A neoconservative (also spelled "neo-conservative"; colloquially, neocon) in American politics is someone presented as a conservative but who actually favors big government, interventionalism, and a hostility to religion in politics and government. The word means "newly conservative," and thus formerly liberal. Many neocons had been liberals in their youth and admired President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The defining position of a neoconservative is advocacy of an American foreign policy that seeks to install democracy in other nations. That reflects both their emphasis on foreign policy and their downplaying the significance of the differences in cultures and religion around the globe. The neoconservative position was discredited in the failure of democracy in the Iranian elections of 2009.
The neoconservative movement emerged in the mid 1970s, played a limited role in the Ronald Reagan Administration, and then had a voice in the Defense Department under the George W. Bush Administration after 2001.
Neoconservatives are often preferred by liberals to portray the conservative voice in the media, as in television talk shows, newspaper columnists, magazines, think tanks, and advisory positions in Republican Administrations. Irving Kristol and Leo Strauss were the major founders of the movement.
Some prominent spokesmen include Bill Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, Norman Podhoretz, Daniel Pipes, Charles Krauthammer, Richard Perle, Robert Kagan, Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Schwartz, Elliott Abrams, Ben Wattenberg and Carl Gershman.
In contrast to traditional conservatives, neoconservatives favor globalism, downplay religious issues and differences, are unlikely to actively oppose abortion and homosexuality. Neocons disagree with conservatives on issues such as classroom prayer, the separation of powers, cultural unity, and immigration. Neocons favor a strong active state in world affairs. Neocons oppose affirmative action with greater emphasis and priority than other conservatives do.
Neoconservatives did not dominate the George W. Bush administration but did support its foreign policy, and especially favored the Iraq War and its efforts to spread democracy worldwide. Neoconservatives also favor military action against Iran.