The Right’s one defeat?

The author of a new history of conservatism argues the American right wing has effectively won every battle for the last four decades, save one:

Social conservatism mainly came about in response to, broadly speaking, the labor question. Beginning in the 1880s, the working classes started making democratic claims about the reform of the workplace, and many of the distinctive things we associate with conservatism come out of that experience. It was a roughly 100-year battle, and to all intents and purposes, they have won that battle. …

On civil rights, they weren’t able to beat back the fundamental challenge of the civil rights movement, but they certainly were able to beat the movement’s second wave and  really bring it to a standstill. Likewise with the women’s movement. Wage inequality is still quite large, and if you do a survey on all abortion rights and reproductive rights state-by-state, they are clearly winning that battle. They haven’t been able to overturn Roe v. Wade, but, effectively in many states, you just don’t have access to an abortion. Though I think, on a whole wide array, the one area where they probably have lost is on gay rights. …

Partially, I think they were caught off guard. I mean, gay rights was a very late arrival to the ’60s emancipation movement. It gets started in the ’70s but it really becomes a real force in the ’80s and the ’90s, and I think it’s partially a testimony to the gay rights movement. They completely reinvented a whole repertoire of social movement activity and were daring and defiant. But who knows? It’s still very early. The fact is, you still only have gay marriage in, what, five or six states.

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