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Blinded by the Right by David Brock

By Josie Brown | Books | June 16, 2009 |

By Josie Brown | Books | June 16, 2009 |

A while back, I posted a fairly broad post on some recent comments from Michael Steele, and amongst my other gripes with Steele’s specific topic, I also mentioned that the GOP has deviated from its early-90s era strategy. Regardless of your political affiliation, it’s easy to see the power of The Gingrich led strategy, which demanded that members of the party adhere to certain key principles in public discourse, leaving more individual initiatives for behind-the-scenes development. This presented a clear image of the party to the public and allowed the GOP to define their political agenda in a more coherent way than really had been done before in any party.

David Brock came to conservatism as this GOP revolution picked up speed. Having spent much of his formative political life either somewhat disconnected from the prevailing drift of his environment or immersed in the drippy hyperliberalism of certain sections of academia, conservatism seemed to be the answer to many political questions Brock wanted to answer. His fearless approach to political discourse and willingness to push the boundaries served him well, and he became a key party player. However, he eventually became uncomfortable with the GOP’s direction through a series of events and a shift in tone, and fell away from the party somewhat dramatically.

This is an interesting look into modern party politics, consulting, lobbying and … politicking, really. You should check it out, because from the outside, it’s very hard to understand how politics happens in this country. There are just so many moving parts; this allows people to see a little bit of how it all comes together. I think it’s particularly helpful to see one individual’s path from burgeoning political awareness to active participation in the system to the need for change once involved. It’s very easy to discount political actors as being hopeless ideologues, but Brock’s account of his political life shows that there is consideration and evolution in thought for many people in politics, particularly when a party undergoes a seismic shift. It will be interesting to see how the Republican party — and the Democrat party — changes in this new political landscape. I expect the combination of Michael Steele’s leadership at the GOP and Obama’s new vision of the Democrat party to be extremely interesting in the years to come.

I think Brock’s story speaks to a very common modern dilemma — the tendency to inaccurately explain and understand conservatism and liberalism. I don’t know that Brock is truly an ex-conservative. I think he’s probably an ex-NeoCon or an ex-GOP-Member, but his values as he explains them still trend towards the conservative. The problem with aligning our political parties with longstanding political ideologies is that it eventually becomes impossible to separate the two. Many of my friends would rather wind up naked at a public, televised speaking event than call themselves liberals, but they cling tightly to a fairly large selection of classical liberal ideals. Same thing with liberal friends and conservatism. We’re really at a strange point in political discourse and to a certain extent it does worry me - if we can’t separate pop liberalism from classical liberalism, how can we hope to discuss either, much less contrast them?

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. You can read more of Josie Brown’s reviews at her blog, The Outlaw Josie Brown

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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