But when John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960, conservatives-editor William F. Buckley, Jr., John Birch Society leader Robert Welch, and thousand of students-formed a movement to challenge the center-left consensus. They chose as their hero Barry Goldwater-a rich, handsome Arizona Republican who scorned the federal bureaucracy, reviled dtente, despised liberals on sight-and grew determined to see him elected President.
Goldwater was trounced by Lyndon Johnson in 1964. But by the campaign's end the consensus found itself squeezed from the left and the right; and two decades later, the conservatives had elected Ronald Reagan as President and Goldwater's ideas had been adopted by Republicans and Democrats alike.
The story of the rise of conservatism during a liberal era has never been told, and Rick Perlstein's gutsy narrative history is full of portraits of figures from Nelson Rockefeller to Bill Moyers. Perlstein argues that the 1964 election led to a key shift in U.S. politics-from concerns over threats from abroad to concerns about disorder at home; from campaigns plotted in back rooms to those staged for television....Continua