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Right MovesThe Conservative Think Tank in American Political Culture since 1945$
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Jason Stahl

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469627861

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627861.001.0001

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Think Tanks, New Democrats, and Committed Conservatives

Think Tanks, New Democrats, and Committed Conservatives

(p.134) 4 Think Tanks, New Democrats, and Committed Conservatives
Right Moves

Jason Stahl

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter details two think tank institutional developments of the late 1980s and 1990s which furthered conservatism during this time. First, the chapter details the emergence of the Democratic Leadership Council to show the multiple ways in which this group – and its more formal think tank arm the Progressive Policy Institute – furthered conservatism. Far from a halt to the conservative trend of the Reagan years, the group's development of the political identity “New Democrat” helped create a space for conservatism within the Democratic Party. This chapter details the development of this new identity and its power under the presidency of Bill Clinton – namely how it was wielded to pass a host of long-term conservative public policy goals including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and welfare reform. Secondly, this chapter details how Republican-aligned conservative think tanks—rather than compromising with a Democratic president—continued to advance their agenda within the state (through Congress) and through “civil society,” with the emergence of new conservative media outlets to disseminate their messages.

Keywords:   1980s, 1990s, Democratic Leadership Council, Progressive Policy Institute, Conservatism, New Democrat, Democratic Party, Bill Clinton, NAFTA, Welfare Reform

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