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Conservatives Without Conscience

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,243 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
On the heels of his national bestseller Worse Than Watergate, John Dean takes a critical look at the current conservative movement

In Conservatives Without Conscience, John Dean places the conservative movement's inner circle of leaders in the Republican Party under scrutiny. Dean finds their policies and mind- set to be fundamentally authoritarian, and as such, a danger
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Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 28th 2007 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,508)
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Will Byrnes
Oct 24, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a must read for those with an interest in contemporary political affairs. Dean, a Goldwater Republican, is interested in authoritarianism within the conservative movement. He begins by looking for a definition of conservatism. This is no mean feat, as the definition is as variable as the people who supposedly ascribe to this ideology. In the preface, for example, (p xxxvii) he quotes Robert Vaughn, a professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, who defines democracy and ...more
Mike Jensen
Jul 14, 2009 Mike Jensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I spent two years researching the answer to the question, “Why has political discussion become so contentious, rude, and non-consensus making over the past three decades?” I came a long way towards answering that question, but not all the way. John Dean is a traditional conservative, a Goldwater conservative, and indeed he and Barry Goldwater would have written this book together if Goldwater had not died. Dean takes everything I figured out and takes it further, placing what I knew in a larger ...more
Joyce
Aug 18, 2009 Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Dean was at a loss to understand what had happened to the Republican party since the Nixon days. Today's Republican party is not like the Republican party he first joined. He wanted to understand.This book is the result of his research. He found the answer in new research into the Conservative authoritarian personality. 25% of the the US population is made up of Conservative Authoritarian Followers. They are 1)submissive, 2)agressive 3)believe in inequality and 4)are self-righteous. They ar ...more
Brian Ayres
Apr 07, 2007 Brian Ayres rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Psychological research is typically dismissed for its lack of causal relationships between two variables. Unlike hard sciences, psychologists cannot put a cause and effect label on an individual's behavior like Newton did with the apple.

However, make no mistake, there is an importance to psychological research, and that importance is underscored in this book by John Dean.

Dean uses the work of political/social psychologist Bob Altemeyer and others in the field to outline the four tenets of beha
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Sarah Marios
Oct 16, 2011 Sarah Marios rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you've ever wondered how the right wing took over U.S. politics and damaged it beyond all recognition... If you've pondered what really went on during the Nixon administration... Don't fail to read this book. The first couple of chapters are a bit challenging to read, but the rest is amazing. All the secrets of the Nixon administration pour out, and connect to the subsequent take-over by the GOP. The same cast of characters were present in subsequent decades, and exactly as corrupt as ever. I ...more
Erik Graff
Feb 01, 2011 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: conservatives
Recommended to Erik by: no one
I picked this thing up in NW Wisconsin at the Hayward Public Library and read it with enjoyment in a day.

Although a quick read, this is not a great book. Rather, it appears that Dean got his hands on some psychological surveys about various personality types as regards political beliefs and behavior. Studying this material he claims to have obtained some insight into what he perceives as a shift in the Republican Party from the conservatism of Taft and Goldwater towards the virtually antithetic
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Leroy Seat
Oct 01, 2011 Leroy Seat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a most interesting and helpful book, especially if you are a liberal Democrat. It would be much harder for conservative Republicans to read and appreciate.

Like so many books, this one, too, would have been of greater value had I read it sooner to its publication. On the other hand, it might have been too depressing to have read it when Bush/Chaney were still in office.

Dean (b. 1938), who was White House legal counsel to President Nixon for a thousand days, is sharp in his criticism of Ni
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Julian
May 09, 2008 Julian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm always looking for books, articles, or anything that explains not just *what* is going on with our current political climate (specifically, the religious right) but also WHY. This book, written by a more classic/old school conservative who feels betrayed by the directions the fundamentalist Christians are taking the Republican party he once held so near and dear, is a pretty amazing book. For one, the author is an insider, so he doesn't *want* to be talking all this shit about Republicans, b ...more
Brian Ridge
May 29, 2010 Brian Ridge rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Conservatives Without Conscience by John Dean is yet another in a recent string of books (see INvasion of the Party Snatchers: How the Holy-Rollers and the Neo-Cons Destroyed the GOP by Victor Gold and Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy by Bruce Bartlett for other example) written by old-school conservatives (i.e. Goldwater conservatives) lamenting the current state of the conservative movement in America today. While Bartlett focused on the fake conse ...more
Keith Rackley
Sep 19, 2010 Keith Rackley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dean defines what a Goldwater Conservative is and the value and legitimacy Conservatism has by contrasting today’s conservatives, those with and without conscience. He chronicles the major influences to, and changes in, the Republican party from Nixon though Bush (2008) that have resulted in the hollowing out of the Republican party of both intellectual legitimacy and the capacity to govern reasonably. Further, he references and explains recent research in authoritarianism psychology and group d ...more
Richard
Feb 20, 2011 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was so enlightening and frightening. If you care about America, we have found the enemy:
it's us. Specifically, it's the Republican Party (the Regressive Party) that's been taken over by narrow-minded, self-delusional, fear-mongering authoritarians and their frightened followers who lack the critical thinking and blindly accept everything they're told, even if it's contrary to their own interests (universal healthcare, for instance).

Dean does a great job of talking about how the histor
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Michael Hagan
Jan 29, 2013 Michael Hagan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book through Half.com last year as research material for a novel I wrote about a ten-year-old boy from a Republican family who follows the 2012 presidential election. Throughout the year, I'd read a handful of books about Republicans in order to understand why they believe the things they believe and why they think the way they think. This book by John Dean was very helpful in understanding the authoritarian mindset and authoritarian follower perspective. Written in 2004, this book ...more
Clidston
The title of the book is a reference to Barry Goldwater's "The Conscience of a Conservative," and in fact Dean had initially planned to write this book together with Goldwater, but the senator's failing health and eventual death prevented it.
Partly a clinical, psychological study and partly a catalog of the many sins of J. Edgar Hoover, G. Gordon Liddy, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Bill Frist and of course Dick Cheney. There's also some account of the intellectual history of conserv
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Louise
Sep 02, 2013 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us-politics
This book not only does what it is billed to do (apply psychological studies to political disposition) but also provides a basis for understanding today's conservativism.

After discussing the ideas of what it means to be a conservative, Dean tackles situation of conservatives who do not have a deep tradition in America. The US was begun with a Declaration declaring all men equal (liberal), which was made to stick with a revolution in which conservatives were the loyalists and monarchists. Then th
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Stevelvis
Feb 17, 2008 Stevelvis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
CONSERVATIVES WITHOUT CONSCIENCE was written by another famous Republican and conservative, in the 1960s meaning of the term. Mr. Dean worked with President Nixon until that president's unconstitutional actions brought his own disgrace and the temporary downfall of the Republican Party. Check out Mr. Dean's book Worse Than Watergate which is an excellent indictment of the Bush junta. The latest book clearly explains what a real conservative and especially a truly compassionate conservative shoul ...more
Sandy
Jul 01, 2008 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for understanding some of the underlying reasons behind the bitter partisan divide in our country today. The title was inspired by a Senator Barry Goldwater work, Conservatives With Conscience, and intended to be a companion piece that Dean worked on with Goldwater. I mention this because I was put off by the title at first, thinking it guilty of the partisan name calling that often passes these days for serious political discourse. This book was extremely well documented, amazingly ...more
Dave Beebe
Aug 10, 2011 Dave Beebe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An in depth analysis of the fall of conservatism from a self-proclaimed "Goldwater-conservative", John Dean. Dean was deeply involved in the events leading up to Watergate and became a key witness for the prosecution. I consider the finest part of this book to be where Dean documents the fight for morality becoming a major argument in the election process when the Moral Majority (Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Tim LaHaye, etc.) inflicted the issues toward abortion and gay marriage, good versus ev ...more
Tom Schulte
Oct 21, 2015 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have long through that supporting the Republican or Democratic parties in the USA is, basically, a personality test indicating whether one is resistant to change or embraces change. This is as basic and and analogous to have a party for introverts and one for extroverts. What confuses me is why the dichotomy is so all-encompassing to participation in the political process by the electorate. Democracies from Western Europe to India are noisy, boisterous affairs of multiple parties and coalition ...more
Jane Baskin
Sep 24, 2010 Jane Baskin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a stunning book, not your usual political analysis.

John Dean has based his work on a famous psychological study, The Authoritarian Personality, conducted in the US post WWII. He has worked closely with a noted psychologist to gain an understanding of this personality type, both leaders and followers, and has applied this understanding to the current political scene in America.

It is deep, frightening, and thought provoking. A must-read.
Candace Rollins
Oct 12, 2015 Candace Rollins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book just after reading "The Sociopath Next Door", was a coincidence, but the fact that similar personality types arose in each book and some of the same psychological studies were used to support these personalities types (like the work of Stanley Milgram)left me with a realization, that "The Grand Old Party" has been hijacked by the types of people that are amoral, destructive, and authoritative. I have learned that authoritative people blindly follow authority and authoritative d ...more
Matt
Dec 27, 2008 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Former White House Counsel to Richard Nixon, John Dean provides a disturbing account of how the American conservative movement has come to be dominated by sociopaths referred to by clinical psychologists as “double high authoritarians,” who control others by playing on their fears. They also hold all others to very high standards of behavior and responsibility, while they themselves often act unethically and amorally.
Jean
Feb 14, 2016 Jean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really well written. I didn't want to read at first because, you know, Nixon, but then I thought, know thine enemy. But it turns out he was not as much among the cabal of evil after all. And his scathing indictment of the current "conservatives" (quotes because that word hardly describes it, more like batshit crazy, or zealots, or tyrants, fascists, authoritarian theocracy true believers. But to be fair, the book was written before the madness of the current crop of republican presidential candi ...more
Linda
John Dean finds the inner circle of Republicans to be fundamentally authoritarian, amoral and a danger to the democracy of our founding fathers. A cautionary tale that is as valid today as when it was published in 2006. Reading this at the same time as Kidding Ourselves: The Hidden Power of Self-Decption by Joseph Hallinan was particularly interesting as we see people who vote because of crowd mentality or because their parents did or who are so sure that what they want to believe is real that t ...more
David Sawyer
At times it was very difficult to trudge through this book. I thought it would never end, until all of a sudden I was finished. 300 something pages total, but about 160 pages were part of the appendices. I read the e-book version, so this wasn't obvious to me when I started reading. But "The End" was a pleasant surprise to say the least.

Dean is (or was) a "Goldwater Conservative." His premise is that today's Republican party has been taken over by a small number of authoritarians who refuse to c
...more
Libertine
Sep 26, 2007 Libertine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
John Dean, a traditional conservative in the mold of Barry Goldwater, was moved to write this book after seeing the changes in his beloved Republican party over the last twenty-five years, changes, he believes, that betray the principles of classic conservatism.

Dean pinpoints this change to a growing authoritarian mindset within his party, accelerated by the influence of Religious Right.

He gives an overview of the history of conservatism in the United States, showing how earlier generations of c
...more
Algernon
Jan 15, 2008 Algernon rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, psychology
This book and its observations are central to discussions of our politics currently, and will be a footnote in retrospectives about this decade of our history.

John Dean, legal counsel to President Richard Milhous Nixon at the time of Watergate, identifies himself with the conservatism of Barry Goldwater, and assesses the drift of today's conservatism towards authoritarianism from the fall of Nixon through the presidency of George W. Bush.

In this book, he makes extensive reference to intriguing
...more
Ietrio
May 22, 2016 Ietrio rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: junk
Just like Catholics and Protestants, the US seem to have a confrontation between liberals and conservatives. A pointless discussion about who is worse. With smart and eloquent arguments like 'National Review writer Ramesh Ponnuru, who is well versed in all matters conservative, said that...'
John
Jul 24, 2013 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dean's book takes awhile to get started but eventually covers a few topics of interest. These include the diversity of factions with the conservative movement, the contradiction of using liberals as a focal point of critique when moderates elect the president, and the reason for reading the book in the first place: the Bob Altemeyer study of right wing authoritarian followers (RWA)and social dominaters (SDO). The book spends a lot of time kvetching about specific people and as a consequence is l ...more
James Hatton
Nov 23, 2014 James Hatton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another criticism of the modern Republican party. By which, I mean the one that rose to the fore after George H. W. Bush. Anyone who was around in 1972-1974 will recognize the author's name. Others may need to Google it. This book is worth reading.
Maciek
Apr 24, 2015 Maciek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, english
A riveting read exploring what right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) is in psychological research and how it stands in opposition to traditional conservative values. Dean draws a line between what he sees conservatism was before 1968 to what it has become during and, especially, after the Nixon presidency. A lapsed conservative and a frequent MSNBC contributor himself, Dean eviscerates what he sees is the sheep mentality of a large portion of the conservative base, a facet, as he notes wryly, used b ...more
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John W. Dean served as White House Counsel for United States President Richard Nixon from July 1970 until April 1973. In this position, he became deeply involved in events leading up to the Watergate burglaries and the subsequent Watergate scandal cover-up. He was referred to as the "master manipulator of the cover-up" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He pleaded guilty to a single fel ...more
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“Social conservatism and neoconservatism have revived authoritarian conservatism, and not for the better of conservatism or American democracy. True conservatism is cautious and prudent. Authoritarianism is rash and radical. American democracy has benefited from true conservatism, but authoritarianism offers potentially serious trouble for any democracy.” 43 likes
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