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My Book: American Conservative: Reclaiming Conservatism from the Right

This is a link to my book, American Conservative: Reclaiming Conservatism from the Right, at Amazon.  You can use the “Look inside” feature of their web-site to get a feel for what’s in it and what the writing is like.

Buy it.  Read it.  Feel free to comment on it here.

What follows is the original blurb (which, for the actual book jacket, was edited and simplified, and then updated to reflect the fact that the eventual book release pretty much post-dated the Presidential primary (for the 2016 election), rather than preceding it):


We are, once again, in the midst of a Presidential primary election season in which at least half the Republican candidates are clowns and in which the rest, if they are not actually clowns, are giving every appearance of feeling they must bow to the ringmaster and pile into the clown car.  They call themselves conservative, but their understanding of what that means seems shallow and opportunistic.

It isn’t that there is nothing conservative about them.  A lot of what they say is at least traceable to some conservative idea.  Many of them certainly seem uncomfortable with the notion that anything much might change.  But a lot of what they say comes more from some parochial social or cultural agenda, or from pure political partisanship, than from any kind of conservative principle; and the subset of conservative principles from which they do draw inspiration would appear to be a particularly limited one.  Theirs is a parody of conservatism that makes a mockery of the real thing.

Yet, it seems most people, on both the right and the left, among the public and the press, within the proletariat and the intelligentsia, take them at their word and grant them the authority they assert for themselves: not merely that they are “conservative” but that their brand of conservatism is the entirety of conservatism; not merely that they are “conservative” but that they speak for all conservatives.  It is infuriating.  Carson?  Rubio?  Cruz?  Trump?  This is the best we can do?  This is what passes for conservatism these days?  When did that once-honorable political tradition become so narrow and so stupid?

I don’t believe it did.  Conservatism is what it always was.  It is not conservatism that became narrow and stupid; it is the current crop of self-proclaimed conservatives.  The pity is, we are letting them get away with it.

I want to take the conversation back from them.  I want to remind people that conservatism can be intelligent and thoughtful.  I want to remind people that there is an alternative to the excesses of liberalism that doesn’t require us to turn the clock back a century, that isn’t tied to religion, that embraces a responsibility for society and culture, that isn’t terrified of change, that speaks to the commonalities we share instead of dividing us into tribes.

And I want to remind people that conservatism and liberalism in America actually overlap in many important ways.  I want to remind people that conservatives and liberals could work together if they would take an honest look both at others’ beliefs and at their own.


There are a great many books out there about politics.  Most of them, however, contain either dryly academic pedantry or overtly partisan persuasion.

I’ve tried to make this neither of those.  It is a polemic, of a sort, but my intent is not specifically to persuade people that conservatism is right.  Rather, it is to persuade them that conservatism has something worthwhile to say.  It is to make them think about what they believe and why, to get them to ask questions about the beliefs of those they might vote for.  My intent is not to change the outcome.  My intent is to change the conversation.

There are things in this book that may stir people up, because both my abstract way of thinking and my creative bent lead me often to unusual perspectives on issues: despite my conservatism, I don’t deny that government can and does produce things; I say business subsidies are anti-Capitalistic; I describe the religious right as “Theocratic Socialists”; I assert that Neo-Conservatives are especially scary precisely because of their liberalism; I assert that there is a way in which conservatives have a better claim on social conscience than liberals do;  I present a conservative argument for establishing an economic safety net for the poor; I challenge the NRA to take responsibility for solving the problem of gun violence by establishing and operating a gun registry; I claim gun rights advocates and abortion advocates should be natural allies because they are both championing a right to individual autonomy; I claim that libertarians and communists share an impractical idealism; I assert that, contrary to the popular perception, liberalism is fundamentally an emotional ideology and conservatism is fundamentally an intellectual one.  I claim all of those positions are entirely consistent with conservative principle.

© Copyright 2016, Augustus P. Lowell

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