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Governing AmericaThe Revival of Political History$
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Julian E. Zelizer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691150734

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691150734.001.0001

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Rethinking the History of American Conservatism

Rethinking the History of American Conservatism

(p.68) Four Rethinking the History of American Conservatism
Governing America

Julian E. Zelizer

Princeton University Press

This chapter challenges the prevailing framework that has shaped most of the literature on American conservatism and explores issues that need to be addressed in order to fundamentally rethink the history of American conservatism. Historians differ in their interpretations of the history and evolution of conservatism in contemporary politics. Some emphasized the importance of race in defining conservative objectives and in explaining their electoral appeal, while others objected to claims about Southern Exceptionalism while agreeing on the centrality of a racial backlash. A different cohort of scholars stressed the importance of anticommunism. After analyzing the fragmented nature of the scholarship of conservatism and the challenges encountered by conservatives when dealing with policy change, the chapter examines how conservatism unfolded in a dialectical fashion with liberalism rather than as a replacement of liberalism.

Keywords:   liberalism, American conservatism, politics, race, Southern Exceptionalism, anticommunism, policy change

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