The Death of Conservatism?


On September 9, 2009, author and journalist Sam Tanenhaus came to the New America Foundation to discuss his new book, The Death of Conservatism. Tanenhaus, Editor of the Book Review and Week in Review at The New York Times and biographer of Whittaker Chambers and William F. Buckley, Jr., traced the intellectual history of "movement conservatism" from the philosophies of Edmund Burke to the presidency of George W. Bush. Along the way, he argued, conservatism's goals shifted from conservation and stability to radicalism and "revanchism." Tanenhaus made the provocative claim that, in retrospect, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton look like the only truly conservative presidents, because they preserved and refined the achievements of their predecessors. Ultimately, it was conservatives' emphasis on ideology over pragmatism that led to Republicans defeats in 2006 and 2008 and banished the movement to the political wilderness.

Michael Lind, Policy Director of the Economic Growth Program at New America, moderated the question and answer session that followed Tanenhaus' remarks. Questions touched upon the success of movement conservatism in shifting the political narrative in Washington, the influence of neoconservative Democrats such as Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and the movement's future within the Republican Party.


Featured speaker
Sam Tanenhaus
Editor, Book Review and Week in Review
The New York Times
Author, The Death of Conservatism

Michael Lind
Policy Director, Economic Growth Program
New America Foundation