Thursday, January 24, 2008

Were Republicans 'the Party of Ideas'?

By Robert Parry
January 24, 2008

Hillary Clinton took a cheap shot at Barack Obama in suggesting that he liked the right-wing policies from the past couple of decades. But it’s troubling, too, that Obama would buy into Washington’s conventional wisdom that “the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time.”

The truth is that the Republicans weren’t the folks with a monopoly on “ideas” as much as they were the ones who invested billions and billions of dollars in a media/think tank infrastructure that promoted their ideas no matter how dated or dubious they were.

Read on.


dave porreca said...


What a great article. Your basic point about the disparity in infrastructure between left and right is absolutely crucial if we are to understand the last 40 years of American political history. The rise of conservatism had virtually nothing to do with merit and everything to do with financial backing. Without the largesse from right-wing foundations that enabled their propagation, most conservative policy ideas would never have entered mainstream discourse much less dominated it.

And, of course, let's not forget Lionel Trilling's remark from more than 50 years ago: Conservativism consists not so much of ideas as irritable mental gestures seeking to resemble ideas.

dave porreca said...

"Conservativism" should be "conservatism." My typo. Although, if you believe that an honorable conservative intellectual tradition exists but that the current movement represents a grotesque perversion of it, then "conservativism" might not be a bad name for the latter.