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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Despite a Republican president and Republican control of Congress, the federal government has grown far bigger and more intrusive. It spends more, regulates more, and reaches more deeply into everyday lives than it did before the Republican Revolution. As a result, the 2006 midterm elections became a debacle for the Republican Party, and the Republican Revolution was shattered.
Mike Tanner provides a vivid analysis of how this occurred in his new book, Leviathan on the Right: How Big Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution. It is a scathing look at how the rise of a new brand of “big government” conservatives used their power to further their own agendas and undermined the policies and legacies of such traditional conservatives as Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.
While the recent Republican election defeats are often placed at the Iraq war’s doorstep, Tanner demonstrates how much more contributed to the Republican collapse. The book focuses on the domestic policies of big government conservatives, powerfully illustrating the battle that was waged for control of the Republican Party. Furthermore, Tanner demonstrates that unless conservatives return to their small-government roots, this battle and the electoral defeat of 2006 are only the beginnings of dire consequences for the Republican Party and the nation.
Tanner begins with an incisive analysis of the roots and core beliefs of big government conservatism and the major currents that fueled its growth — neo-conservatism, the Religious Right, supply-side economics, national greatness conservatism, and Newt Gingrich-style technophiles. He then demonstrates how severely its adherents drifted away from the traditional conservative belief in limited government. As a result, recent policies not only failed on a practical level and led to diminished public opinion and confidence, but have left America less free and even less secure.
Tanner’s provocative analysis concludes with a discussion of how to return to small government conservatism — outlining a compact, effective government based on individual liberty. He illustrates how the gulf between small and large government conservatism will be at the epicenter of Republican Party politics as momentum builds for the 2008 presidential election.