Comservatism in the United States Essay

Submitted By michaeleinmund
Words: 3650
Pages: 15

Conservatism in the United States: From the New Deal to “The Contract with America”
Historian Gregory Schneider has defined American Conservatism as respect for the “rule of law and Christian religion” and revere "Western civilization from the challenges of modernist culture and totalitarian governments." While there are several different strains of Conservatism in American and in Western politics, “Traditionalist Conservatives” and “Libertarian Conservatives” tend to favor free market enterprise, tax cuts, and lassie-faire economic policies. Traditionalists also hold great respect for the established order and Judeo-Christian principles. Traditionalist and Social Conservatives oppose same-sex marriage, abortion, and gun control. They tend to support school choice, school prayer and capital punishment.
While conservatism has played a part in American politics since its inception, the modern conservative movement has its inception following World War II. There was a briefly lived conservative era during the Coolidge and Hoover administrations however many Americans blamed Hoover’s policies for causing the Great Depression. The American people rejected the conservative ideals of Herbert Hoover and his Republican party and elected Franklin Delano Roosevelt as president in 1932. Roosevelt believed that direct government intervention in the economy was necessary to relieve economic hardship. Roosevelt set out to create several new government agencies under his “New Deal” program. The size of the federal government further expanded from 1941 to 1945 when the country was in the grip of the Second World War.
Following America’s victory in the Second World War the country emerged stronger and more powerful than ever before. In the post-war world the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were the two unmatched superpowers. Whether Roosevelt’s “New Deal” really did enough to end the Great Depression continues to be a matter of debate, the end of the depression and the war were seen as ideological victories for America’s left. However, as the 1940’s faded into the 50’s, a resurrection in conservative ideology began to take place.
Beginning around this time period Wisconsin Senator, Joseph McCarthy began to root out the growth of Liberalism in America through scare tactics. McCarthy, who sat on the Committee on Government Operations and was Chairperson for federal investigations of the Communist in the U.S government went on a witch hunt to expose liberals in the U.S. government or in U.S. society and brand them as communist. Further attempts to organize the “New Right” were coincided with the economic philosophies of Austrian economist Fredrick Hayek. In his 1944 book, “The Road to Serfdom” Hayek argued that further government intervention into the economy would lead to socialism. Hayek was also an activist for free market capitalism and founded the Mont Pelerin Society in 1947 to advocate for capitalist goals. Conservatives rallied behind Hayek and his friend Milton Friedman of Brooklyn, New York. Friedman believed and stated in his 1962 book “Capitalism and Freedom” that the sole purpose of government was to allow individuals to pursuit their own freedoms. Friedman argued the government had a very limited role in the lives of the people both economic and private.
In 1955, conservative intellectual William Buckley Jr. founded the magazine, The National Review. The magazine stated in its first issue, that its mission is to convince society that government’s only real role is to protect the “life, liberty, and property” of its people. The magazine to this day is unapologetic in its anti-socialist, anti-globalist, and anti-liberal views, which has led to its major success.
By 1964, the “New Right” was gaining in influence in party politics. 1964 was to be important year in American history, for that year would be an election year and the winner would drive America either to the hard left or right. A year earlier John F.