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If an “-ism” must have influential representatives, it is time to begin referring to neoconservatism in the past tense. Neoconservatism was born when a group of influential and liberal New York intellectuals became disenchanted with the political left in the late 1960s. Since they attacked their former liberal allies, they appeared conservative, but because they retained an attachment to many of the liberal goals that had long attracted them, and because they were rarely Christian, from the South, or inclined to romanticize the past, they were not traditional conservatives. What could they be, then, but “neo-conservatives”?

The neoconservatives were inclined, for example, to praise Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but never Barry Goldwater or Russell Kirk. They agreed with the left that it was critical to end racially ...

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