Unworkable Conservatism: Small Government, Freemarkets, and Impracticality

by Max J. Skidmore

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Unworkable Conservatism looks at what passes these days for “conservative” principles—small government, low taxes, minimal regulation—and demonstrates that they are not feasible under modern conditions. First, for many reasons, they are difficult, at best, to implement. Second, if they are put into place, they please no one, not even those who advocated them in the first place.

Most people now are too young to remember the presidency of Mr. Conservatism, himself, Ronald Reagan. If they are old enough, they generally have forgotten how dissatisfied those on the right were with the Reagan administration. Frustrated at not being able to bring themselves to criticize the Republican Party’s idol directly, they had to be content to screech at Reagan’s aides: “let Reagan be Reagan!”

Along with direct analysis and criticism, this book takes an innovative approach, and incorporates some of the author’s review essays. Using other important works as an intellectual launching pad, it adds to them and reveals numerous overlooked yet vital facts that should have been obvious even to casual observers. It makes clear that things in America have gone very wrong, how and why this has happened, and what might be done about it.

Max J. Skidmore is University of Missouri Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Thomas Jefferson Fellow at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He has been Distinguished Fulbright Lecturer to India, where he directed the American Studies Research Centre, and Senior Fulbright Scholar at the University of Hong Kong, where he headed the American Studies Programme. Among his numerous books are several dealing with the American presidency, with Social Security and Medicare, with American political thought, and with other topics, including American highway travel in the early 20th century. He is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance. His Ph.D. is from the University of Minnesota.