GREAT BEND, Kan. - Sam Tanenhaus' book The Death of Conservatism is a scholarly and academic view of classical conservatism, and how today's self-described conservatives are far removed from classical conservativism.
Tanenhaus considers Edmund Burke and Disraeli as the definers of what conservatism really is. Politicians and writers like Dwight Eisenhower, Whittaker Chambers, William F. Buckley, Jr. and Nancy Kassebaum would be considered "classic conservatives."
Classic conservatives basically believe that government can be used to make a better society. They aim to keep what's good about government, and discard what the government doesn't do well. Classic conservatives believe that big corporations should be supervised, and that government is a benign force, if supervised and pruned back properly. Classic conservatives embrace our country as it is, but may want to make some adjustments here and there.
The "movement conservatives" of today believe that government is a malignant tumor that should be killed off in toto by cutting off the blood supply - tax dollars. The new conservatives believe in no real supervision of big business, that "the market knows best." The new conservatives believe "we've lost our country" and must find it.