After winning control of Congress in November 1994, the Republican leadership, working closely with business lobbyists and policy groups, launched an ambitious effort to roll back a century of reform legislationfrom the food and drug laws of the Progressive Era to the New Deal's Social Security Act to the workplace and environmental regulation of the first Nixon administration. Congressional Democrats blocked most of these efforts in the House and Senate, and the Clinton administration vetoed others, but conservatives have continued to press their agendain committee hearings, in mysterious riders attached to appropriations bills, and in the courts, some of which are still dominated by Reagan and Bush administration appointees.
George W. Bush is getting lots of credit for giving the National Institutes of Health (NIH) their biggest boost ever, but his increases in spending on research in health care and defense are obscuring drastic cuts in all other kinds of scientific research. When you look closely at Bush's science budget, what you discover is wildly skewed priorities. You also discover what is becoming increasingly obvious--that Bush is not a new type of Republican but a typical country club conservative who is determined to eliminate government regulation of business and to cut spending except on programs that favor his large campaign contributors.
In the 1950s, in the midst of what C. Wright Mills called the "great American celebration," mainstream political scientists conceived of modern American democracy as a more or less equal contest among large-scale groups -- the most important being farmers, workers, and business. (Chapters Two through Five of V.O. Key's classic Politics, Parties and Pressure Groups were aptly entitled "Agrarianism," "Workers," "Business," and "Other Interest Groups.") Each social group had its own organizations -- from the American Farm Bureau to AFL-CIO to the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) -- and each enjoyed special power within one of the major political parties.
As Japanese conglomerates swallow up Manhattan skyscrapers and Hollywood film studios, and as Japanese factories spread across the industrial landscape, from Peterborough, New Hampshire to San Diego, California, many Americans have become fearful that their economic sovereignty is at stake. Will the basic decisions about whether a midwestern town thrives or withers now be made in Osaka and Tokyo? Will decades-old patterns of work and life be disrupted to fit the needs of foreign owners?
As late as 1950, investigators who set out to discover an American conservative movement would have failed abysmally. They would have found a large and fractious right wing ranging from isolationist followers of Senator Robert Taft (who insisted on calling himself a "liberal") to the anti-Semites and racists who joined Gerald L.K. Smith's Christian Nationalist Party. They might also have come across a group of Ivy League intellectuals such as McGeorge Bundy and August Heckscher who called themselves the "new conservatives" but would later be described as establishment liberals.