Ideas have consequences. From the early 2000s Matt Continetti, the author of the fascinating new book The Right, has worked at some of the leading institutions of American conservatism. He has seen firsthand how many of them fallen or lost their way. But where conservatism's critics see a movement that has become unrecognizable and even dangerous, Continetti sees instead a rich, vibrant, and messy war of ideas, institutions, and personalities.
This week, Continetti—the co-founder of the Washington Free Beacon and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute—offered us a panoramic look at the past and future of the American right and its sometimes odd intellectual evolution. How much do ideas really matter? How might the Republican Party have been different had 9/11 not happened? And would the conservative movement have even been possible without the pervasive threat of communism?
In Part 2, available here for subscribers, the conversation zeroes in on the extent to which conservatism and the right have diverged. Conservatism is meant to conserve, where the New Right is defined by populism and radicalism. Shadi pushes Matt by asking a question that is top of mind for many on the left: To what extent is the Republican Party still democratic? What is it drawing young men to such a revolutionary view of American politics? Is there a limit to anti-American ideas in American politics?