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The Conservatives Have No Clothes: Why Right-Wing Ideas Keep Failing Hardcover – September 1, 2007
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"Ending the conservative era requires organizing, yes, but also hard thinking and shrewd analysis. When progressives of the future look back at how they triumphed, one of the people they’ll thank is Greg Anrig. Drawing inspiration from the work of the early neo-conservatives who demolished public support for liberal programs, Anrig casts a sharp eye on conservative ideas and nostrums and shows that many of them simply don’t work because they are rooted more in ideological dreams than in reality. Facts are stubborn things, Ronald Reagan once said, and Anrig makes good use of them in this important and engaging book." --E. J. Dionne, syndicated columnist and author of Why Americans Hate Politics
From the Inside Flap
Tax cuts that produce gargantuan budget deficits, an ill-conceived war that has diminished America's ability to defend itself, the quiet evisceration of laws that protect public health, safety, and the environmentafter six years of virtually absolute conservative rule, the results of nearly every right-wing policy, program, and initiative can be summed up in a single word: failure. How could a vast, carefully constructed political movement, which so recently patted itself on the back for winning "the war of ideas," be so utterly feckless when it comes to governing the nation?
In The Conservatives Have No Clothes, the respected policy expert and journalist Greg Anrig offers a scathing indictment of right-wing ideology and reveals point by point how and why the conservative agenda produces terrible government. In a series of devastating critiques, he examines ideas and policies espoused by the right and assesses the degree to which they have delivered (or not) on promises to make America stronger and safer, and our government smaller and more efficient.
According to Anrig, conservatives have developed an unusualand unusually disastrousmethod of governing. The first step is to drown out attention paid to a genuine policy problem, like abysmal inner-city schools or Osama bin Laden, with alarms over an imaginary crisis like the failure of all of America's public schools or weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The second step is to trump up reasons why the imaginary problem requires weakening the government's domestic capabilities, as with private school vouchers, or exerting unilateral force abroad, as with the Iraq invasion. The third step is to make up stories explaining why the failure isn't really a failure. The fourth and final step is to leave it to the Democrats to solve both the original problem and the new one created by the conservative policy.
Anrig documents the impact of this sophisticated sabotage on the performance of numerous government agencies, including FEMA, which reverted from a model praised by both parties in the 1990s back into a "turkey farm" for political loyalists under the managerial practices promoted by conservative think tanks. The disastrously inept response to Hurricane Katrina was the result not just of incompetence, but of the right's ideology. Anrig also shows how movement conserva-tism's ideas have inflicted damage on state and local government, causing Colorado's national rankings in education and health care to plummet to the bottom under the constraints of Grover Norquist's holy grail, the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights.
Despite their decisive defeat in the 2006 elections, right-wing ideologues show no sign of calling off their war on American government. The Conservatives Have No Clothes offers more than a powerful condemnation of their past offenses; it is a field guide for assessing and responding to whatever they come up with next.
Top Customer Reviews
Anrig describes for us the ideas of American Twentieth Century conservatism and the failure of the movement to move beyond the most facile and superficial arguments to provide an intellectual and honest base for their philosophy. While conservatives are experts at setting up progressive strawmen and batting them around (and have in fact a cottage industry which endlessly churns them out) they've failed to offer any substantial arguments to support their ideas - because, as Anrig so clearly points out, there are none.
Greg Anrig, in his exceptionally well written book, has given the progressive movement and all Americans the answer to the question, "how did we lose our way?" and more importantly, tells us how to find a way forward.
A word about the reviewer who gave this book one star. It is most helpful to have people reviewing books who do not agree with their conclusions. That said, the claim made by this reviewer that Anrig fails to offer positive ideas as to what should be done in these various policy areas to get better results is simply false. It leaves me wondering if the reviewer read the book, or is simply being intellectually dishonest. Clearly implied or stated explicitly in every chapter are Anrig's conclusions as to what better policy would look like. Disagree with those views if you wish. But don't give the book a trash rating on the basis of a demonstrably false view about its supposed shortcomings.
This is no cheap, drive-by hit job. Anrig is fair and civil to those with whom he disagrees, qualities which seem too rare in our current season of discontent. Polls show roughly 7 in 10 Americans believe our country is on the wrong track. I recommend this book to readers who want to get a better sense of how that has happened. Bad ideas put into policy do have consequences.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You may have wondered as to why at the 2012 Republican Convention, not only was George W.Bush not invited, his name wasn't mentioned. Read morePublished 4 months ago by T. Washington
This is a must-read exploration in the paradox that is right-wing governmental rule, a conundrum that thrives on failure. Read morePublished on February 8, 2009 by T Z Me
If you need to convince someone that the conservative ideal don't work, read this book and take notes. Read morePublished on April 7, 2008 by Irene Smith