"The Drill": The Emergence of the "New Right" as a force in U.S. Conservative Politics during the Panama Canal Debates, 1977-1978

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Title: "The Drill": The Emergence of the "New Right" as a force in U.S. Conservative Politics during the Panama Canal Debates, 1977-1978
Author: Pfeffer, Stephen Todd
Advisors: Dr. Nancy Mitchell, Committee Chair
Abstract: This thesis examines the rise of the "New Right" in conservative American politics during the Panama Canal debates in 1977-1978. The "New Right" emerged from the frustration many conservatives felt towards the traditional Republican Party establishment because of the defeat of Barry Goldwater, the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, the policy of détente, and the scandal of Watergate. The "New Right" had financial, legislative and social components that worked together to promote its conservative agenda of lower taxes, vigorous anti-communism, and, in the early years of the Carter administration, opposition to the ratification of the Panama Canal treaties. This thesis looks specifically at the "New Right's" fundraisers, most notably Richard Viguerie, Terry Dolan, Paul Weyrich, and Howard Phillips, who raised money in order to influence legislation and provide support for conservative candidates; it also examines the members of Congress who worked in conjunction with this financial apparatus; finally, it analyzes the relationship of Ronald Reagan to the "New Right." The Panama Canal treaties debate served as a test case for the "New Right" to hone its fundraising and media skills on a national level. This work details two "New Right" tactics used to block U.S. Senate ratification of the treaties: the Panama Canal "truth squad" and the direct mail campaign. The "New Right" used the Panama Canal as a campaign issue during the 1978 midterm elections and the candidates it supported defeated three incumbent Democratic senators who had voted for ratification. During the Panama Canal debates, the "New Right" worked outside of the Republican Party to create an effective and well-organized grassroots organization.
Date: 2006-05-18
Degree: MA
Discipline: History
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/2234


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