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George Nash

In an interview that is online, the conservative historian George H. Nash states:

Irving Kristol once said that a neoconservative is "a liberal who has been mugged by reality." In the late 1960s and 1970s many American liberals and social democrats had this experience and began an intellectual journey toward conservative positions. The stresses that produced this migration included disillusionment with the grandiose liberal social activism of the Sixties (the Great Society), alarm at the antinomian cultural upheavals of that era, and dismay at the rise of the New Left. Many neoconservatives were anticommunist liberals of the Harry Truman/Henry Jackson variety who found themselves bereft of a political home after the capture of the Democratic Party by the followers of George McGovern in 1972. Eventually, they made their way into the conservative coalition of Ronald Reagan. (http://www.isi.org/books/content/405interview.pdf)

Nash's comment on Lyndon Johnson's Great Society signals an apparent dislike for its programs: Medicare, Medicaid. The activism of the 1960s of which Nash speaks was largely the civil rights movement and opposition to the war in Vietnam. The movement to advance human and civil rights for African Americans was largely opposed by conservative politicians and other conservatives, whatever "love" they had "in their hearts for Negroes." The war in Vietnam was widely supported by conservatives who couldn't see beyond their anti-communism and other simplicities. Ronald Reagan was one of those who supported that war. The civil rights movement is now accepted as having been right and proper, and the US war in Vietnam opposed by McGovern and his supporters is largely viewed as a terrible mistake. So where is the justification for hostility toward participation in these movements?

Copyright © 2012 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.