The Founding of Conservatism
Play • 40 min

Many if not most conservatives in the United States have very little idea where the conservative movement originated and how it developed. This episode provides an extremely condensed summary of the founding of conservatism in the wake of World War II, as well as a bit about its history since then. Key points include:

·      American conservatism is a modern political movement with postwar origins. It does not extend back to the founding, Edmund Burke, etc.

·      Contrary to its stated commitment to timeless principles, the beliefs of conservatism have continuously and even radically changed over time. 

·      Conservatism was originally a tiny movement of people on the margins who achieved successes that were probably inconceivable to their founders. 

·      Conservatism was originally separate from the Republican Party, then one faction within, and now today has become indistinguishable from it. The Republican Party is monolithically conservative today.

·      Social conservatives, as we understand the term today, were not originally part of the conservative movement and joined it much later in the 1970s and 80s. 

Further reading for those interested in the history of conservatism:

George Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 (considered the canonical history of the movement up through the mid-1970s)

George Hawley, Right Wing Critics of American Conservatism  (written by a University of Alabama professor)

Paul Gottfried, Conservatism in America (the "loser's history" from a paleoconservative, written on an academic press).

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Matthew Continetti on Rush Limbaugh's legacy
On February 17, 2021, conservative radio broadcaster Rush Limbaugh passed away at the age of 70. From his humble origins as a rock music DJ in Cape Girardeau, MO, Rush rose to become one of the most recognizable names and voices in radio history, media history and of the modern American political scene. Enabled by the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, The Rush Limbaugh Show went national in 1988, bringing Rush and his “Excellence in Broadcasting” network to radios from coast to coast. At its peak, the program was heard on over 600 radio stations and attracted more than 20 million listeners a week.A cheerleader for conservative causes, Rush was no stranger to controversy. Indeed, in many ways he courted it by, in his own words, illustrating absurdity by being absurd. In doing so, he inspired derision from his opponents as well as the loyalty of his listening audience. What is the significance of Rush Limbaugh to American conservatism and what influence did he have our modern political culture? In this episode, we talk with Matthew Continetti, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, about Rush’s legacy and his place in conservative history and conservative politics. Matthew Continetti - American Enterprise Institute Rush Limbaugh, RIP: 6 quotations on socialism, the Founding Fathers, and life - Rev. Ben Johnson Rush Limbaugh on clergy who accept socialism - Rev. Ben Johnson Rise of the national conservatives with Matthew Continetti - Acton Line Register for Business Matters 2021 Subscribe to Acton Institute Events podcast See for privacy and opt-out information.
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