Leviathan on the Right

How Big‐​Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution

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About the Book

For conservatives generally and the Republican Party in particular, now is a time of intense soul‐​searching. For the first time in a dozen years, Republicans have lost control of Congress. As a result, they are being forced to reexamine who they are and what they stand for.

It’s about time. After all, more than a decade has passed since President Bill Clinton announced in his State of the Union address that “the era of big government is over.” Yet, since then, government has grown far bigger and far more intrusive. It spends more, regulates us more, and reaches far more into our daily lives than it did before the Republican Revolution. Behind this alarming trend stands the rise of a new brand of conservatism—one that believes big government can be used for conservative ends. It is a conservatism that ridicules F. A. Hayek and Barry Goldwater while embracing Teddy and even Franklin Roosevelt. It has more in common with Ted Kennedy than with Ronald Reagan.

Leviathan on the Right provides an incisive analysis of the roots and core beliefs of big‐​government conservatism and the major currents that fueled its growth—neoconservatism, the Religious Right, supply‐​side economics, national greatness conservatism, and Newt Gingrich–style technophilia—and offers a detailed critique of its policies on a wide range of issues.

The book contains a clear warning that, unless conservatives return to their small‐​government roots, the electoral defeat of 2006 is just the beginning.

Leviathan on the Right is the recipient of the Lysander Spooner Award for Advancing the Literature of Liberty.

About the Author

MICHAEL D. TANNER is director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute and is the leading advocate for private Social Security retirement accounts. He is also the editor of Social Security and Its Discontents, named by Choice magazine as one of its outstanding academic titles of 2003.

What Others Have Said

“George W. Bush, reviled by the left ever since he became president, has recently accomplished the feat of acquiring a new and unlikely set of detractors. The longer he flounders in domestic and foreign policy, the more a vocal contingent of intellectuals and columnists allied to the Republican Party is attacking him. Unlike that of most Bush critics, however, their complaint isn’t that the president has veered too far to the right. It’s that he isn’t conservative enough. In Leviathan on the Right, Michael D. Tanner offers the fullest exposition of this line of reasoning to date. Tanner is a lucid writer and vigorous polemicist who scores a number of points against the Republican Party’s fiscal transgressions.”
The New York Times Book Review

“In this thorough political analysis, Tanner examines the transformation of conservative doctrine in America, decrying the movement towards big‐​government spending. Since being elected, George W. Bush has allowed the largest expansion of government spending since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. According to Tanner, this shift is not circumstantial, a result of post‐​9/​11 considerations, but rather a fundamental shift in the conservative paradigm. Articulate and incisive, Tanner’s critique provides a helpful overview of the issues facing conservatives today and an introduction to the myriad facets of contemporary conservative thinking‐​from national‐​greatness conservatives to technophiles to compassionate conservatism. Tanner’s arguments are considerate and well‐​researched, and his optimistic belief in a return to small‐​government conservatism is largely appealing.”
Publishers Weekly

“Since President Bill Clinton proclaimed the demise of big government in a State of the Union address, the federal government “spends more, regulates us more, and reaches far more into our daily lives than it did before the Republican Revolution.” This is the thesis of Tanner, who argues that the Republican Party, “supposedly the party of smaller government” and until recently in power for over a decade, in fact succumbed to the many temptations and opportunities to govern actively. Tanner is especially good on the roots of big‐​government conservatism, an analysis based upon his categorizations of neoconservatives, national‐​greatness conservatives, supply‐​siders, technophiles, and the Religious Right and his view of domestic issues like welfare, health insurance, entitlements, and education. He presents a lucid argument that deserves a place in any public or academic library collection seeking to document contemporary U.S. politics.”
Library Journal

“So the Tanner gist to Republicans is soul‐​searching: Study this book, think hard and get back to your roots and drawing board, fast. You can’t out‐​center the centrists. The future is yours to lose. Or, conceivably, win.”
—William H. Peterson, The Washington Times