With the rise of President Donald Trump as the head of the Republican Party, once a Democrat and liberal on many social issues, what...

With the rise of President Donald Trump as the head of the Republican Party, once a Democrat and liberal on many social issues, what does it mean to be a conservative today? What is the glue that connects Trump to other figures and ideas central to the conservative movement, both historical and contemporary? Jeffrey Dudas has an answer to this question: paternalism. Dudas has written Raised Right: Fatherhood in Modern American Conservatism (Stanford University Press, 2018). He is Associate Professor of Political Science and Affiliate Faculty of American Studies at the University of Connecticut.

For Dudas, what links corporate interests, small-government libertarians, social and racial traditionalists, and evangelical Christians together is a paternal rights discourse that centers around the importance of fatherhood and the family. Raised Right focuses on three conservative figures: National Review editor William F. Buckley, Jr., President Ronald Reagan, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Through extensive analysis of their writing and speeches, Dudas argues that conservatives have focused on paternal discipline as an organizing principle of their worldview since the post-World War II period. Though Trump is not the focus of the book, it is hard to read Raised Right without thinking about the President’s style, rhetoric, and current policy agenda as illustrative of Dudas’ thesis.


This podcast was hosted by Heath Brown, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, John Jay College and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. You can follow him on Twitter @heathbrown.

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