This is a brief historical analysis of the relationship between Cold War Liberalism and Neoconservatism. To discuss this connection in a meaningful manner, one has to first explore, what Cold War Liberalism was and how it manifested itself in the political positions of those described with this designation. I want to analyze this connection, because of a perceived necessity to go into the roots of many on the Anti-Trump right.
Cold War Liberalism was a momentary position of a group of intellectuals and political actors, who combined the support of the New Deal programs with a hawkish position on foreign policy and anticommunism. This group of actors included the historian Arthur Schlesinger, the senators Henry “Scoop” Jackson and Hubert Humphrey and the presidents Truman, Johnson and Kennedy. Most national Republicans were supportive of this ideal, as well.
This position, comparable to a Washington consensus in the 1950s and 1960s became strained with the emergence of both the New Left and the New Right. The New Left confused this group of liberal thinkers with then-radical positions and a libertinism uncomfortable to most of these political minds while confronting them on their support for the Vietnam War. On the other hand, the New Right attacked republican supporters of this consensus for their “Me-Too”-conservatism, which did not campaign on getting rid of the welfare state, but rather on a more professional way of handling these new programs. This was seen as a betrayal and led to a rightward march of the Republican Party after the lost 1964 election. The republican party began running on racially tinged anti-welfare and “Law & order” positions in the 1968 election, while the demise of the 1950s and 1960s Cold War Liberalism showed itself in the chaotic 1968 democratic campaign and primary elections, which ended with an unelected, but rather appointed candidate, Hubert Humphrey. The Republicans won and Richard Nixon became US president.
This schism between old-guard Democrats and New Left manifested itself most radically in the 1972 election when the Democrats chose a figure connected to the New Left on policy grounds, George McGovern over the reservations of Cold War Liberals. A group of former Trotskyists, who turned to the right of the Anti-Stalinist Left in the Social Democratic party or the center of the Democratic party broke off and continued to support Washington State Senator Henry Jackson, the so-called Senator from Boeing. This group, part of the New York Intellectuals criticized the anti-interventionist positions of McGovern and the more expansive welfare state of the New Society programs.
The most important figures in this turn to the democratic right against the main party were Irving Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, and Nathan Glazer.
They were influenced by figures such as labor policy expert Daniel Patrick Moynihan and saw the new welfare system as irresponsible and as a counter to the policies of personal responsibility. Over the course of the 1970s, they began looking for a new group for their kind of politics, ultimately leaving for the republican party, centering around former California governor and movie actor Ronald Reagan.
The modern Neoconservatism, as explained in the article linked here, was born thus of a mixture of disaffected Cold War Liberalism and opposition to a growing welfare state. The policies of the Bush White House in the 2000s can be seen as a continuation of this distinctly American theory of politics and the criticism of the Trump White House as an understandable mechanism of a movement intent of having an intellectual facade to republican governance.