The Republican Party in the Age of Roosevelt: Sources of Anti-Government Conservatism in the United States

By Hershey, Marjorie Randon | The Historian, Summer 2016 | Go to article overview

The Republican Party in the Age of Roosevelt: Sources of Anti-Government Conservatism in the United States


Hershey, Marjorie Randon, The Historian


The Republican Party in the Age of Roosevelt: Sources of Anti-Government Conservatism in the United States. By Elliot A. Rosen. (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2014. Pp. xiv, 229. $39.50.)

This concise volume tells the fascinating story of internal conflict in the Republican Party: How best could the formerly dominant Republicans respond to the electoral success of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal? The author of this work delineates the struggles of economic conservatives within the party to halt new federal government social services programs, or at least to prevent their expansion. He also tells the intriguing story of the continuing battle between Republican isolationists and Republican internationalists as German aggression increasingly threatened world politics.

The great strength of this book is in its detailed discussion of the interrelationships among the various rivals for domination of Republican Party policy and its presidential tickets. Elliot Rosen offers a richness of detail in analyzing these interrelationships. Other researchers take somewhat different approaches to explaining changes in a party's ideological stance. Hans Noel's Political Ideologies and Political Parties in America examines the influence of intellectuals and advocacy groups outside of the party structure. Others posit that the Republican Party's positions over time have reflected changes in the needs of American business. In these analyses and in the early years of the party, businesses looked to a strong national government and a system of taxes to build the roads and other infrastructure required for the expansion of commerce, and the Republicans spoke for business needs. But once the infrastructure existed, the New Deal proved that a strong national government could turn on business, hobbling it with regulations and increased taxes--for programs intended to protect workers and public health-rather than supporting it. …

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