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Thinking Big by Nathaniel Loewentheil, James Lardner

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4 Upholding Community Values

Deepak Bhargava and Seth Borgos

BETWEEN Barry Goldwater’s defeat and Ronald Reagan’s election to the presidency, American conservatives forged a cogent and effective political narrative. The signature policies of the conservative movement—tax cuts, privatization, deregulation—were grounded in a simple set of guiding principles: freedom is the highest public value; competition is the engine of progress; markets are intrinsically fair and rational; big government constrains liberty and fosters dependency. These principles, in turn, rested on a starkly individualistic worldview that emphasized the autonomy of the self and the voluntary character of society. While conservatives did not win every battle, they succeeded ...

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