The Other Side of the Sixties: Young Americans for Freedom and the Rise of Conservative Politics

The Other Side of the Sixties: Young Americans for Freedom and the Rise of Conservative Politics

The Other Side of the Sixties: Young Americans for Freedom and the Rise of Conservative Politics

The Other Side of the Sixties: Young Americans for Freedom and the Rise of Conservative Politics

Excerpt

The 1960s have become an almost mythic decade, attracting the attention of historians, politicians, and sociologists. Some have come to document, some to celebrate, and others to condemn. But most chroniclers of the sixties, regardless of their politics, share two characteristics: they focus on the latter years of the decade and they emphasize the importance of movements and causes on the Left to the exclusion of almost everything else. This study is an effort to shift that focus, to examine the first half of the sixties and to emphasize developments on the Right, developments that outlasted the decade.

Although the sixties ended almost three decades ago, they remain an integral part of American politics and culture. The struggle to define the sixties has become a contest not only to write the "proper" history of that decade, but to control the public's memory of it. Publication of memoirs by various sixties activists have helped a Left perspective endure, but the most active propagators of sixties "leftism" have been conservatives, from Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich. They have repeatedly used the decade as a whipping post for liberals and liberal programs, blaming everything they do not like about contemporary American society and culture on what they charge were radical changes promulgated in the sixties. Teenage pregnancies, welfare costs, government social programs, urban disorder, educational problems, declining high school test scores--the list is virtually endless. They attempt to trace the roots of almost all current problems to the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson or to the social movements of the sixties. The opening lecture of Republican Speaker of the House . . .

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