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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 Conservative Ronald Reagan

A New Kind of Conservative Ronald Reagan

(p.190) 7 A New Kind of Conservative Ronald Reagan
A Time for Choosing

Jonathan M. Schoenwald

Oxford University Press

Ronald Reagan was the most dynamic force in American political conservatism in 1965, and any group that wanted to make a big media splash, raise funds for its cause, or simply energize its members, got the former Democrat to stop by on, as he called it, his “mashed potato circuit”. Like William F. Buckley, Jr.'s followers, Reagan's supporters saw him as a means to regrouping and partially reconfiguring the conservative movement. California was the perfect place to test whether conservatism had indeed weathered the storm. Reagan's campaign was engineered to spark wide-scale conservatism by capturing the most valuable state in the union. For many conservative Californians and non-Californians, Reagan embodied the hope for a conservative country. Reagan represented the conviction that conservatism could leave the realm of the extraordinary to become the ordinary, the status quo rather than the enfant terrible. The growth of conservative interest groups rose from a combination of the migration of extremists out of their own circles into areas devoted to more mainstream issues and years of work behind the scenes.

Keywords:   Ronald Reagan, political conservatism, California, America, extremists

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