A new political consensus is emerging

Michael Lind’s latest article for Policy Network, Beyond Reaganism and Clintonism: the emerging political order in the US, may have rendered this blog irrelevant. He has managed to summarize in a single, condensed article the entire political transformation I’ve been struggling to describe for years. It’s a humbling and slightly depressing read.

He describes 5 big trends that are closing the 20th century political order and ushering in something new. If he’s right, and his analysis is very persuasive, the emerging shape of the American political order is a sobering wakeup call for those of us who once dreamed of an “ownership society.” The factors he describes:

1) The collapse of conservatism

The Soviets were, ironically, the glue held the many disparate factions of American Conservatism together. No new logic or purpose has emerged to give conservatives a purpose after the demise of global communism.

The catastrophic hubris of the “War on Terror” destroyed the neo-conservative movement. The authoritarian tendencies of religious conservatives have rendered them deeply unpopular in an increasingly diverse and secular culture. Business and commercial interests have proven too out of step with the changing political landscape to advocated anything more effective or persuasive than laissez faire. Their influence has been blunted by the second major development in US politics.

2) The rise of the paranoid fringe

The old conservative order was mostly successful in suppressing the crazies. William F. Buckley managed to force Goldwater to repudiate the Tea Party of their time, cauterizing the GOP’s wacky right flank so that the party could go on to win five of the next six Presidential elections. With the conservative center compromised, the nutjobs are on the loose. From Lind’s article:

As fusionist conservatism has decayed, the paranoid and libertarian strains have come to define the emergent right in the US. It has become routine even for mainstream Republican conservatives to denounce progressive and centrist Democrats as “socialists,” while conspiracy theories about socialist and Muslim plots flourish among right-wing activists.

Now Buckley’s venerable National Review has turned loose loons like Mark Steyn to write material so utterly removed from reality that they may ultimately be finished off by a libel suit.

3) The new Neo-Confederate Right

Out of the tangled wreckage of the old conservative order has emerged a quasi-libertarian political wing. Through the Dixiecrats they brought into the GOP in the post Civil Rights Era, they are channeling an Antebellum, pre-Capitalist vision that is a dead letter at the national level. They are converting the GOP from the party of commerce and nationalism into regional rejectionist party with no purpose but to stop any and all Federal action, as they did in the 1850’s.

4) The death of the New Democrats

The collapse of the conservative movement is leaving Clintonian Democrats politically isolated. As wingnut rabble renders the “conservative” brand increasingly unpalatable, business friendly Democrats are finding themselves in much the same position as the old commercial wing of the Republican Party. They are both relatively popular with general election voters and well-funded, but neither has the ground presence required to exercise any grassroots influence in their party. They are being crushed between raving paranoids on the right and an increasingly uncompromising big-government left.

5) Rise of the liberal Left

The entire Democratic establishment is beginning to shift back to the left. Despite all the Republican “Obamacare” hysteria, we may look back on the Affordable Care Act as the last legislative achievement of 20th century conservatism.

“Obamacare” was conceived by the Heritage Foundation, promoted by Republican Congressmen in the ’90’s, first implemented by a Republican Governor, and forced onto more Progressive Democratic politicians as a centrist compromise. With the power of the conservative movement shattered, there is little force in either party to blunt the future ambitions of the progressive left and they are starting to flex their long-atrophied muscles.

From the article:

The left-right divide in the years and decades ahead may be defined more by economic differences between increasingly assertive social democratic progressives and a more libertarian, anti-statist right. Like Richard Nixon, whose election marked a transition between the New Deal era of Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower and the conservative era of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, Barack Obama may prove to be a transitional figure, marking the divide between one era in American politics and the next.

We came out of the Reagan Era with a solid center-right bloc that dominated American politics. Twenty years of shrill, self-righteous battles to limit sexual freedom and protect an outdated white cultural bloc has left the Republican Party deflated.

The emerging new rivalry seems to pit left wing progressives against 19th century “Libertarians.” There is no major political bloc remaining to promote capitalism or the stabilizing influence of American global power. It’s amazing and depressing how badly things can turn out after you “win.”

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Political Theory
35 comments on “A new political consensus is emerging
  1. rucasdad says:

    We’ll get this right sooner or later…

    http://gifb.in/6OsV

  2. Turtles Run says:

    I believe the Neo-Confederates reared their ugly head last night during the Super Bowl. Apparently, the song “America the Beautiful” has an English only clause that we did not know about. That Republican minority outreach program seems to have one minor problem – it involves Republicans.

  3. CaptSternn says:

    Oh … my … lord. Clinton and Obama as conservatives? Business friendly democrats? Heritage Foundation proposed Obamacare? Is this piece supposed to be serious, or was it meant for the Onion?

    The communist movement is no longer “over there”, it is now internal. The PPACA wasn’t a conservative compromise, and the Heritage Foundation never proposed such a thing. It is and always was a means to destroy private sector health insurance and health care. Obama, democrats and their supporters said so up front, and not one single republican voted for it. The Heritage Foudation once proposed a tax deduction for people that bought catastrophic coverage, then withdrew it after some research, It was never meant to cover birth control or maternity care for elderly men.

    Reagan was no real conservative. He had a good foriegn policy, but his domestic agenda was left of center. We have not had a real conservative party for decades. Now anything not left of Karl Marx is considered far right extremism.

    These United States are not meant to be socialist nor communist, and there are a lot of people here that are beginning to reject the movement by the left towards those things. Think of the Civil Rights movement, only bigger and with people of all colors, races and religions fighting for it. Fighting for the ideas of individual liberty and rights as envisioned by the founding fathers of this state and this nation.

    We are coming to a real turning point in this nation. Either we will fall into the oppression of socialism and communism, or we, the people, will stand up more for federalism, individual liberty and rights, a constitutional government. It is becoming more of a tug-of-war, and the rope is getting stretched ever tighter andd tighter with the left pulling harder and harder to destroy this noation as it has stood for over two centuries.

    • John Galt says:

      The Heritage foundation proposed the idea of health insurance exchanges (they weren’t alone) and wrote numerous times in support of Romneycare. While the PPACA might be more bureaucratic and overbearing that they proposed or supported, the innards of the plan were indeed supported by Heritage, before the rightward lurch of the GOP and their minions.

      To call anything Obama has done “communist” or to suggest we are on a path towards that is utterly and completely ignorant of the economic, political, or historical meaning of that word. It’s simply hysterical nonsense.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Look up the definition of socialism, one part is “a step moving from capitalism to communism”. Obama ha sopenly stated he wants things like government run health care, socialism. He has appointed people that openly brag about being self avowed communists.

        There are telling moments from the left, like trying to blame republicans for the PPACA when none voted for it. If it was something good, the left would be making a point of republicans opposing it and trying to repeal it rather than put it on them. They balk when somebody says that freedoms and rights are being taken away, claiming that it isn;t happening. But when given a direct example, they come back and say that people shouldn’t have freedom or rights to begin with. SOP for the left.

      • flypusher says:

        I first heard the paranoid Socialism to Communism slippery slope ranting back when I was in 6th grade (and that was a while ago). We aren’t any closer to Communism then than we are now.

      • Turtles Run says:

        “Look up the definition of socialism, one part is “a step moving from capitalism to communism”.”

        Most of the free nations of this world are socialist, we are a socialist nation. Modern society by its very nature embraces socialism to a certain degree. This nations finest moments and achievements are all based on some form of socialism – moon landings, medical advances, economic growth, and becoming a world power. The communist threat right-wingers pretend still exists scares no one but the irrational conspiracy theorists, kind of like my 2 year old’s fear of the closet monster.

        Keep your imaginary version of freedom, it smells too much like authoritarianism to me.

  4. way2gosassy says:

    By the way Chris, this blog will never be irrelevant as long as you keep writing it and we keep discussing it. If you think this discussion dies after it is committed to the written word you are wrong. At least for my part, I continue to discuss these issues with friends and family even if I don’t post on every article.

    • Tuttabella says:

      I agree about the power of the written word. I wasn’t around at the time of Desperado’s blog, and I don’t know what transpired over there, but from what I’ve read here, it’s still fresh in people’s minds years after it ended.

      • desperado says:

        There’s only one who can’t or won’t get over what happened back then. No need to call names, you know who you are. (Dan)

      • DanMan says:

        That we caught you in a huge lie was all I really got out of you and Bob Cavner Craig. And for what? You and your old liberal idiot buddies have foisted huge debt, no growth progressive crap on the generations behind you. Nothing new.

        And you did it with lies. Your side didn’t debate. You lied. You put together these echo chambers of envious whiners frustrated with their stations in life by offering utopia on someone else’s dime. Again, nothing new.

        And now GOPlaugher is riding off into the sunset, like you did, feeling ever so proud of the division you were able to foment.

      • DanMan says:

        Truth hurt you poor little union minion? Bob took all his money and moved away to Colorado. Your stuck here with no “income mobility”. Own it loser. Hope your pension is enough to carry you.

    • Tuttabella says:

      I know I often complain about the negative, repetitive nature of blogs, but I have to admit I’ve learned a lot here. Hey, how else can I hone my ideas if I’m not challenged? And as I’ve said before, repetition and reinforcement are the keys to learning. I don’t care much for the dirty world of politics, but I do enjoy political philosophy, the theoretical aspects, so I guess this is the place for that. It’s safe here in that respect.

  5. way2gosassy says:

    It is at a point that if both parties don’t start building bridges to close the divide between them they will both become irrelevant. President Obama may be despised by the right but in my opinion he has been much more conservative than the right.

    The rights hard push on social issues are giving the far left all the ammunition they need to start crawling out of the woodwork again. I’m not sure if Democrats will be able to keep them quiet much longer.

    The right wants to deregulate most businesses in order to ” create jobs ” and then we have a chemical spill into a waterway that provides water for a large chunk of one state, while oil spills and train wrecks are destroying whole neighborhood’s and small towns not to mention the 30 or 40 small earthquakes occurring in a small town in Texas that is most likely due to fracking. Explosions in plants like West, Texas, Pasadena, Texas City and Deer Park. While we have the EPA and OSHA that are supposed to provide oversight for employees and communities they are so underfunded that they are basically shackled.

    While I do not believe that the government is the answer to all our woes it does have a purpose, although I’m not sure if our elected officials even have a clue what that should be anymore.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Sassy, your concerns about workplace safety and the environment are mine as well.

      Dirtying a finite resource, water, to produce a fuel that will dirty the air for a generation or two is the opposite of good thinking. And human-made earthquakes? How do they fit the theory of some who say climate change isn’t possible because humans are just too feeble to have that kind of impact.

      I hope that chemical spill in West Virginia will make more people aware of just how unregulated and un-tested and un-studied are the thousands of chemicals that have been introduced into our homes and work places. Truly, we’re crazy to let that continue.

  6. flypusher says:

    “Michael Lind’s latest article for Policy Network, Beyond Reaganism and Clintonism: the emerging political order in the US, may have rendered this blog irrelevant.”

    No, because if something is worth saying, it’s worth repeating. Also people like playing here.

    ‘It’s amazing and depressing how badly things can turn out after you “win.” ‘

    Maybe not. There are plenty of fables and parables out there about how getting what you want might turn out how you imagined.

    • flypusher says:

      ..might NOT turn out how you imagined.

      (that was also before coffee)

      • Tuttabella says:

        Fly, I understood exactly what you meant, since I had already finished my cup of coffee when I read your post.

    • CaptSternn says:

      Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. Remember, democrats will not always be in control. Things are set up very well for tea party backed conservative republicans this year, and maybe for the oval office in 2016 (though that is a very long ways off, but there will be another GOP president and republican controlled congress again). All these powers democrats and Obama are creating will then be run by strong willed conservatives. Sure you want us to have that kind of power and precident for its use?

      • flypusher says:

        There aren’t any “new powers” here, this is just the standard bitching and moaning from the majority/ minority about the minority/ majority using every advantage or trick at their disposal. It’s political jitterbug, as has been played out ever since I started watching politics.

        As for the TP, as long as they keep backing candidates like Angle and Akin and O’ Donnell and Mourdock, I’ m not seeing them as gaining any national offices. Go ahead and nominate Cruz in 2016, I dare you.

  7. desperado says:

    “No new logic or purpose has emerged to give conservatives a purpose after the demise of global communism.”

    This may have been the case BO, Before Obama. Omitting the logic part of the equation, the purpose was decided on the day of his inauguration—a monolithic opposition to everything. In 2010 this morphed into the stated number one priority of ‘making him a one-term president.’

    Points 2 and 3 are also aligned with the election and re-election of Obama. The paranoid fringe has gotten ever fringier over the last 5 years, and the ‘South shall rise again’ neo-confederate wing came increasingly more and more into a place of prominence and power in the Party once the black guy took office.

    • Tuttabella says:

      Hey, at least they saw Mr. Obama actually reaching the end of his first term. These “fringers” at least went about it the proper way — try to vote him out of office instead of resorting to drastic measures as many people had feared might happen. I know there’ve been threats on his life, but these seem to be from people who are truly mentally unstable, not just politically “out there.”

    • Tuttabella says:

      I’m glad Mr. Obama was voted in for a second term, if only to remove our self-consciousness as a nation over having elected our first Black president. The novelty has worn off, and now he is just a second-term president like any other, hair turned gray due to stress, muddling his way through, bickering with Congress, pleasing some of his supporters while disappointing others, trying to cement his legacy before leaving office. I think we are a post-racial nation in that respect.

    • objv says:

      desp: Obama, who you refer to as “the black guy,” has done African-Americans no favors. Black unemployment is still at 12.5% while white unemployment is at 6.2%. The push to legalize 12 million illegal immigrants, if successful, would further erode the ability of some black Americans to find work and negotiate a fair wage.

      The Obama White House has also been hypocritical in their treatment of women.

      From http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/013014-688310-obama-equal-pay-for-equal-work.htm

      “Last September, economist Mark J. Perry noted that an analysis of salary data from the 2013 Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff showed the 228 female White House employees were being paid a median annual salary of $65,000 while 231 male staffers earned a median annual salary of nearly $75,000.”

      desp, I agree with Tuttabella in that it is a good thing for an African-American to be elected as our president, but If you go beyond party rhetoric, you need to ask yourself how Obama has done based on facts.

      • desperado says:

        And you need to look at ALL the facts and not cherry-pick the negatives.

        That being said, the rabid opposition to Obama from the right-wing fringe and the neo-confederates has nothing to do with job performance. Communist, Marxist, Muslim, dictator, destroyer of the constitution, etc. have no basis in fact. Those attacks are straight out of the Lee Atwater Southern Strategy. It’s no longer acceptable to use ‘that word’ so it morphs into the others. Same package, just a different wrapping.

      • DanMan says:

        No Craig. When a liar such as yourself attempt to declare what truth is you come off looking like the crazy one. Obama let Ayers disclose his socialist curiosity for a reason.

      • desperado says:

        Yeah, I’M the one who comes off as crazy.

      • DanMan says:

        Own it Craig.

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