This post actually began as a response to one of our long time readers SwarthmoreMom on the post I did yesterday. SwM wrote that she would certainly vote for Obama over Nixon. While she and I are usually in political agreement on most issues, in this case I felt she missed my direction in that post, mostly due to my own failure to articulate the basis of my reasoning for writing it. When the reply to her went over 500 words I felt that it deserved to be articulated in another post, rather then as a comment.
In the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s our country had agreed on a certain set of basic ideas about government that had been established during FDR’s presidency.
Social Security was a good thing.
Labor unions had a rightful place in our country.
Those in need should be helped by the government.
Our income tax should be progressive.
Business required government regulation.
Even though the country was still run by the rich and powerful, basic tenets such as these were accepted by most Democrats and Republicans. This was why Barry Goldwater lost so badly in 1964, because at the time he represented a more radical conservative view that questioned the premises. While those who hated FDR’s reforms still had some representation in Congress, the majority of elected officials were either Centrist Right or Centrist Left. In the 50’s though a new intellectual strain of conservative thought arose led by young patricians such as William F. Buckley, who co-founded the extremely influential National Review, which led the charge against mainstream Republicans, that got Goldwater nominated and Rockefeller booed at the 1964 Republican Convention. In the wake of Goldwater’s defeat those arch Conservatives who represented the National Review, John Birch Society, etc. (including Nancy Reagan’s father, the Mars family, the Mellon family, the Koch family and General Electric) began to “invest” huge sums of money into foisting their regressive ideas on the country and electing far right conservatives.
Happily for this group the Civil Rights Movement arose, allowing privileged White Anger to be unleashed and turning the South Republican. While Nixon took advantage of this reaction in the “southern strategy” that got him elected, as President domestically he governed as a “Centrist Liberal”. At the same time in that strange melting pot called California this group elected Right Wing senators Murphy and Hayakawa, leading to electing Reagan governor. The Beltway pundit class, tied to corporate wealth, began to sense a change in the political winds and that group has always been made up of self-serving careerists following the shifting political balance of power with cynical single-mindedness. This all led to the election of Ronald Reagan and to the takeover of our then three major TV networks by Conservative Corporations. This takeover downgraded the Networks former independent News operations by putting them under the control of the Entertainment divisions. This was a very important, yet subtle move. Part of any successes the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements had was that these networks covered their operations with a fairly even hand. This did not go unnoticed by the burgeoning Ultra-Conservatives and so Reagan’s Presidential ascension was the signal to make their move. Continue reading