Red State, Blue State

Posted on April 18, 2005
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Today it's hard to imagine that America was once a blue nation.

With Republicans now in control of all three branches of the federal government, and a majority of state houses and governorships, few Americans remember a time when conservatives were in the minority, let alone marginalized.

But in 1950, the political observer could look out upon the American landscape and see nothing but liberalism.

Liberalism's triumph was so complete that the leading literary critic of the time, Lionel Trilling, famously remarked that it was "not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition" in America.

But by 2004, America's political and intellectual climate had undergone a sea change, culminating in the election of George W. Bush to a second term in office.

The story of conservatism's remarkable rise to power during the intervening 40 years is the subject of The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America, an endlessly fascinating and carefully researched book by Adrian Wooldridge and John Micklethwait, two British journalists whose work is normally found in the pages of the Economist.

Wooldridge, who spoke recently at the Goldwater Institute, believes predictions of a breakup of the conservative movement are unfounded. But just how successful the conservative movement will be at implementing additional long-term reforms remains to be seen.

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