Conservatism in Mainstream America

Conservative ideas moved into main stream America by the end of the century through religious organizations, corporate indoctrination, public education, and the grass roots white collar middle class workers.  Using these avenues to proclaim the ideas of free market versus social welfare programs, main stream America became the center of the political agenda of Conservatism.

One of the main ways the conservative ideas moved into the center of American politics was through the mobilization of religious groups.  The Reverend Jerry Falwell of Liberty University, and founder of the Moral Majority in Lynchburg, Virginia was one of the leaders who helped to launch this initiative.  His goal was to reach down to the local population of people and motivate the conservatives to vote on moral issues as well as inspiring them to “lobby intensively in Congress to defeat left-wing social-welfare bills that will further erode our precious freedom.” This idea under his leadership spread out among the grass roots churches of mainstream America where the congregations became enlightened by local pastors and business owners to help keep the “intrusive government” from making new laws that would endanger their tax exempt status. (231)  When a fundamental group of people get the word out, it has a far reaching impact as all ages, economic and social statuses, as well as races would become informed.

While churches became one place to inform the people, corporations also became public figures in proclaiming the conservative policies.  General Motors, CEO, Thomas Murphy, proclaimed to the business community “through us, the public must see corporations in the same human terms that they see the president.”(197)  They had to become visible to the public so the people would understand it was personal for the corporations too, not just big money demanding their own way.  This idea worked as CEO’s began to send out letters to their manufacturers and suppliers, such as Roebuck the President of Sears, who sent personal letters to each of them in order to inform them of the various laws that were proposed and asked them to get involved in the fight by contacting their congressmen.(199)  The smaller businessmen did just that and they in turn passed the information on to their employees to further the support of the people which allowed the conservative movement to dig deeper into the heart of America.

Education needed to be given to the young people of America as so many people were entering the work force and did not have any idea was free enterprise meant.  It became the mission and vision of the Roundtable’s Public Information Committee that the only way to stop the idea that free enterprise had a negative impact on society was to “educate the public about economics through classes at the high school level.” (193)  When the business community began instructing the young people about free enterprise the ways of thinking began to change and a new generation of thought developed that allowed people to understand what free enterprise was and why it must be protected, thus propelling the conservative movement deeper.

One final avenue that proves the drastic shift to mainstream America comes from the drive of Richard Viguerie who started the Conservative Digest magazine.  Viguerie advocated “the Real base for the conservative movement needed to be the blue-collar white people, the descendants of Irish or Italian or Eastern European immigrants, with ‘traditional’ social values.” (215)  It was his hope that this group of people would turn toward taking care of their own families and be less reliant on the government for aid or of the unions.  By going after the middle class worker, the conservative movement was striking at the heart of the nation.

Mainstream America became the thrust of the conservative movement as the religious leaders, CEO’s, teachers, and bosses began to instruct their people on what free enterprise meant and why it was important.

One Response to “Conservatism in Mainstream America”
  1. marcush1 says:

    As I argued in my conservatism paper, I believe that the political reeducation of workers also played a major role in helping conservatism spread. Businesses knew that in order to preserve the free market economy they would have to gain the support of many working class Americans, so they began the process of politically reeducating them. By telling their employees that labor unions and governmental regulations were threats to the free market system, and in turn democracy itself, they convinced many working class Americans to support the conservative movement, which resulted in the spread of conservatism in America.

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