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A Time for ChoosingThe Rise of Modern American Conservatism$
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Jonathan Schoenwald

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195157260

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195157260.001.0001

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A New Kind of Conservatism the John Birch Society

A New Kind of Conservatism the John Birch Society

(p.62) 3 A New Kind of Conservatism the John Birch Society
A Time for Choosing

Jonathan M. Schoenwald

Oxford University Press

The John Birch Society (JBS) is the premier example of right-wing activism in the early 1960s. JBS became more visible, but its potential to wield political power was untested. Clearly some conservatives — namely the extremists — had entered a new era, and liberals were only now finding out what they were up against. The contributions of Robert H. W. Welch, Jr. on JBS are described. Birchers distinguished themselves from the rest of the population in many ways, not least by their choice to join an organization that ardently and aggressively criticized the government. The JBS forced the government to reconsider what was acceptable political behavior on the Right as well as on the Left. But between the advent of the JBS and the dawning of the 1964 election, the first true political litmus test for conservatives since the early 1950s, was an event that helped both to spark and to assess the conservative consolidation: the case of General Edwin A. Walker.

Keywords:   John Birch Society, conservatism, extremists, conservatives, Robert Welch, Edwin A. Walker

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