply ciders bringing answers to the inflation, bringing answers to tax reform to achieve
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economic growth and show how you could have growth and opportunity and bring an agenda which it was from some guy in jack kemp in 1978 and then 1981 and 82 after having passed the game cuts and then they basically proved supply side, kennedy got started because 92% in his day, they proved this, it's one of the things with tax reform, wanted fresh evidence of our ideas because we were all coasting on the fumes of the reagan revolution and tax cuts achieving higher income ability, lower wage workers getting faster wage growth, opportunity
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or cream because of the supply-side economics. we were running on 20-year-old evidence so we put back in place and got fresh evidence that it does work covid clearly threw a curve ball blasé supply-side movement was a debate within the establishment of the republic and part of the conservative movement where supply ciders prevail, past their ideas and that helps this stitch it together in my opinion so these strands of the 70s, when yoube look at them in a way that them are a strange combination of ideas and peculiar revolution, is brought together by ronald reagan. the striking thing about yourbo book is it doesn't really own it. a lot of them build up the ronald reagan and then down and say how far we've come down. that's not the argument you make it in a way for book struggles in every book about the right,
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how do you explain ronald reagan x what did he do? >> it's crazy, i don't think i'm going to be able --it >> example. >> mailer with the book the great biographer commissioned by megan himself and parts of it you open, they can be excellent. other parts were he found he had no idea what was going on behind that smile so he had to create himself as a fictional character in ronald reagan's part to bring out this person. i don't think anyone penetrated that smile. people like to take nancy reagan did but i'm not sure about that. i think ronald reagann was self-contained and very unusual for someone like that.
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he was always on stage but has had other qualities as well which is important and consequential. one was that his beliefs were very consistent over the decades. reagan shows up in my story in 1947. his capacity as deal in the hopper, a hollywood gossip columnist, she interviewed him about ron and what he's saying and what he's talking about, freedom and democracy in american exceptionalism in 19479 almost word for word what he said in his farewell address in the nation's january of 1989, very little in his basic belief system changes. i think part of it has to do briefly, the fact that he was very old, born in 1911, doesn't become republican until he's 51
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and vote for fdr four times but he had in his had a picture of what america was like before the new deal. again it's about practice rather than theory. for him, dixon illinois was america as it should be in that five the river was how america should live, everything that and that was in his bones. a few other things, he is oriented toward the future and at the get something he picked up from fdr. he looked at fdr speech is in the reagan speeches including reagan's it was addressed to fort goldwater in the last week in 1964, reagan taking up fdr's you and i, fdr looks at, reaganm does the same thing, you and me
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are talking, you are having a conversation and that orientation toward the future iy unusual for a conservative. as a conservative, i am looking to the passengers ronald reagand think about the future. and there's personal characteristics that make them fstand out in the american rights. a person i enjoyed learning about inviting about is senator robert taft, mr. republican, representative of the free world war ii right american entry into the nato after the war but robert taft who ran unsuccessfully for the republican nomination several times will be the first to tell you is not the most charismatic person around and conservatives to have this tendency to be pessimistic and gosh, the world is going to help in handcrafted, that wasn't ronald reagan.
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nothing phase him so this what made him unusual and also appealing to parts of the electorate typically when they hear the wordd conservative for american rights, they flinch. >> caveman. and here comes ronald reagan a smile, the movie star hair and people are like that not what i think of conservative in all these qualities, such an extraordinary figure. who may have been the exception in history of the american rights and not the rules. >> lived about 80 miles upstream from dixon now and the reason i mention that is because for ushi where i came from, is guy down the river became president of the united states, what is this?
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this is amazing. it brought people looking at a a catholic family, it was the entrées into let's see what this is about. that's what a lot of people from my family where i came from into wisconsin. he was an entry into conservative and he had great face, a great way that he was inviting people who never looked at it before so that's why he was an amazing intersection and life is fusion that occurred, the reagan coalition came together because of his personality and that is extremely rare. >> with reagan's departure in 1989 and was cut short because of his state gnosis in 1994 and with his lengthy retirement, buckley stretched out his retirement. first he retired from public
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speaking and then the board of national review and one thing he never retired from was the column. >> writing it todayah done. >> the departure of reagan and buckley, you lose those figures who almost every part of the right and certainly every faction within american conservatism in the conservative movement saw it as unifying. the practices and conflictual nature of the american right comes to the floor. >> you entered the political world, you got to washington after reagan, where does the right think it was headed after reagan? >> i was at power america by kirkpatrick, bill bennet and
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jack kemp, there's the fusion right the basically the heads of the three different movements, working with people, all products of living crystal so ia never thought much of it on the supply side because they spent a lot of time in those days and we were inviting them so they -- it was funny, it was guys like that at the national review, it wasn't weekly status cap that product for american future i think, you had for the meal cons biden to pay the cones and other groups in their. when the reagan year ended the defeat of h.w. bush by clinton, a ton of soul-searching was going on in the conservative movement turned inward and shot
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at each other and not until this emerged, a nominee in this case it was w who one and he worked on the conservatism and it never took hold, it never really took place, a solid fusion because of circumstances, wars and the rest, i won't get into it all but in the post- reagan era when clinton won, we were in an internal struggle for the future of the conservative movement and i think we still are. we've had pauses in one white house is but never settled into a posture of majoritarian center right movement capable of consistent majorities, presidencies and putting in place a governing agenda and
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that is still underway and is dominated by trump right now, you are populism. a personality populism which is really not the agenda, it is person so i when we are still in this and under this is the fight we had in the early 90s, the kind of fight we were having right now but with digital. >> how do you think about that turn? in your way, described as similar and continuous and reagan is kind of an exception but there's a way in which populism rose to the forefront in the 90s, we don't think of the 90s that way now but it was a time when the populism held in some ways, it became the face of the right, what you think of a post- reagan years?
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>> one of the big things of my book is a relationship between conservatism and populism and the irony that oftentimes the only way conservatives get into power is through populist c politics which conservatives like about meyer who were often in the conflict about it. this is clearly evident in the reagan election, populism being one of the driving forces, reagan able to synthesize populism with the supply-side agenda, interest of the religious rights, tax cuts defense buildup among the various factions of the american right as well. this is departure from the scene this argument begins and i always thought it was interesting, the 1988 gop primary in many ways missed opportunity because you have a moment where the republican party could have been forced to
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choose between jack kemp and buchanan. he doesn't run for president, he waits until 1992 because hees recognizes reagan successors are probably going to be george h debbie bush who's not a reagan, establishment the public. there we get the fight between established republicanism representative by bush and buchanan 1992 represented populist wing, representing the surgeons of the rights and attitudes before war and toward immigration and then really beginning in bikinis camping picking up the trade issue as well so that debate is had but buchanan is never successful. in 2000 he leaves the republican
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party and runs for president on the reform side for his rival is a businessman named donald trump and i think buchanan is the first to recognize the irony 16 years later trump dissents to the presidency on many of the ideas he was blasting buchanan about in the 2000 cycle so at the moment i doed think the argument settled in the force of the populism and the conservative governing class that came to power with ronald reagan lassiter the first george edbush, kind of moved up togr capitol hill during the republican revolution gingrich and then came back down pennsylvania avenue with george w. bush. that concerning governing class was about 30 years and has been
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displaced. >> i look at my time in congress as two. with the majority and then lost it when obama came in and then we got it back in this book i hadn't seen in years -- [laughter] is outputted to jittery on that name but our goal was to recruit numbers of congress who were willing to take tough votes a because what happened to our majority was we got fat and lazy. they recruited local county executive for state senator was the next guy in line who just wanted to earmark their way in so are moving, intellectually lazy, fat and happy and was ugly and those of us were young upstarts in the house and did not like that. we lose our majority, many of us argued it was our own and then we recruited people we thought
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would be willing to take tough votes and we were excited about the tea party movement to i remember talking with the tea party movement, it was our chance to get supply-side 2.0 and 1.0 was deficit by the government. 2.0 is not. supply-side 2.0 2 force for word economics, limited government,en entitlement under control and robust policy and the issues of trade and immigration, it was a fight but we sort of pushed that to the side and we got the majority back but it was a divided government so we couldn't do much. >> in retrospect, is that what the tea party was? >> in the beginning it was but it was a fight in this is that field yell supply-side we called
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it back in those days, trade and immigration versus the other issues in hindsight, just me looking back, we didn't understand, i think in this is where i think we make mistakes,, we didn't understand the potency, the power of the issues in a book about populism in the 80s where we could see signs of this, where the establishment were publicans, people like me included, the effects of issues like trade and immigration and how that played into hatch's policy but people thinking and perception and we were moretyt focused on the tea party movement, libertarian supply-side all of us more or less agreeing on strong national defense to the isolation hadn't crept in like it is now at that time and what ended up happening was think trade immigration sort of overtook the movement and the tea party morphed into something
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like what is today so there was a moment in time where we really thought we had a shot. when we did finally get our majorities and republican whicho we lost in 12, people freaked out, i was on the ticket, it wasn't fun losing in 12. [laughter] but when we lost in 12, i think people really kind of freakedsp out and then what happened from my perspective was, not having these nice guys on the ticket, no more nice guys, let's just send a velociraptor on the ticket to throw hand grenades so the entertainment wing of our party was cable, rose to the time and i think the entertainers sort of replaced sort of the intellectual rights so the country against a progressive reactionary barack obama to the best entertainer,
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the bestie could, ted finished second and he was the inside bentertainer and that was the greatest sponsor he could find in the truth donald trump at it and they want. >> remember ben kherson -- >> he was pleading for about a month or so. >> all outsiders in this i think testifies the importance of the 2012 election. i think we would be in the beginning of the first term as presidency have that gone a different way. [laughter] the world would to be a very different place but i agree with what paul is saying, 2012 was a hinge in the sense that i think many people on the right internalized the idea that because of american exceptionalism barack obama had to be jimmy carter reborn and he
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could only be one term because he was so interested in moving america in thedi direction where it had not gone for many years. as he said, his ambition was to be progressive greg just as consequential to change politics in a similar way so the right i think really believed this was going to be water, this is the battle. so early in the evening by the 11:00 news many people on the right were just stunned. >> try being on the ticket. [laughter] >> i can imagine. that made them say all right, if we are reaching where the electoral inputs, we elect scott
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brown in massachusetts the obama does obamacare anyway, we have congress but they are not able to do anything. in 14 we get a republican wave again and it captures the senate and after election in 2014 obama says i heard the people voted republicans in congress but i also hear the f people who voted for democrats and the people who didn't vote at all and i'm going to govern for those people. it is infuriating. the elections should matter and they didn't so it drove a lot of people on the right to say we need an external force to come shakeup system and that the only way we're going to be able to achieve our goals and they got it. >> i want to open up fornk questions. please think of your questions but one follow-up and he mentioned three issues,
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immigration trade, those were the issues where things broke open after that moment voters on the right but this isn't working. why were those issues -- does that really mean the consensus on those in the bush years was an illusion, the right was wrong what it's voters wanted and were voting? >> if it was an illusion, it should have been apparent even at the time. as a reporter i was covering the immigration debate during george w's second term and i worked for magazines the editors were supportive of the comprehensive immigration reform it would have included in illegal immigrants but my reporting said there's no way that would happen because even if it passed the senate, republicans in the house would not allow it because they were hearing from constituents and that's when you begin to see aot break between the grassroot rights and conservative and
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republican establishment over the issue of immigration. the war is more competent because for a while provoking voters stood behind the republic and president launched wars in afghanistan and iraq theng beginning in 2007, the rise of ron paul liberty movement you see discontent on the right george w. bush foreign policy. protectionism is a little more comforted. i think what trump did coming out against this partnership or tpp as said throughout the campaign was basically, provide a concrete symbol for the depths of despair ravaging america, the
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opioid crisis for the rise and alcoholism for this unimaginable social crisis. he said is that deindustrialization, china's entry into the world trade organization and china shop, that's what's giving this. whether that is true i believe is an empirical russian, for conjugated but clinically it is brilliant and he did a similar thing with immigration, comforted issue barely illegal immigration is somethingin publicans, the conservatives opposed but what happened with the rise of isis, the jv team in the second half of obama's second term, at the shooting in san bernardino, trump imposes
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the muslim fan and he's able to take immigration and combine it with national security and all of a sudden we need to close thb borders, not just to prevent people from coming in who might search for jobs but we need to make america safe. you see how he's able to thread the issues together in 2016 which is a postscript i would say nothing he was not able to do in 2020. >> let's open up for questions. i don't ask that you ask a question rather than make a statement.onou >> raise your statement in the form of a question. [laughter] >> also please wait for a microphone and tell us you are when we call on you for questions. let's start in the back. >> i work at third way. one reason we have these
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discussions about this is because it's become apparent a lot of small government popular was voted on social security and medicare and aca are politically toxic now so what does that mean for the future of the american right and conservatism? >> working on a book project here on answering that question and there are about 18 of us working on this project. i think you have to reconcile life with these programs. like we said, no deal -- these are subtle issues, then the question is how do you go about achieving those in the best possible way to maximize upper mobility growth, limited government in your economy? once you get over the fact that
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programs exist and we have a social contract we all agree should exist, then let's get on to the task of repairing them from bankrupt in making them reform the past. were you then go is the left wants government to run it all, no private sector, they want command of resources, means of production, they want to use it as extension of their ideology. we want to use the power of market and choice and competition to deliver these services as a country we reach a consensus on.ou that may sound -- it's just radical pragmatism. we are where we do agree these things are here and should stay so let's get on with business of performing tasks the right way so we don't lose reserve currencies and a debt crisis because if that happens, imagine
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what happens to the chaos and polarization in the country go down the path in ten or 20 years, we lose reserve currencies, things explode and then you have a total debt crisis with real-time surgery taking benefits away from people in real life, real-time, that's what would happen if we do nothing so conserving these things you have to be a step ahead but you have to win the argument in wind majorities and have a president willing to stick their neck out to get it done. i think that is the key task of the conservative movement. >> right here, please. >> i think matt, he made a reference to the iraqi war, could you address where the
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public and voters sour on that conflict? i asked because i thought of a powerful moment in the 16 campaign was when donald trump really had a moment in the debate early on where he eviscerated that in a passionate way. i thought it was a cheap shot but i think his history or post- history was pretty spot on in it that it would resonate and i wonder if you could identify or when you felt that was sour upon by republican voters. >> is a company to question because i think public opinion with began turning against the war after the bombing in 2006 and the onset of civil war in iraq and whether war began spinning out of control. public opinion was also ambivalent about the search policy in iraq sending more
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troops and changing our strategy there mccain and romney engaged in a mini debate in the run up to the primaries in 2008 at the debate mccain who strongly supported the search one so t en then we could still see winning in iraq or achieving stability that will allow us leave and exit forces from the country was still powerful among publicans. i think what was going on when trump attacked bush over the war and he said w lied us into war, iraq was part of it but there was also much more, it was more about ending the bush era, turning the page on the bush era. you think about the condition of america in 2015, clearly we wer. ending a polarizing two-term
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presidency with barack obama the situation overseas, the situation domestically is not good yet who do the two parties offer? bush and hillary clinton, another part of the bush dynasty and you can't get more establishment and hillary clinton on the left so trump is basically saying bush is over because this disappointment in the iraq war, still huge discontent and opposition to comprehensive immigration reform which of course bush wrote a book about prior to his run in the economic legacy of the bushh presidency which ended with global financial crisis and great recession also in the back of footers heads so i think that
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played a part. i will also say important moment is not trump's victory in the republican primary. lddonald trump won about 45% of the total vote in the republican primary in 2016. had he lost the general election, i think the anti- trump forces was still have had a good position and that debate, a debate between populism and conservatism for 100 years as i say in my book, it would be morr evenly matched. the decisive moment was trump winning the presidency and winning it on kind of a fluke, 30,000 votes i think in three states is an electoral college victory. once you become resident, who are the most famous person in the world and the most importanb person in the world he be next to the fed to chair but one or the other. [laughter]
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but definitely the most important person in your party. you define alternatives and sett the agenda and you set an example so it's not donald trump winning the nomination as a consequence, is him running the presidency been president for four years that transforms the republican party and the conservative movement. >> our time is drawing to a close, there's much more to be said. i wonder if we and with each off you thinking about the future of the rights. this book ends at the end of the trump era, maybe trump the trump era, it is now. we will see where we are.hi where are we? how do you think based on your thinking about the past 100 years of the american rights, how do you think about where the right is headed in the generation of the right -- what does the future look like? >> i would say it is important american conservatismca remember it's america and what makes
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american conservatism distinct is reference to the american founding and political institutions it is always met with liberty and freedom. i worry sometimes the right today drawn to models and europe, which is a different right, not an american right and even though i think the terrain of our politics shifted from argument over the size and scope of government to an argument over the size and scope of the less cultural power policy may be leveraged to diminish, if we forget american conservatism, the right will be very different than it has been for the 100 years i write aboutad. also we will not be able to sustain a political coalition
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that would attract nonpolitical everyday americans living their livessw looking for answers to these concrete policy challenges. >> i can become iraq radical traditionalists, i didn't put thought into the institution because i was busy ruminating policy committee chairs. then when iran the legislative branch, and became an institutionalist for what you said basically which is we have to have it conservative movement tethered to principles that isqu uniquely american. i think the blood and soil nationalist, this european labor of populism here on the right, it disregards the uniqueness of the american idea of a country based on national law. the reasons for that, i won't get into all of that but to me
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it's extremely important the conservative movement dedicate itself to critical institutions dedicated to these founding principles so you have a course standard on which you operate and then it's a movement that can have great debates on policy matters within the spirit of these principles and we won't get there until you have a party or movement capable of having a strong direct debate not dominated by just ones personality so this populism is one not tethered to principles. we can get to populism and i think we will, that's tethered to principles with vibrant debate and the way i look at from an economics in numbers you great competition with china and technology and on and on, we don't have a whole lot of time to get right but i do believe
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the country is yearning toward this, still center right country so the question is, can we put together a movement that can move and accommodate and access different fashions in a new fusion that's a center right fusion that has men and women capable of carrying the torch, multiple, not just one so we can win elections, effectuate change, dodge bullets with existential problems in this country and have a great 21st american century and i think we can but we are not there now and we've got to go through things together. >> that is a note to end on and we will end there. the book is the right 100 year war for american conservatism. [applause]
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>> thanks for writing. ♪♪ >> american history tv saturdays on c-span2 exploring people and events that tell the american story. 8:50 p.m. eastern workplace, professor of musicology, american culture at the university of michigan because the history of the star-spangled banner and how its meaning has evolved. 10:00 p.m. eastern author and professor patrice donaldson reports on how black soldiers between the civil war and world war i use their military service to further civil rights. exploring the american story. watch american history tv saturdays on c-span2 and find a full schedule on your program guide or watch online anytime at ♪♪ >> book tv every sunday on
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more including medco. ♪♪ ♪♪ >> medco along with these television companies support c-span2 is a public service. >> monthly author interview program in-depth, carol swain, former political science and law professor at vanderbilt university and vice chair president terms 1776 commission joined us to talk about critical race theory, the 1619 project, immigration and more. here's a portion of that conversation. >> critical race theory first of all, it is a theory permeating every institution in america and
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the people pushing that theory, they argue as you know, pretty much american beliefs, i will talk about the world, there are critical theories, critical theory has marxist roots but all flights are pressures, they have racism in their dna, they are born with inheritance based on their skin color and they consciously become antiracist by renouncing racism and there are a lot of things about it but people are supposed to confess their sins like a religion, they are supposed to constantly
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repeat their sins but there's no redemption like the christian religion, there's redemption, you confess your sins to one time. it's not a constant confession of sins. it argues racism is permanent, minorities of our permanent victims and it is something the people pushing it forward strongly believe in it what i argue in the book is i argue that it's racist, un-american, it runs counter to our civil rights laws and constitution and it's the civil rights issue of our day. i think anyone who understands the law understands it is wrong to demean, shame and bully people because of the color of their skin. it doesn't matter if they are white, black or asian, it's wrong to demean and bully people because of the color of their skin and not all white people --
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not all white people are similarly situated and not all black people are disadvantaged and it cripples our children so we are talking about white children or black children, they are crippled by critical race theory and it been taught and pushed across america and unfortunately we will find it and secular schools as well as religious schools and it's become like a religion and something people need to understand fully and one reason i wrote the book but i want americans to understand what critical theory is, where it came from, how it impacts our society and how we can fight back against it. i think it is very important and that americans seek solutions and unite across racial ethnic and political lines


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