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The Conservative Ascendancy: How the GOP Right Made Political History

Recorded on December 6, 2007

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Van Andel Center

Despite significant losses in the 2006 midterm elections, the Republican Right remains a powerful and defining force in American politics.  Donald Critchlow, a leading historian of American conservatism, shows that time and again the GOP Right appeared defeated, only to rebound with explosive force.  The ascendancy of the GOP Right was not preordained, nor was its political triumph inevitable.  Rather, the history of the postwar Right was one of fierce political warfare as moderate Republicans battled right-wing Republicans for control of their party, and conservatives battled liberals for control of government.  In the struggle against the dominant New Deal state, conservatives gained control of the Republican Party, but their advance against liberalism and the Democratic Party proved less steady.

The Conservative Ascendancy captures the twists and turns of the GOP Right over the last sixty years, offering a story of how deeply held beliefs about the nature of the individual and the good society are translated into political power.

Donald T. Critchlow is the author and editor of fourteen books on modern American politics, public policy and business.  He is a Professor of History at Saint Louis University and editor of the Journal of Policy History.