Since its ascent, American conservatism has been torn between the need to appeal to the political mainstream and the pull of extreme impulses. Joseph McCarthy, George Wallace, Pat Buchanan, and Ron Paul all anticipated Trump’s rise with populist challenges to the conservative establishment. From the John Birch Society to January 6, conservative intellectuals have struggled against the presence of conspiracy theories and violent fringes in the movement.
While the conservative movement may find itself divided intellectually and politically by the Trump presidency, its past nonetheless suggests it has a future. The defense of the American experiment in limited, constitutional self-government remains an enduring theme of American conservatism at its best. Liberalism’s idealism and populist radicalism’s emphasis on repudiating institutions will remain consistent political temptations that must be opposed.
“The Right” argues that if conservatism is to find its way, it must once again defend the essential moderation of the American political system against these excesses.
Throughout the 20th century, conservatism accomplished this on the grandest scale, solving crises such as urban crime and inflation while playing a decisive role in defeating the Soviet Union. As American values continue to be challenged today, a conservative affirmation of those ideas remains more essential than ever.
Continetti blends intellectual and political history to reimagine the mainsprings of conservative success, with populism serving as a source of energy for conservatives as well as a threat to the high principles that many of them hold dear. His engaging history moves at a brisk pace, presenting brief portraits of key figures and connecting them to major events and trends. With a combination of workmanlike prose and fresh thinking, Continetti has written what could become one of the great books of conservative self-definition, deserving shelf space beside the likes of The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America by George H. Nash and The Conservative Sensibility by George F. Will.John J. Miller
(Director of the journalism program at Hillsdale College)
(Washington Post columnist & author of “The Conservative Sensibility”)
(Review for “The Right”)
(Director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and author of “A Time to Build”)
(Former editor in chief of National Review)
Matthew Continetti is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where his work focuses on American political thought and history, with a particular focus on the development of the Republican Party and the American conservative movement in the 20th century.
A prominent journalist, analyst, author, and intellectual historian of the right, Continetti is the founding editor of The Washington Free Beacon. Previously, he was opinion editor at The Weekly Standard.
Continetti is also a contributing editor at National Review and a columnist for Commentary magazine. He has been published in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, among other outlets. He also appears frequently on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report” with Bret Baier and MSNBC’s “Meet the Press Daily” with Chuck Todd.
Continetti is the author of two previous books: “The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star” (Sentinel, 2009) and “The K Street Gang: The Rise and Fall of the Republican Machine” (Doubleday, 2006).
He has a BA in history from Columbia University.
Hear from the American Enterprise Institute and receive access to updates on Matthew Continetti’s book, “The Right: The Hundred Year War for American Conservatism.”