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The Vanishing TraditionPerspectives on American Conservatism$
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Paul Gottfried

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501749858

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501749858.001.0001

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Big Conservatism and American Exceptionalism

Big Conservatism and American Exceptionalism

Chapter:
(p.9) 1 Big Conservatism and American Exceptionalism
Source:
(p.iii) The Vanishing Tradition
Author(s):

Jack Kerwick

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501749858.003.0002

This chapter discusses “Big Conservatism,” or “the Big Con,” and the doctrine of American exceptionalism (AE). What is known as the conservative movement in America is not conservative in any traditional or historical sense. The present conservative movement is largely a creation of neoconservatism, which gained effective control of establishment conservative media in the 1980s. The Big Conservatism that emerged from this takeover is a recognizable form of the Rationalist, progressivist, imperialist Left, against which classical conservatives and later the interwar American Right were once furiously opposed. The movers and shakers of Big Conservatism, true to their ideological pedigree, anchor their political vision in a metaphysical abstraction, American exceptionalism. From the perspective of American exceptionalism, America is an Idea and perhaps the only nation in all of human history that is imagined to transcend history. It is on the basis of this equation of America with a concept—a borderless, immaterial, universal concept—that those in the Big Con seek to justify their policy prescriptions, particularly their linkage of idealistic military intervention abroaexceptionalism with unrelenting immigration at home.

Keywords:   Big Conservatism, American exceptionalism, American conservative movement, neoconservatism, conservative media, American Right, military intervention, immigration

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