Read Conservatives Without Conscience by John W. Dean Online


Dean's last NY Times bestseller, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush, offered the former White House insider's telling perspective on George W. Bush's presidency. Once again, he employs his knowledge & understanding of Washington politics & process to examine the conservative movement's current inner circle of radical Republican leaders--fDean's last NY Times bestseller, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush, offered the former White House insider's telling perspective on George W. Bush's presidency. Once again, he employs his knowledge & understanding of Washington politics & process to examine the conservative movement's current inner circle of radical Republican leaders--from Capitol Hill to Pennsylvania Ave to K Street & beyond. In Conservatives without Conscience, he not only highlights specific right-wing-driven GOP policies but also probes the conservative mindset, identifying recurring qualities such as the unbridled viciousness toward those daring to disagree with them, as well as the big business favoritism that costs taxpayers billions. He identifies specific examples of how court-packing seeks to form a judiciary that is biased by its very nature, how religious piety is producing politics run amok & how concealed indifference to the founding principles of liberty & equality is pushing America further & further from its constitutional foundations. By the end, he paints a vivid picture of what's happening at the top levels of the Republican Party, a party corrupted by leaders who cloak their actions in moral superiority while packaging their programs in blatant propaganda. He finds disturbing signs that current right-wing authoritarian thinking, when conflated with the domineering personalities of the conservative leadership, could take the USA toward its own version of fascism....

Title : Conservatives Without Conscience
Author :
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ISBN : 9780670037742
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Conservatives Without Conscience Reviews

  • Will Byrnes
    2019-04-19 05:11

    This is a must read for those with an interest in contemporary political affairs. Dean, an erstwhile Goldwater Republican, is interested in authoritarianism within the conservative movement. He begins by looking for a definition of conservatism. This is no mean feat, as the definition is as variable as the people who supposedly ascribe to this ideology. In the preface, for example, (p xxxvii) he quotes Robert Vaughn, a professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, who defines democracy and authoritarianism in terms of information policy. “Authoritarian governments are identified by ready government access to information about the activities of its citizens and by extensive limitations on the ability of citizens to obtain information about the government. In contrast, democratic governments are marked by significant restrictions on the ability of government to acquire information about its citizens and by ready access by citizens to information about the activities of government. Dean looks at the research of several folks in the field and brings their work to this wider forum. What makes an authoritarian person. He looks at leaders and followers, their characteristics, their beliefs. He looks at the history of authoritarian conservatism in the USA, beginning with Alexander Hamilton. He looks at some examples in detail, J. Edgar Hoover, Spiro Agnew, Phyllis Schlafley, Paul Weyrich, Pat Robertson. Update 2016 - the review may be a thin, early, 2008 effort, but the quotes from this book are all important.P 12[Conservatives looking to American history for a historical tradition to their beliefs faced a considerable challenge:] given the liberal tradition of this country, and in fact, nothing in America’s founding, or the creation of the United States, was of a conservative nature.P 13One [conservative:] scholar suggested conservatives should claim that, in fact, the Declaration’s egalitarian ethos had not been carried over to the Constitution; rather that the Declaration was just that, a declaration and not a governing document…it was ultimately decided to “stress the compatibility” of both the Declaration and the Constitution with conservative views, although that compatibility was created by brazenly reinterpreting the founding events and documents. Accordingly, for conservatives the clause “all men are created equal” would be construed to apply merely to equality under the law and not to “some misty ‘pursuit of happiness’ [as:] the true foundation of our polity” and certainly not to the brand of egalitarianism favored by liberals. Most conservatives, in fact, oppose equality, and there is ultimately no clearer underlying distinction between conservatives and liberals that their views on this issue….in a variety of ways, conservatives sought to drain the Declaration of its explosive [liberal:] rhetorical potential.P 49[quoting researcher Bob Altemeyer, re authoritarianism. He developed a scale called the RWA or right-wing authoritarian scale to measure the tendency:]When I started out, and ever since, I was not looking for political conservatives. I was looking for people who overtly submit to the established authorities in their lives, who could be of nay political/economic./religious stripe. So in the Soviet union, whose Communist government we would call extremely “left-wing,” I expected right-wing authoritarians to support Communism because that was what the established authorities demanded, and they did. So when I use “right-wing” in right-wing authoritarianism, I do not mean the submission necessarily goes to a politically “right-wing” leader or government, but that it goes to established authorities in one’s life. I am proposing a psychological (not political) meaning of right-wing, in the sense that the submission goes to the psychologically accepted “proper,” “legitimate” authority.Now it turns out that in North America persons who score highly on my measure of authoritarianism test tend to favor right-wing political parties and have a “conservative” economic policies and religious sentiments…Authoritarianism was conceptualized to involve submission to established authorities, who could be anyone. But it turns out that people who have “conservative” leanings tend to be more authoritarian than anyone else.”Altemeyer learned that there are two kinds of authoritarian personalities, followers and leaders. He found identifying qualities for each:P 53 [followers:]Submissive to Authority – By “submissive,” Altemeyer means these people accept almost without question the statements and actions of established authorities, and they comply with such instructions without further ado. “authorities” include parents (throughout childhood), religious officials, government officials (police, judges, legislators, heads of government) military superiors and, depending on the situation, other people like bus drivers, lifeguards, employers, psychology experimenters and countless others. High-scoring right-wing authoritarians are intolerant of criticism of their authorities because they believe the authority is unassailably correct. Rather than feeling vulnerable in the presence of powerful authorities, they feel safer…but their submission is shaped by whether a particular authority is compatible with their views.Aggressive Support of Authority is a “predisposition to cause harm to” others when such behavior is believed to be sanctioned by authority. Authoritarians are inclined to control the behavior of others, particularly children and criminals, through punishment. They have little tolerance for leniency by courts in “coddling” criminals. Targets of right-wing authoritarian aggression are typically people perceived as being unconventional, like homosexuals. Research finds that authoritarian aggression is fueled by fear and encouraged by remarkable self-righteousness, which frees aggressive impulses. Conventionality – they tend to be fundamentalist…religion influences their attitudes – believe themselves the country’s true patriots – travel in tight circle of like-minded people – thinking is based on what authorities have told them rather than on their own judgments – harbor numerous double-standards and hypocrisies – hostile toward minorities, while unaware of their prejudices – see the world as a dangerous place – appoint themselves guardians of public morality – think of themselves as more upstanding and moral than others. P 56Social Dominance Orientation and “Double Highs”: the LeadersThese are people who seize every opportunity to lead, and who enjoy having power over others. Felicia Prato and Jim Sidanius developed social dominance theory and a social dominance orientation scale. Double-Highs are people who scores high on lLtemeyer’s test and on the SDO.P 68 – characteristics of social dominatorsOppose equality – desire personal power – amoral – intimidating or bullying – faintly hedonistic – vengelful – pitiless – exploitive – manipulative – dishonest – cheats to win – highly prejudiced – mean-spirited – militant – nationalistic – tells others what they want to hear – takes advantage of “suckers” - specializes in creating false images to sell self – may or may not be religious – usually politically and economically conservative/RepublicanP 110 – A partisan judiciary does not deliver justice, and conservative Republicans are again acting as authoritarians in packing the federal courts.P 180Are we on the road to fascism? Clearly we are not on that road yet. But it would not take much more misguided authoritarian leadership, or thoughtless following of such leaders, to find ourselves there. [Are we there yet?]P 183What has driven this book is the realization that our government has become largely authoritarian. It is run by an array or authoritarian personalities, leaders who display all those traits I have listed—dominating, opposed to equality, desirous of personal power, amoral, intimidating, and bullying; some are hedonistic, most are vengeful, pitiless, exploitive, manipulative, dishonest, cheaters, prejudiced, mean-spirited, militant, nationalistic, and two-faced. Because of our system of government, these dominators are still confronted with any number of obstacles, fortunately. Yet authoritarians seek to remove those complications wherever they can. They are able to do so because the growth of contemporary conservatism has generated countless millions of authoritarian followers, people who will not question such actions.All right how many of you feel a strong sense of dread, reading Dean's decade-old work in 2016 or later? Raise your hands. Ok, boys, collect all those with hands up. They are obviously Islamic terrorists, or Mexican immigrant criminals. The transport wagons are waiting.

  • Mike Jensen
    2019-04-23 06:14

    I spent two years researching the answer to the question, “Why has political discussion become so contentious, rude, and non-consensus making over the past three decades?” I came a long way towards answering that question, but not all the way. John Dean is a traditional conservative, a Goldwater conservative, and indeed he and Barry Goldwater would have written this book together if Goldwater had not died. Dean takes everything I figured out and takes it further, placing what I knew in a larger context. He gets to the heart of the matter by combining historical facts with psychological/statistical insights. The logic of the conclusions can not be denied. The right has condemned the book, of course, because that is what they do rather than engage with the facts and ideas presented here. When you wash away the B. S. of the invested right, this is an insightful look at the way the left and the right speak (OK, SHOUT) to each other, why it has become so, and why it is so difficult to correct. I do not recommend any book more highly.

  • Joyce
    2019-04-03 00:56

    John Dean was at a loss to understand what had happened to the Republican party since the Nixon days. Today's Republican party is not like the Republican party he first joined. He wanted to understand.This book is the result of his research. He found the answer in new research into the Conservative authoritarian personality. 25% of the the US population is made up of Conservative Authoritarian Followers. They are 1)submissive, 2)agressive 3)believe in inequality and 4)are self-righteous. They are led by Conservative Authoritarian leaders who are: 1)dominant, 2)agressive, 3)believe in inequality, and 4) are amoral. He applies this knowledge to current political leaders and issues. This is a very good book. The first chapter is a bit tough to get through, but perservere. The rest of the book is worth it.

  • Brian Ayres
    2019-03-31 05:16

    Psychological research is typically dismissed for its lack of causal relationships between two variables. Unlike hard sciences, psychologists cannot put a cause and effect label on an individual's behavior like Newton did with the apple. However, make no mistake, there is an importance to psychological research, and that importance is underscored in this book by John Dean. Dean uses the work of political/social psychologist Bob Altemeyer and others in the field to outline the four tenets of behavioral study: 1) describe; 2) explain; 3) predict; and 4) influence. Dean believes the Bush administration has run the United States with an autocratic hand. Conservatism has become a dangerous movement led by what Altemeyer describes as authoritarian leaders and authoritarian followers. Modern conservatism is a movement that has morphed into a black-and-white world of beliefs about human nature. Dean uses the objective data of Altemeyer to stress that the personalities, which unlike moods do not change very easily, have led to this administration's indifference to principles of liberty and eqaulity set forth in the Constitution. This description of authoritarianism explains why individuals like Bush, Cheney, Abramoff, Pat Robertson and Tom DeLay push their moral and intellecutal superiority onto the world and expect everyone to step in line. They rarely admit mistakes because that would show supposed weakness in their minds. And since they are conservatives, the answers to any problem have already been established. Many buy into this thinking, according to Dean, because the tendency of most in society is to follow someone lock step who gives the impression of having all the answers. This is why the Republican Congress and 25 percent of the electorate would follow George Bush no matter what, according to Dean. They are simply weak-minded and fearful of losing their position in society. Fear-mongering is how authoritarians govern. Finally, Dean's purpose is to influence those moderates and conservatives with a conscience to rise up against the Bush regime and take back our government. Whether he was successful may depend on the 2006 midterm elections. Of course, this is a political work and its very thesis carries with it an outright dismissal from those who reject the author based on his history in the public eye. Ironically, Dean understands this because he knows the tendencies of those in power and those who blindly follow those in the executive branch. But Dean's work should not be dimissed. It is an accessible and very readable account of how personality influences politics. This book is partisan, sure, but it is intellectual and rational, unlike recent book's like FUBAR from Sam Sedar or Godless by Ann Coulter. The bottom line is that personalities create political power. Dean's point is that democracies lose when the autocrats run the show.

  • Richard
    2019-04-08 03:57

    This book was so enlightening and frightening. If you care about America, we have found the enemy: it's us. Specifically, it's the Republican Party (the Regressive Party) that's been taken over by narrow-minded, self-delusional, fear-mongering authoritarians and their frightened followers who lack the critical thinking and blindly accept everything they're told, even if it's contrary to their own interests (universal healthcare, for instance).Dean does a great job of talking about how the history of the GOP and how it has changed in the last two decades and how amoral creeps and hypocrites like Cheney, Gingrich, and DeLay rose to the top.

  • Sarah Marios
    2019-04-27 03:04

    If you've ever wondered how the right wing took over U.S. politics and damaged it beyond all recognition... If you've pondered what really went on during the Nixon administration... Don't fail to read this book. The first couple of chapters are a bit challenging to read, but the rest is amazing. All the secrets of the Nixon administration pour out, and connect to the subsequent take-over by the GOP. The same cast of characters were present in subsequent decades, and exactly as corrupt as ever. It'd make a good novel of fiction. Don't they always say that truth is stranger than fiction?

  • Louise
    2019-04-04 04:13

    This book not only does what it is billed to do (apply psychological studies to political disposition) but also provides a basis for understanding today's conservativism.After discussing the ideas of what it means to be a conservative, Dean tackles situation of conservatives who do not have a deep tradition in America. The US was begun with a Declaration declaring all men equal (liberal), which was made to stick with a revolution in which conservatives were the loyalists and monarchists. Then there was a constitution with a Bill of Rights. Those with authoritarian psychological profiles are disposed to prefer order over rights and do not always see other races or religions their own. These authoritarian types gravitate to conservative politics and have come to dominate the Republican Party.I found Dean's differentiation of the various conservative think tanks (Cato, AEI, Heritage Fdtn, etc.) helpful. The portraits of conservatives, particularly the ones whom Dean had met (especially Pat Robertson) were interesting. In the J. Edgar Hoover portrait, I was intrigued by the comment that he "rigged" the Warren Commission. Does this imply that Hoover knew who killed JFK? Not having read the autobiography, I'm rather amazed at the things Dean quotes from it.A lot about electoral politics is explained by Dean's discussion on the attributes of the authoritarian personality which correlates with a conservative outlook. A psychological need for concrete answers is ready made for conservative campaigns in the TV era. Also, expedience correlating with authoritarianism (and hence, conservatism) predicts a much easier a path to power for conservatives than liberals. It's easy to see how opportunists who only seek power (and not contribute to the good of the country) will immediately see that they should play to a conservative base.There is a lot of meat in this very short book.

  • Erik Graff
    2019-04-23 06:55

    I picked this thing up in NW Wisconsin at the Hayward Public Library and read it with enjoyment in a day. Although a quick read, this is not a great book. Rather, it appears that Dean got his hands on some psychological surveys about various personality types as regards political beliefs and behavior. Studying this material he claims to have obtained some insight into what he perceives as a shift in the Republican Party from the conservatism of Taft and Goldwater towards the virtually antithetical beliefs held by the Republican leadership during the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first centuries, in other words from Nixon through Bush. To simplify, the Party has moved from libertarianism towards authoritarianism, becoming virtually fascistic.As I have little love for the leadership of either major party, a great deal of antipathy towards fascism and a generally libertarian, albeit socialistic, ethos, Dean's book is hard for me to be objective about. It sounds almost too good to be true these notions that the Republican leadership has been taken over by sociopaths and that their base is made up of revenants of the old party, who should leave it, and sheepish psychotics.A better book would have started with a critical examination of the psychosocial studies upon which Dean's claims are based. It would proceed to apply these studies to political figures and their followings irrespective of party affiliation. If an argument could be made charactizing either party, or factions of either party, in these terms, then so be it. As it is, Dean satisfies my emotions but fails to convince my intellect.

  • Julian
    2019-04-14 01:56

    I'm always looking for books, articles, or anything that explains not just *what* is going on with our current political climate (specifically, the religious right) but also WHY. This book, written by a more classic/old school conservative who feels betrayed by the directions the fundamentalist Christians are taking the Republican party he once held so near and dear, is a pretty amazing book. For one, the author is an insider, so he doesn't *want* to be talking all this shit about Republicans, but he feels like he has to, so it is interesting on that level. His main point is that there are two specific authoritarian personality types, one type for authoritarian followers and one type for authoritarian leaders, who are characterized by specific types of lack of morals/conscience, and how this has changed the Republican party over time until they are now basically a bunch of hypocrites with no conscience. He finds especially dangerous/amoral those Republicans who are both of the two authoritarian personality types (one such example being Dick Cheney). And, even more interesting, he finds that these personality types do not occur in such high rates - in fact hardly occur at all - among progressives/liberals. I recommend this highly, despite the fact that I'm fairly sure that I wouldn't agree with the author on plenty of things he didn't write this book about.

  • Leroy Seat
    2019-04-05 09:01

    This is a most interesting and helpful book, especially if you are a liberal Democrat. It would be much harder for conservative Republicans to read and appreciate.Like so many books, this one, too, would have been of greater value had I read it sooner to its publication. On the other hand, it might have been too depressing to have read it when Bush/Chaney were still in office.Dean (b. 1938), who was White House legal counsel to President Nixon for a thousand days, is sharp in his criticism of Nixon, but even sharper in criticism of Bush/Chaney. Near the end of the book Dean writes, "Nixon, for all his faults, had more of a conscience than Bush and Chaney" (p. 183). The book is largely about authoritarianism, and Dean says the driving force behind his writing this book was "the realization that our government has become largely authoritarian" (p. 183). A little earlier, he says, "I am not sure which is more frightening: another major terror attack or the response of authoritarian conservatives to that attack. Both are alarming prospects" (p. 180).Even though the book is more than five years old now, it is still very much worth reading and considering seriously.

  • Brian Ridge
    2019-03-31 04:25

    Conservatives Without Conscience by John Dean is yet another in a recent string of books (see INvasion of the Party Snatchers: How the Holy-Rollers and the Neo-Cons Destroyed the GOP by Victor Gold and Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy by Bruce Bartlett for other example) written by old-school conservatives (i.e. Goldwater conservatives) lamenting the current state of the conservative movement in America today. While Bartlett focused on the fake conservatism of the Bush II administration and Gold compared modern conservatism with that of the Goldwater and Reagan periods, Dean focuses on the psychology of conservatives and how today's conservative movement has fallen victim to authoritarian tendencies. Clearly, he argues, the same sort of unquestioning acquiesence to authority and power we saw in WW2 Germany and Italy is on display today on the political right, and we should be wary of the movement's growing power and influence.

  • Keith Rackley
    2019-04-06 01:01

    Dean defines what a Goldwater Conservative is and the value and legitimacy Conservatism has by contrasting today’s conservatives, those with and without conscience. He chronicles the major influences to, and changes in, the Republican party from Nixon though Bush (2008) that have resulted in the hollowing out of the Republican party of both intellectual legitimacy and the capacity to govern reasonably. Further, he references and explains recent research in authoritarianism psychology and group dynamics explaining the mechanisms through which these changes may have come about. In all, Dean shows us a troubling view of how the Republican party has been usurped by Conservatives Without Conscience and how this has led to a dangerous level of uncivility and inability to govern. This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand why there is the current vitriol and what it is really doing to our politics, our government and ultimately our country.

  • Sandy
    2019-04-07 02:09

    A must read for understanding some of the underlying reasons behind the bitter partisan divide in our country today. The title was inspired by a Senator Barry Goldwater work, Conservatives With Conscience, and intended to be a companion piece that Dean worked on with Goldwater. I mention this because I was put off by the title at first, thinking it guilty of the partisan name calling that often passes these days for serious political discourse. This book was extremely well documented, amazingly so, and as terribly cliche as the phrase eye-opening is, it is fitting. I lost count of the number of times I had to set the book down for a moment to process what I read and then wonder why I had not seen discussion of his points in the media. I first read this book a few years ago and find myself coming back to it as an aid in understanding the forces at work in current politics

  • Matt
    2019-04-15 02:16

    Former White House Counsel to Richard Nixon, John Dean provides a disturbing account of how the American conservative movement has come to be dominated by sociopaths referred to by clinical psychologists as “double high authoritarians,” who control others by playing on their fears. They also hold all others to very high standards of behavior and responsibility, while they themselves often act unethically and amorally.

  • Jane Baskin
    2019-04-08 05:10

    This is a stunning book, not your usual political analysis.John Dean has based his work on a famous psychological study, The Authoritarian Personality, conducted in the US post WWII. He has worked closely with a noted psychologist to gain an understanding of this personality type, both leaders and followers, and has applied this understanding to the current political scene in America. It is deep, frightening, and thought provoking. A must-read.

  • Harold
    2019-04-04 08:59

    Definitely worth reading. It's a little repetitive and at times tedious, but it is very informative and IS spot on in it's critique of what conservatism has evolved into.

  • Tom Schulte
    2019-03-28 02:03

    I have long through that supporting the Republican or Democratic parties in the USA is, basically, a personality test indicating whether one is resistant to change or embraces change. This is as basic and and analogous to have a party for introverts and one for extroverts. What confuses me is why the dichotomy is so all-encompassing to participation in the political process by the electorate. Democracies from Western Europe to India are noisy, boisterous affairs of multiple parties and coalition, a practical expression of the society's diversity.This 2006 book, not suffering from a recurring focus on the Bush-Cheney years and policies, comes from John Dean, who served as White House Counsel under U.S. President Richard Nixon and then helped to break the Watergate scandal with his testimony before the United States Senate. The book analyzes the evolution of the Republican Party, fallout from Watergate, and the different forms of conservatism, largely in terms of authoritarian personality. It was published in 2006 by Viking Press. The book makes extensive use of the research into right-wing authoritarianism of University of Manitoba Professor Bob Altemeyer. The title is a play on The Conscience of a Conservative, a seminal book attributed to Barry Goldwater and ghostwritten by L. Brent Bozell Jr. Dean claims that he and Goldwater had planned to write such a book in the 1980s in response to their disaffection with the religious right. The Altemeyer taxonomy of such personality types as "Social Dominator" and "Double High Authoritarian" in a gamut of Right Wing Authoritarianism and Social Dominance Orientation supports and clarifies for me a vision of this personality-driven ideology. The book, as good as it is, does nothing for me to understand why America endures such polarization. Not that Dean really drove at that. He does speak of re-balancing trends in the Republican party, such as the rise of the Goldwater Republicans after the persecution policies of McCarthyism. Then, of course we have a move to moderation with Reagan et al post-Watergate. Dean can speak first hand on both revivals of a more practical American conservatism. Dean, from 2006, doesn't offer any hope or signs of a similar thaw and I am not optimistic base don the Trump and Carson prominence in the pre-Primary election season as I read and write. However, I do feel some sanity and self-analysis showing through, hopefully, in Boehner's resignation rather than continue fruitless opposition politics and Paul Ryan requiring support for a cooperation platform to accept the Speaker role. “We need to move from an opposition party to being a proposition party,” he said.

  • Michael Hagan
    2019-04-21 02:56

    I bought this book through last year as research material for a novel I wrote about a ten-year-old boy from a Republican family who follows the 2012 presidential election. Throughout the year, I'd read a handful of books about Republicans in order to understand why they believe the things they believe and why they think the way they think. This book by John Dean was very helpful in understanding the authoritarian mindset and authoritarian follower perspective. Written in 2004, this book captures the positions and mindset I had observed last year during the Republican Primary debates. The positions expressed by Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Ron Paul seemed so extreme and grounded in fear. This book explains why the Republican party is no longer as mainstream nor as competitive as it once was. I particularly appreciated the work of Bob Altemeyer referenced in this book. The writing was clear and pointed with lots of barbs directed at the disastrous Bush/Cheney Administration. Well done, Mr. Dean!

  • Stevelvis
    2019-04-16 04:08

    CONSERVATIVES WITHOUT CONSCIENCE was written by another famous Republican and conservative, in the 1960s meaning of the term. Mr. Dean worked with President Nixon until that president's unconstitutional actions brought his own disgrace and the temporary downfall of the Republican Party. Check out Mr. Dean's book Worse Than Watergate which is an excellent indictment of the Bush junta. The latest book clearly explains what a real conservative and especially a truly compassionate conservative should be and historically speaking actually was for the most part until the modern political era, which took root in the 1960s-1970s and took power in the 1980s-1990s. He describes the psychology of today's radical Republicans who are anything but conservative. Mr. Dean argues that the actions of the current Republican Party and their misguided followers are dangerously authoritarian in nature and are marching this country ever closer to a state of fundamentalist fascism.

  • Jean
    2019-04-13 02:25

    Really well written. I didn't want to read at first because, you know, Nixon, but then I thought, know thine enemy. But it turns out he was not as much among the cabal of evil after all. And his scathing indictment of the current "conservatives" (quotes because that word hardly describes it, more like batshit crazy, or zealots, or tyrants, fascists, authoritarian theocracy true believers. But to be fair, the book was written before the madness of the current crop of republican presidential candidates and the completely willful ignorant crop of representatives at all levels of government, especially in the state legislatures. Liked what he said and the charts about inclinations of peoples' beliefs to land them in liberal or conservative and authoritarian and so on were good, maybe as an appendix.

  • Maciek
    2019-04-01 05:09

    A riveting read exploring what right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) is in psychological research and how it stands in opposition to traditional conservative values. Dean draws a line between what he sees conservatism was before 1968 to what it has become during and, especially, after the Nixon presidency. A lapsed conservative and a frequent MSNBC contributor himself, Dean eviscerates what he sees is the sheep mentality of a large portion of the conservative base, a facet, as he notes wryly, used by the Christian right and other modern right-wing political opportunists. The book is as much a historical analysis as it is a exploration in psychology that draws on the area's latest research.

  • Dj
    2019-03-28 07:19

    This is a well written book that I feel all should read, no matter your political leanings. It allowed for self-reflection, as well as insight to those around me. While it was written over 12 years ago, it provides insight to our current political climate.

  • Clidston
    2019-04-17 04:06

    The title of the book is a reference to Barry Goldwater's "The Conscience of a Conservative," and in fact Dean had initially planned to write this book together with Goldwater, but the senator's failing health and eventual death prevented it. Partly a clinical, psychological study and partly a catalog of the many sins of J. Edgar Hoover, G. Gordon Liddy, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Bill Frist and of course Dick Cheney. There's also some account of the intellectual history of conservatism, a number of thinkers' definitions of conservatism, and a longish and frankly jaw-dropping personal account of how Liddy and some conspiracy theorists attempted to pin the Watergate break-in on Dean twenty years later in a libelous book called "Silent Coup." Dean talks about personality types in terms of "social dominators," "right-wing authoritarian followers" and then the ominous "double highs" who combine characteristics of both of those other types. Dean considers everyone I listed above to be a double-high, although he goes marginally easier on Bill Frist than on the others. There's some truth to the criticisms that Dean is going a little far, for how can you "diagnose" people psychologically/sociologically if you're not treating them over some length of time? You could see this book as a collection of hit pieces on Republicans that Dean doesn't like (but whose conduct, I'd say, is objectively reprehensible), but I think that to do that is to ignore the truth of the larger theses a) that Republicans have become less moderate and much less civil since 1994 and b) that "American conservativism" has been redefined and popularized by this bunch as something almost antithetical to what it originally was: a philosophy of limited government characterized by the desire for transparency, strict constitutionalism, and overwhelming skepticism toward the prospect of an imperial executive (see FDR). I think you can (and very well might) agree to disagree about the psychological profiling and still be very, very concerned about the future of libertarian conservatism in the Republican party, and the future of the Republican party itself, after Bush.

  • Candace Rollins
    2019-03-29 05:18

    Reading this book just after reading "The Sociopath Next Door", was a coincidence, but the fact that similar personality types arose in each book and some of the same psychological studies were used to support these personalities types (like the work of Stanley Milgram)left me with a realization, that "The Grand Old Party" has been hijacked by the types of people that are amoral, destructive, and authoritative. I have learned that authoritative people blindly follow authority and authoritative dominants lead, especially double highs....the problem with this scenario is they often lead for their own gain ( power, money or ideology), with no consideration for their constituents (or really anyone). Dean goes back decades showing how the republican authoritative personality types are repeatedly elected and followed, that they always seems to burn out, leaving scorched earth in their wake, McCarthy, Hoover, Nixon, Delay, Gingrich and Cheney to name but a few. This book helped me understand the abhorrent state of right winged politics today.Unfamiliar words:xxiii titular: holding a formal title or position without any real authoritypg. 106 eschatogical: a branch of theology concerned with the end of dayspg. 107 compendium: a collection of concise informationpg. 151 hagiography: derogatory writing about another person

  • Algernon
    2019-03-27 02:08

    This book and its observations are central to discussions of our politics currently, and will be a footnote in retrospectives about this decade of our history. John Dean, legal counsel to President Richard Milhous Nixon at the time of Watergate, identifies himself with the conservatism of Barry Goldwater, and assesses the drift of today's conservatism towards authoritarianism from the fall of Nixon through the presidency of George W. Bush.In this book, he makes extensive reference to intriguing psychological studies of authoritarian personalities, both followers and leaders, and identifies "double highs" (personalities combining the traits of the authoritarian follower and the social dominator). It is an immensely readable commentary on the Bush/Cheney era and the threat it poses to our republic.

  • John
    2019-04-03 08:21

    Dean's book takes awhile to get started but eventually covers a few topics of interest. These include the diversity of factions with the conservative movement, the contradiction of using liberals as a focal point of critique when moderates elect the president, and the reason for reading the book in the first place: the Bob Altemeyer study of right wing authoritarian followers (RWA)and social dominaters (SDO). The book spends a lot of time kvetching about specific people and as a consequence is losing some relevance as most of the RWA/SDOs in the book are out of office or in jail. The book is not especially prescriptive about what to do about authoritarian politicians. I guess we will have to leave that up to the libertarians and classical liberals to address.

  • Dave Beebe
    2019-04-16 02:16

    An in depth analysis of the fall of conservatism from a self-proclaimed "Goldwater-conservative", John Dean. Dean was deeply involved in the events leading up to Watergate and became a key witness for the prosecution. I consider the finest part of this book to be where Dean documents the fight for morality becoming a major argument in the election process when the Moral Majority (Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Tim LaHaye, etc.) inflicted the issues toward abortion and gay marriage, good versus evil. This isn't an attack on conservatism or Republicans, by any means. It is, however, a full assault on the ones who have hijacked the Republican Party to what it is today.

  • Dustin
    2019-04-21 03:08

    I really liked this book, because it told me what I already knew about the modern right. But it told me in ways, and with facts, I hadn't considered. It's a great read, because it's written by a true conservative, and the logic used to explain the modern right is damn near impossible to refute. That's not to say that those whom do enjoy entertaining debate or differing opinions will like it. However, if you're a centrist, moderate, progressive, or any other word that means politically active on the side of common sense and the national well being, then you owe it to yourself to read this one.

  • Rachel Jerdin
    2019-04-19 08:11

    This book was written more than 10 years ago and is even more pertinent!This book is insightful of the authoritarian Republican. Though I know this is not the category of all Republicans, it fit for Nixon, Bush and Cheney and now Trump! This did not sound like dated information. The moderate Republicans were virtually all voted out of office with the advent of the Tea Party. At this point, it is the Democratic Party that has taken the place of Republican moderates. It is frightening to see this particular group which wants to make itself The Party of America. They have lied and cheated to make this happen. Though I don't want a Democratic Party behaving this way, there is something very wrong when a group can do illegal, amoral and unconscionable acts and still be allowed to represent us. Do we need to educate the electorate more in how to be civic minded to turn this around? My thought is that we are destroying the America that I understood and may never be a leader in the world again.

  • Dorothy
    2019-04-12 05:03

    It started s little slow for me but quickly became a really good explanation of conservatism. I'm a liberal Democrat and still have a hard time believing the whole Republican Party is corrupt. However, having said that it seems like I was reading a cautionary tale about 2016. I'm still hoping that some of these people will step up and stop what is going on right now. The president just gave the Russians , who he invited to our White House, secret info gathered by an ally who trusted us to be circumspect. Where are the republicans who have a conscience. This guy seems to be actively trying to destroy our democracy to line his pockets.unfortunately he's also clueless about how government runs so he takes his advice from everyone except the experts in the various fields. I just don't get it.