Responding to Jonah Goldberg’s discussion of neo-conservativism that appeared in National Review Online, Michael Novak offers his thoughts, also for NRO. Novak stresses the optimism of the neo-conservatives, and I think that this characteristic does distinguish them from many more traditional conservatives who, like their European counterparts, tended towards “gloom and doom.” The neo-conservatives, being mostly former Marxists trained to believe that history inevitably would turn their way, offered an entirely different outlook, which Novak describes as a “forward-looking confidence, nourished by a real hope.” Again, however, I would contend that Ronald Reagan was well on his way to transforming American conservatism into a forward-looking confident movement before the neo-conservatives signed on.
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