The old right, which I would define as Anglo-Saxon traditionalism, was obliterated in America during the first years of the 20th century. When Wilson abandoned traditional American isolationism in favor of Teddy Roosevelt’s jingoistic internationalism, American conservatism was finished as a dominant political ideology. It could not exist in a world where America was an active participant in European intrigues. It staggered along after Wilson, until the Great Depression delivered the final blow.
What replaced it was the mild corporatism of FDR that was an adaptation of what we would come to understand as European fascism. In America this meant that the government would be the referee between business and labor, but sometimes marshaling both sides in support of national goals, while other times putting a thumb on the scale to help one side or the other. Mussolini would fit right in with the Democrats, even today.
The “conservatism” that emerged post-war was nothing like the old version. Instead, it was intended as a brake on the part of American corporatism that was always on the lookout for monsters to destroy. It’s why conservatism has such a terrific losing streak. You beat crusades with brute force or by de-legitimizing them, neither of which is in the modern conservative toolkit.
The New Deal coalition carried on brilliantly in the two decades after the war, mostly because the rest of the world was in rubble. It’s not hard to be the economic superpower when everyone else is rebuilding from the greatest civilizational catastrophe in human history. America was winning by default. Then the rest of the world got back on its feet and the party was over. The 70’s saw a decade of economic and cultural decay not seen in America since the Depression.
The mathematics of the New Deal coalition simply could not hold up in a competitive world where cheap labor and cheap land was still available in huge quantities. The Japanese could deliver better cheaper commodity products like economy cars and transistor radios. The Europeans could deliver better middle brow items popular with the middle class.
The solution was not a dismantling of the New Deal system of governance. Instead, what emerged was a politics of necessity. Both sides of the political class settled on new currency arrangements formalized in the Louvre Accords. Credit money controlled by the Federal Reserve would allow America to wage the Cold War, maintain the New Deal politics at home and provide the American middle class with a standard of living the political system required.
This looked like a winner. The 80’s saw a booming economy with only a small hiccup at the end. That was followed by another boom that lasted until the tech bubble burst. Even so, the recovery in the Bush years convinced everyone the party was still going. What they did not see is that the New Deal economic arrangements were being supplanted by the emerging global capitalism created by credit money.
The brewing revolt is due, in large part, to the fact that American politics has remained locked in amber. The one side dreams of new noble causes to which they endeavor to rally the masses. The other side wrings its hands and makes snarky comments about those crazy liberals. On the one side it is the politics of old women thinking they can still dine out on their looks. On the other side it is the politics of old men complaining about the kid’s music today.
Sanders and Trump are not leaders of new political movements. Both are where they are because they are willing to put a finger in the chest of their respective party leaders. Neither man makes a great case for himself, but like those Muslim men wandering into Germany, threatening to collapse Europe, they correctly see that the old guard is a collection of yesterday men, unable to defend their position.
The wailing and moaning coming from the Conservative Industrial Complex conceals the terrible truth at the core of their thing. That is, there’s nothing there. The “movement” they carry on about has nothing to show for itself since the 80’s and now it is being knocked out of the box by a guy they call a “witless ape.” Whatever it was or intended to be, it’s just an artifact of a bygone era now. It’s a museum piece.
The noise on the Right has drowned out what’s happening on the other side. Sanders is an unreconstructed Stalinist for goodness sake. That said, his arguments sound pretty good against a party that thinks the plight of men in sundresses is a great crusade. Sanders offering free tuition sounds sensible compared to offering free rubbers to coeds. Sanders may have his head up his ass, but the rest of his party has theirs in their vagina.
America is long overdue for an overhaul of its political system. The yesterday men of both parties are like guests who won’t leave. Eventually, they have to be made to leave. That’s what we’re seeing today. The wrecking ball is swinging, preparing the way for what comes next. If Trump and Sanders are a clue, the future of American politics may look more like the 19th century than the 20th. We shall see.