James P. Pinkerton is a columnist for Newsday and a fellow at the New America Foundation. He worked in the White House domestic-policy offices of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush Senior and in the 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992 presidential campaigns.
The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America
By John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge • Penguin • 464 pages • $25.95
The recent history of American politics can be told as the story of two alliances -- one made and unmade by the Democrats, one made and kept by the Republicans. The Democrats' alliance was with socialism, or at least social democracy. The Republicans' alliance was with conservative religion. In the last decade, the Democrats, out of necessity, broke their left-economic alliance and benefited at the ballot box; at the same time, the Republicans seem to have cemented their right-religion alliance, even as the cost-benefit ratio from that alliance sinks into the negative zone.