It was 1976, and something was changing in American politics.
Ronald Reagan had lost the Republican presidential primary to Gerald Ford. Four years later, Reagan defeated incumbent President Jimmy Carter and helped usher in a new conservatism in American politics that reverberated throughout his eight-year presidency and beyond.
Author Rick Perlstein’s new book analyzes the triggers that molded this conservative wave and its political pawns. “Reaganland: American’s Right Turn 1976-1980” bookends a series that relives the rise of conservatism in an America that had been moving left of center.
Perlstein writes that conservatism in the 1950s was dying. It wasn’t relevant anymore, something that Barry Goldwater served as a prime example of.
In Perlstein’s first book in the series, “Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus,” Perlstein writes that Goldwater was a figure who campaigned on ending agricultural subsidies, ending the progressive…