Triumph of the Right: The Rise of the California Conservative Movement, 1945-1966

Triumph of the Right: The Rise of the California Conservative Movement, 1945-1966

Triumph of the Right: The Rise of the California Conservative Movement, 1945-1966

Triumph of the Right: The Rise of the California Conservative Movement, 1945-1966


The only available history of conservative politics in California, this book deals with the myriad factors that led to the formation and rise of the conservative movement in California after World War II, culminating in the election of Reagan as governor in 1966. Schuparra brings the unusual perspective of gender, race, and rhetoric into the story and is especially interested in the movement's role in pivotal electoral contests. This study also assesses how the struggle between California liberals and conservatives -- and those caught in the middle -- both reflected and influenced the national debate over major government policies and social issues, particularly on racial matters.


The Right has appalled and consumed historians, who have barely begun to describe and analyze it. Some of them have argued that the Right has no tradition in the United States, or that it is fueled by paranoia or a religious fervor inappropriate to politics. Others have seen it as linked closely to corporate capitalism, to a wealthy elite, to Western romantics longing for nineteenth-century rugged individualism. But the Right has always been a part of American society, whether in the mainstream, on the margins, or misunderstood. For good or ill, it has affected the course of history and warrants a rich historiography (although works on the Right sometimes are confined to obscure comers of academic bookshelves).

The M.E. Sharpe series the Right Wing in America is an attempt to resurrect the Right from the substratum of serious scholarship. By publishing biographies, studies of movements, institutions, and political, cultural, and religious developments from colonial times to the present, the series will present the Right in its variety and complexity and reveal its deep roots. Books in the series are reasonably succinct, thoroughly documented, analytical, and meant to appeal to a general audience as well as scholars and students.

Kurt Schuparra's Triumph of the Right is a major reevaluation of the conservative movement that arose in California in the 1950s and rolled East. This study of California has national implications because it shows the dynamic interaction of political leaders and grassroots activists. Fair and evenhanded, Schuparra considers the right-wing Republicans neither paranoid nor unflawed. Rather, he evaluates them realistically as major players in the era's political contests.

Schuparra examines four key elections from the Republican perspective: William Knowland versus Pat Brown for governor in 1958, Richard Nixon versus Brown for governor in 1962, Ronald Reagan versus Brown for governor in 1966, and Barry Goldwater versus Nelson Rockefeller in the 1964 presidential primary. the ineffectual Knowland and the red-baiting Nixon suffered defeats. Goldwater's campaign was the first to excite conservative Californians. a macho figure, his "rugged Americanism" was symbolic of the Western frontier of legend. Eastern politicians, he implied, were cowardly and incapable of defending America against communism. Liberals . . .

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