Rule and Ruin by Geoffrey Kabaservice
The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party (Studies in Postwar American Political Development)

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Synopsis

The chaotic events leading up to Mitt Romney's defeat in the 2012 election indicated how far the Republican Party had rocketed rightward away from the center of public opinion. Republicans in Congress threatened to shut down the government and force a U.S. debt default. Tea Party activists mounted primary challenges against Republican officeholders who appeared to exhibit too much pragmatism or independence. Moderation and compromise were dirty words in the Republican presidential debates. The GOP, it seemed, had suddenly become a party of ideological purity.
Except this development is not new at all. In Rule and Ruin, Geoffrey Kabaservice reveals that the moderate Republicans' downfall began not with the rise of the Tea Party but about the time of President Dwight Eisenhower's farewell address. Even in the 1960s, when left-wing radicalism and right-wing backlash commanded headlines, Republican moderates and progressives formed a powerful movement, supporting pro-civil rights politicians like Nelson Rockefeller and William Scranton, battling big-government liberals and conservative extremists alike. But the Republican civil war ended with the overthrow of the moderate ideas, heroes, and causes that had comprised the core of the GOP since its formation. In hindsight, it is today's conservatives who are "Republicans in Name Only."
Writing with passionate sympathy for a bygone tradition of moderation, Kabaservice recaptures a time when fiscal restraint was matched with social engagement; when a cohort of leading Republicans opposed the Vietnam war; when George Romney--father of Mitt Romney--conducted a nationwide tour of American poverty, from Appalachia to Watts, calling on society to "listen to the voices from the ghetto." Rule and Ruin is an epic, deeply researched history that reorients our understanding of our political past and present.
Today, following the Republicans' loss of the popular vote in five of the last six presidential contests, moderates remain marginalized in the GOP and progressives are all but nonexistent. In this insightful and elegantly argued book, Kabaservice contends that their decline has left Republicans less capable of governing responsibly, with dire consequences for all Americans. He has added a new afterword that considers the fallout from the 2012 elections.
 

About Geoffrey Kabaservice

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Geoffrey Kabaservice is the author of the National Book Award-nominated The Guardians: Kingman Brewster, His Circle, and the Rise of the Liberal Establishment. He has written for numerous national publications and has been an assistant professor of history at Yale University. He lives outside Washington, DC.
 
Published January 4, 2012 by Oxford University Press. 499 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Rule and Ruin

Kirkus Reviews

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A myth-dissolving account of the past state of politics in the United States and what was lost when the Republican Party was destroyed.

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The New York Times

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A new book charts the decline of moderate Republicans, while another explores the Tea Party’s core beliefs about government.

Jan 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall o...

The New York Times

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A new book charts the decline of moderate Republicans, while another explores the Tea Party’s core beliefs about government.

Jan 06 2012 | Read Full Review of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall o...

Publishers Weekly

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(The decades from Ronald Reagan’s inauguration to the Tea Party jihad flit by in a 25-page montage.) Kabaservice spotlights seldom remembered Republican moderates, including the intellectuals of the Ripon Society and politicians like George Romney, John Lindsay, and Ohio congressman Charles Wha...

Oct 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall o...

The Washington Times

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In his autobiography, English man of letters G.K. Chesterton not only recounted the story of his own life, he also assessed the lives of his many friends and acquaintances in Edwardian-era London. At one point Chesterton, a champion of Christian orthodoxy, described his dear friend H.G. Wells, a ...

Feb 21 2012 | Read Full Review of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall o...

Christian Science Monitor

He provides a helpful taxonomy dividing moderate, liberal/progressive, conservative, and Taft-stalwart factions in the Republican Party, but focuses on the moderates, who gained the Republican nomination in every presidential election from 1944 to 1960.

Jan 05 2012 | Read Full Review of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall o...

Christian Science Monitor

Radio personality Rush Limbaugh would have found himself marginalized in the 1950s Republican Party.

Jan 05 2012 | Read Full Review of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall o...

National Review Online

I very much enjoyed Artur Davis’s review of Geoffrey Kabaservice’s Rule and Ruin, a history of the postwar Republican party that emphasizes the decline of liberal and moderate Republicanism and the rise of the right: [I]n the book’s last pages, after getting the dismay over the far right out o...

Mar 27 2012 | Read Full Review of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall o...

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