What An Irish Phenotype and an Ivy League Education Will Buy You in 21st Century America

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Beto O’Roarke (Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia.)

I am not a frequent listener of talk radio, though I readily concede that conservative talk show commentator Rush Limbaugh frequently offers pungent and even prescient criticism of the American ruling class.

I was especially struck by a recent observation.

Speaking at the Trump rally in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Limbaugh observed that the hatred associated with the 45th president stems from boundless jealousy among our political class, haunted by the knowledge that not one of them — not Biden, not even the sainted Barack — can approximate the Trump’s star appeal.

Limbaugh’s observation was spot on, though I would argue that this observation, insightful as it is, doesn’t go deep enough.

The jealousy and enmity for Donald Trump run much deeper. And I’m convinced that this liberal disdain stems from a deep well of narcissism, which is reflected in the way that liberals — elite liberals, at least — both view themselves and their place within the American cultural and political context.

At the risk of oversimplifying the issue, I would even go as far to say that liberalism has always been less about ideals, more about perpetuating an image:  one in which the bold and elite-educated beautiful — the heirs of FDR, JFK and RFK —  are entitled by birth and intellect to be held in breathless veneration by the masses.

American liberalism has been bound up in this narrative for most of the past century.  It started with FDR, a handsome, polished scion of the American ruling class who, despite his physical infirmity, selflessly marshaled the slumbering masses toward a greater vision of themselves and the country.  But the young, telegenic Irish-American hero, John F. Kennedy, brought this narrative to the peak of refinement.  In fact, an aspiring professional historian could write a dissertation about how Kennedy’s assassination and subsequent martyrdom has driven this liberal narrative.

There has been a deep hunger among liberals ever since to find someone, some charismatic, Kennedyesque figure to modernize and carry forth this lofty narrative. A new movie scheduled for release on Nov. 21 explores the stellar rise and ignominious fall of the presumptive heir of JFK’s mantle, Gary Hart. But a string of other successful and unsuccessful Democratic contenders have also competed to fill this void: Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and John Edwards.  Once upon a time, a few people even compared Jimmy Carter to JFK.

That is why the recent political phenomenon of Betomania is very instructive.  Indeed, it’s not all that surprising that Beto O’Roarke, notwithstanding this week’s defeat, already is being touted as a hot Democratic presidential prospect in 2020. He underscores how far a tall, lean frame, an Irish phenotype, an Ivy League diploma, and a reasonably aristocratic pedigree will take you in modern America, of course, providing that you’re willing to subject yourself all the outrageous indignities and misfortunes of modern America politics.

O’Roarke, in fact, seems right out of central casting: a fourth-generation Irish American possessing an almost an uncanny physical resemblance to the late Robert F. Kennedy — a dynast from an old El Paso political family that can even point to modest links to the Kennedy clan.  Even better, he hails from the deepest reaches of red America in a region of the country likely on the verge of being flipped purple, if not  blue. And to top it off, he’s nicknamed Beto, which affords something akin to an ersatz Hispanic identity at a time when ethnic ties to rising demographic groups are at a premium.

Indeed, we’re likely to see many different permutations of Betomania in an era when liberalism, beset with disillusionment and division, seems more bereft of ideological substance than ever its history.  In such a context, form will always trump substance.

The changes in American elite education that have occurred over the last few decades will only contribute to this. Earlier American elites such as FDR and JFK arguably felt a sense of noblesse oblige, partly stemming from a sense of guilt that their status was largely unearned.  Way back then, elite universities on both sides of the Atlantic functioned as extensions of Eton, Harrow and Groton.  FDR, described as a man of “third class intellect but first-class temperament,” was typical of his class.

Yet, elite education has undergone a sea change in recently years, becoming far more meritocratic, far more SAT-driven.  And the people who pass through these elite institutions now fit a wholly different set of criteria, conforming very closely to the products described by William Dereciewicz in Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite.

Having clawed their way up to these to these stratospheric heights, they expect a payoff.  Even more than the old guilt-ridden WASP elites, they regard themselves as people worthy of deep respect, if not a healthy degree of adulation.  Many regard themselves as anointed by genetics to rule and to think on every else’s behalf.  And, oddly enough, this has only worked to reinforce the old elite liberal narrative.  Granted, many of them are not as poised and physically attractive as Roosevelts or Kennedys, but the old liberal elite narrative nonetheless resounds among them.

If you doubt this:  Consider what is unfolding even now in Silicon Valley as tech moguls arrogate to themselves the task of reengineering of a basic tenet of American liberty, free speech, simply on the basis that they have conceived something better.  Never mind the corpus of judicial rulings on free speech that have been handed down over the past quarter of a  millennium; they know better.

Simply put, the liberal narrative is undergoing significant revision, becoming even more virulently narcissistic as a new generation of meritocrats rise to assume the place of older elites.

Back to Trump.  He’s not one of them.  He openly mocks their pretensions to power.  Even worse, he even has inspired millions of ordinary Americans to turn their backs on them, the anointed, the heirs of this lofty narrative.

Small wonder why they hate him.

 

The Left’s Real Problem with the Senate

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senate-logoThe outcome of the 2018 mid-term elections, especially in terms of how it is reflected in the composition of the U.S. Senate, underscores the perennial wisdom of the Founders. But the left’s dissatisfaction with this outcome and its increasingly strident criticism of the “undemocratic” nature of this upper chamber demonstrates two things: its ravenous thirst for power and its growing awareness of its power, especially as it’s manifested in the most influential facets of American culture, namely academia, the Establishment media and the arts.

Two other important points must be mentioned: First, the Senate represents the essence of America union and nationhood, and there would not have been a United States without this indispensable compromise. Second, no other institution established by the Constitution better embodies the limited nature of our federated republic

Indeed, the compromise reflects one of the primary concerns of the Founders: to establish a federal republic with sharply delineated powers and scope, one that enabled the individual states to carry on with virtually all the attributes of nationhood.

To put it another way, the Senate was conceived as a sort of chamber of state ambassadors to serve as a counterweight to the larger popular chamber: the House of Representatives. Its purpose was to ensure that the United States remained what Madison called a “republic of republics,” a federation with sharply circumscribed powers that chiefly functioned to protect the states against against dissolution and the inevitable threats from the chief European maritime powers, Britain and France.

Through its increasingly harsh criticism of the Senate, the left is calling one of the most vital safeguards of the Constitution and our federal republic into question. And, of course, there is an ulterior motive driving this, because abolishing or, at least, radically altering the composition of  both the Senate and the Electoral College would confer the blue coastal regions of the United States with virtually unbridled power to dictate to the rest of the country.

This demonstrates one of the perennial challenges of large, extended federal republics such as ours: the specter of sectionalism, the desire of one part of a federation to dominate at the expense of the others.  It was one of the factors that led to the outbreak of the bloody Civil War.  And without the vigilance of present-day Americans, it could lead to a similar upheaval.

For more insight into all of this, I recommend a thorough reading of the writings of South Carolina statesman John C. Calhoun – that is, if you are able to wrangle a contraband copy of it.

The Implacable Left

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Leftist Protesters in Washington, D.C.  Photo Courtesy of James McNellis

A close friend just passed along this fascinating piece.

It takes me back to an exchange I had with an old Sigma Chi brother a few days ago. In a previous social media exchange with another Sig brother, I bemoaned the divisive trends unfolding in America and offered pretty much the same view outlined in this article: namely, that these divisions seem irreconcilable over the long term. The old fraternity brother, a D.C operative who has been burnishing his liberal credentials and virtue signaling skills for decades, weighed in to decry the breakdown of American civil discourse, harkening back to those halcyon days of political discourse the Sigma Chi House when all of us discussed politics freely and openly.

Here’s the interesting part: He followed these plaintive remarks with a litany of reasons why he deemed conservatism a threat to democracy, engaging in the usual right-wing stereotyping.

In other words, we’re not complying with HIS expectations. And that’s the part that really fascinates me about the modern left. As I’ve stated before, most hard leftists secretly pine to run this country like an old-style Eastern Bloc peoples democracy. They’re all for political opposition, but only so long as it conforms with basic leftist precepts.

The very same rhetoric is evident in this article: If the left doesn’t succeed in the mid-term elections, the country will have hell to pay. As the columnist stresses, major Hollywood events have now become a means of rallying Blue America and disparaging the values and leaders of its red counterpart.

That’s the part about the left I find simultaneously remarkable, maddening and TERRIFYING. They will be happy only when the rest of the country hews to their expectations – only when the right capitulates, in other words.

I’ve read too much history not to know where this is heading. And that is why I remain a fervent proponent of radical devolution and barring that, peaceful secession.

But, to be sure, the left is not going to let us go easily, I know that.

The Ruby-Reddening of Alabama: A Short History

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Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey. (Photo: Courtesy of the Alabama Republican Party.

Based on the results of the June 5th primary, Alabama continues to affirm its reputation as one of this nation’s reddest of red states.

Case in point: My native northwest Alabama county of Franklin. Based on my quick but possibly faulty math garnered from The New York Times’ election data, I noticed that some 4,500 voters participated in Franklin County’s GOP primary, while only around 600 participated in the Democratic one.

This is a remarkable turnaround from the early 80’s, when I was a young Franklin county voter and GOP poll worker. The first GOP primary was held in Alabama in 1978. Before then, a GOP state convention nominated candidates, who generally served as sacrificial lambs in the November general elections.

The only basis for excitement for Franklin County Republicans way back then was the presidential elections in which GOP presidential nominees were generally competitive. With the exception of 1976, when Jimmy Carter swept the South, Republican presidential nominees carried the state. Franklin County, a historically yellow dog Democratic county, generally proved no exception to this rule, though Democrats continued to dominate the down-ballot offices, as they did in mf the rest of the state.

Early GOP Forerunners

Even so, there were a few talented Republican outliers holding aloft the Republican banner in spite of all these daunting obstacles.

One especially memorable Republican insurgent was an unusually gifted and charismatic GOP forerunner named James Douglas Martin, a highly decorated WWII combat veteran.

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James Douglas Martin

He was one of a handful of Republicans who secured a seat in Congress during the Goldwater sweep in ’64. How? By positioning himself to the right of Alabama Democrats, which, needless to say, took some doing.

He even employed a phrase about “returning to the principles of ’61 – 1861,” which, needless to say, sounded like a veiled call for secession – certainly a statement laced with irony, considering that he was a candidate of the party of Lincoln.

Martin was an unusually gifted public speaker with a very polished and charismatic bearing that rivaled Reagan’s. I can vouch for that, having attended in the late 70’s a Reagan Rally at the Jefferson County Civic Center, featuring Martin as a warm-up speaker to Reagan.

One of Martin’s most memorable acts of chutzpah was running against the wildly popular Lurleen Wallace as the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee in 1966. It proved to be another ill-fated Republican attempt at storming what remained an all but impregnable Democratic electoral wall. He polled only 31 percent of the vote and carried only Greene County and the maverick and perennial Republican county of Winston, known as the Free State.

He made a last attempt at a statewide office in 1978 against a relatively liberal Alabama incumbent senator named Donald Stewart. His campaign slogan: “Alabama Needs Another Jim,” referring to the late conservative Democratic Senator Jim Allen.

Martin was defeated handily and suffered a severe heart attack shortly thereafter but recovered and lived to be almost 100.

Comparatively late in life, he was appointed director of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Several of my Cooperative Extension colleagues worked with him and described him as one of the most brilliant and dynamic people they ever encountered.

In a very real sense, Jim Martin was the John the Baptist of Alabama Republican politics, one who entered the political fray as a Republican about 20 years prematurely. If he he had been born a generation later, he not only would have secured high office but also would be remembered today as one of the most gifted and influential statesmen in Alabama history – of that I have little doubt.

The 1986 Breakthrough

Republican fortunes improved markedly after the election of 1986, when the Alabama Democratic Party was widely perceived among voters as stripping conservative Democrat Charlie Graddock of his gubernatorial nomination on highly specious grounds and handing it to party stalwart Bill Baxley. That was the first sign of fissures within what had been the indomitable Alabama Democratic Party.

The obscure 1986 GOP nominee, Amway salesman and former Cullman County Probate Judge Guy Hunt, was swept into office and subsequently won reelection in 1990.

Corruption charges forced Hunt out before the completion of his term and he was succeeded by Lt. Governor Jim Folsom, Jr., who was upset in the 1994 election by former conservative Democrat-turned-Republican Fob James.

James was defeated in 1998 by the Democratic nominee, then Lt. Gov. Don Siegelman, but this Democratic resurgence proved short-lived.

Siegelman was defeated by congressman Bob Riley in 2002. Less than a decade later, the GOP secured control of both houses of the Legislature in 2010, the first time in 136 years.

Today the Republicans dominate the Democrats by more than a 2-1 margin in the Alabama House of Re and by 5-1 in the Alabama Senate.

With the possible exception of Utah and Oklahoma, Alabama, once considered virtually synonymous with the Democratic Party, is now the ruby-reddest Republican of U.S. states.

MSM: American Pravda

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One can always count on the perspicacious Victor Davis Hanson to put the issues of the day into sharp perspective.

And he’s right as rain on this one: The MSM’s refusal to soldier on in its traditional role as nonpartisan muckraker is deeply troubling.

A Hanson observes, “High-tech corporations have acquired massive power and wealth, dwarfing the might of the robber barons of the past.” Yet, MSM seem to have abrogated their traditional role of investigating corporations whose influence threaten the very sinews of a free society.

Yet, this seems to reflect the wholesale decline of media standards in general.

I watched part of the Anderson Cooper’s Stormy interview and was deeply appalled and, yes, troubled. As Sean Hannity recently observed, it sounded like a Jerry Springer interview. It was simply red meat thrown to the MSM’s liberal base. And ponder, for a moment, the outrage that the left would have expressed if Fox News had employed the same voyeuristic treatment of one of Clinton’s detractors some 20 years ago.

Yes, right-wing media have their own problems with marching in ideological lockstep, but, honestly, MSM’s editorial practices are coming to bear a striking resemblance to Pravada’s in the last years of the Soviet Union – simply put, they seem to regard facts as true only so long as the right people (the accredited segments of society) say that they’re true.

Jefferson as Post-National Prophet

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The Jefferson Memorial (Photo: Courtesy of SamsonSimpson20)

A recent column in Vox explores the decline of dominant American identity and the ways that this identity could be rebuilt amid widespread demographic division and economic distress.

Ezra Klein, the author, contends that the vibrant, effusive American identity that prevailed throughout the 20th century was forged primarily on the basis of two world wars and the 70-year threat of Soviet communism.

I’m inclined to take a slightly different view. The modest imperial standing America acquired in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War formed a critical component of 20th century America identity too. Millions of Americans were carried on a wave of imperial euphoria, confident that the acquisition of a modest, backwater empire heralded our virtually unimpeded ascent to national greatness. And much of this was bound up in the war’s success in re-enlisting the defeated South in nation- and empire-building that followed in the aftermath of this war.

Up to that time, many people in the former Confederate states spent the Fourth of July commemorating the fall of Vicksburg rather than celebrating American Independence.

At the turn of century, some 35 years after one of the bloodiest struggles in history, the South reasoned that if it couldn’t have its own nation, it at least could participate in the building of a nation destined to ascend to the front ranks of global leadership.

This was a fortuitous turn of events for the American national enterprise: The post-Civil War South ended up supplying this nation not only with a significant share of its patriotic ballast but also a generous portion of men and women to guard the outposts of the global American empire that emerged after World War II.

Yet, we seem to be reaching an critical juncture, if not a major impasse, in defining American identity. And one wonders: How much practical value is derived from doubling down on one-nation rhetoric and insisting on more dialogue?

In the view of a growing number of heartland Americans, the only rhetoric deemed unifying by our ruling classes is that which conforms to the agenda of the left.

Moreover, another vital adhesive of American identity, centralized federalism, seems to be losing its efficacy too. Americans seem less inclined than ever to operate off the same page on issues that were once seen as vital to national security, such as regulating immigration and guarding our borders. Some on the left are even calling for the elimination of the Immigration and Customs Service (ICE).

Perhaps most disturbing of all, though, we seem to be rapidly approaching a cultural impasse that surprisingly few pundits have considered: namely, how this country will manage to soldier on when it is no longer regarded by ordinary Americans as standing at the pinnacle of the world’s most successful and exceptional nations.

So much of American unity and national identity is bound up with its perceived greatness and singularity.

A recent study ranked tiny Finland and several of the other Scandinavian countries as the world’s happiest, although the United States failed to rank in the top ten. Indeed, the results of the study point out a remarkable anomaly: Despite the United States possessing the world’s largest economy, millions of its citizens grapple with rising levels of obesity, substance abuse and high rates of depression, not unlike the problems that plagued the Soviet Union in the years leading up to its collapse.

Some on the left have expressed a desire to build a new national identity on the basis of socialism and identitarian politics, with the long-term goal of ridding the country of what they characterize as a historically evil and malignant white patrimony that has existed since the nation’s founding.

Given all these deep divisions over how to define the American enterprise in the future, perhaps we will return to some version of Thomas Jefferson’s 18th century vision of an American Empire: a continent of smaller states, either loosely tied or wholly independent of each other, sharing some degree of historical and cultural affinity.

Jefferson, it seems, may prove to a prophet of post-national American unity. At least, one can hope, amid all of this national division and rancor, that we can muster some semblance of mutual affinity and continental unity.

Whatever the case, a socialist, identitarian America should hold no appeal for any decent person, irrespective of race or ethnicity, who cherishes ordered liberty and constitutional government.

But if, God forbid, such an America emerges in the next 30 years, I suppose I’ll be one of those passing my autumn and winter years in a socialist gulag, at least, deriving a measure of solace that I will be living among what remains of sane people in America.

The Limits of Identitarianism

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Photo: Courtesy of Pax Ahimsa Gethen.

I have consumed a lot of  blog space lately discussing the horrifying totalitarian undertones of identitarian politics.  And I’m surprised by the increasing number of left-of-center news outlets that have been cornered into confronting the implications of this ideology.

One of the more prominent ones, The Guardian, recently served up a reasonably balanced exploration of this topic.

What many ordinary Americans simply do NOT get  – yet, at least – is that the expansion of identity politics virtually assures the end of the civil society that has held this uniquely American experiment in self-government together for roughly the last quarter millennium. (Read Alexis de Tocqueville’sDemocracy in America” for more details.)

The left has predictably hoisted itself on its own petard. It’s one thing to talk about equality under the law – to express a wish to be assimilated into the broader American matrix, which was Martin Luther King’s officially expressed view. But when exclusivist rhetoric, reflected in the demonization of other groups as a means of refining and enhancing identity, becomes the quasi-official policy of a major political party and the orthodoxy of the predominant culture – well, you can rest virtually assured that things are going to take a very ugly turn.

We are approaching a point similar to the post-WWI abandonment of the Hapsburg monarchy, the symbolic adhesive that kept sundry tribes at peace among each other within the bounds of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.  And this has brought us to a crossroads.  We either undertake a systemic reform of the American federal system to reflect the new realities in this country – namely, the deep cultural, political and ethnic divisions that threaten to sunder us apart – or we prepare ourselves for a new centralized and increasingly authoritarian order aimed a keeping these highly fissiparous tendencies in check.

Yet, as history has demonstrated time and again, the second option ultimately runs against the grain of human nature.  It will only engender more tribal animosities, which will spark calls on the left for more educational efforts, coupled with more subdued (or, as the case may be in the future, overt) forms of authoritarianism to redress these increasing divisions.

Reflecting on all of this, I recall an observation posited some 35 years ago by one of my graduate school professors, a self-described Marxisant.  As he observed, federal policymakers and jurists in the mid-1960’s operated on the premise that while they could never alter the hearts and minds of racists, they could legislate changes in overt behavior.

We seem to have moved a long way past this.  Our ruling class seems to think with with a doubling down of cultural warfare and federal policy we can still finesse this – we can still make it work.  Even in the face of rankly exclusivist ideology, we can somehow still manage to inculcate future generations of Americans, particularly whites, with new hearts and minds.

We’ve been down this road before.  We appear to be confronted with a zealotry that bears more than a passing resemblance to the one that gave rise to efforts toward building Home Sovieticus.

In the end, though, this whole project is inimical to human freedom, at least, as freedom historically has been understood within the Anglo-American context. And it runs against the very grain of human nature.  And one must remember that rank-and-file Soviet citizens came to regard efforts to build new Soviet man with profound cynicism and contempt.  Sooner or later, likely sooner, will prove to the the case here in America, too – of that I have no doubt.

 

Remembering an Academic Outlier

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Melvin E. Bradford. Photo: Courtesy of the Fort Worth Independent School District.

Something got me thinking last night about  one of the nation’s late, great academic outliers and mavericks, the late M.E. Bradford, and how, if he had survived into his 80’s, would be regarded today as a pariah on most U.S. college campuses. Bradford was regarded as a “paleoconservative,” one of the leading intellectual lights of the paleocon movement.

 

He was a student of the old Southern Agrarian tradition and a vocal and intrepid defender of the Constitution and the Old Republic.  He was also a searing critic of the legacy of Abraham Lincoln and the 16th president’s efforts to consolidate the American Republic. And while in intellectual terms he was considered an outlier, Bradford was one of a number of traditionalist conservative academics who, once upon a time in America, were valued for the role they served in leavening and balancing out academic discourse. He taught at several prestigious academic institutions, including the U.S. Naval Academy, and served as president of the Philadelphia Society.

 

I cherish two of Bradford’s works – “Remembering Who We Are” and “Original Intentions: On the Making of the Constitution – for providing me with critical foundational bricks in my intellectual development and maturation.

 

A vocal Reagan supporter in the 80’s, Bradford was tapped to head the National Endowment for the Humanities. However, due to fierce opposition from neoconservative elements, he ultimately was passed over for William Bennett, the neocons’ candidate, but not before receiving the endorsement of U.S. Senators from every geographic region of the country as well as by a number of prominent leading conservative intellectuals, including Russell Kirk, Jeffrey Hart, William F. Buckley and Harry Jaffa.

 
Bradford’s ignominious upending by the necons played a key role in deepening the already palpable ideological divide between paleocons and neocons intellectuals within the Reagan coalition that culminated in Pat Buchanan’s insurgent presidential candidacy against George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Bradford died while undergoing heart surgery at the relatively young age of 58 in 1993.  In a sense, he is fortunate not to have lived into his eighties to reflect on the intellectual wasteland that characterizes American academia today.

 

It’s one thing to be an outlier, quite another to be a pariah, which is precisely the way Bradford would be regarded today in America’s toxic academic environment. And this is remarkable considering that scarcely a generation ago, academic mavericks and nonconformists such as Bradford were still afforded a place, even an exalted place, in many American institutions of higher learning, valued for the role they served in refining intellectual inquiry and open discourse.

Reaping a Cultural Whirlwind

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Protester opposing “Trump/Pence Regime” in Portland. Photo: Courtesy of “Old White Truck.”

I’ve been something of a conservative cultural warrior for the last 30 years, albeit a weary and, at times, a very reluctant one.  For a long time, I essentially had thrown in the towel, happy to leave the struggle to younger warriors infused with a bit more zeal and encumbered with far less cynicism.

Hillary’s “basket of deplorables” comment galvanized me.  It reached deep into my psyche and activated some primordial something in me.  I resolved that, armed with my modest financial resources and meager rhetorical skills, I would fight to my dying breath the authoritarian social order that these reckless comments portended.

Actually, I saw where this was heading a long time ago.  A generation ago, I wrote extensively about the controversy over the Confederate flag.  As far back as the 1990’s, I and many others perceived that the left’s rage – or feigned rage – over Confederate symbolism ultimately would lead to an assault of the wider subject of American symbolism and ideals.  In the left’s view, after all, American symbols and ideas are, in moral terms, little removed from the patrimonial, slavocratic Confederacy.

Reflecting back on all of this, I’m reminded of what a prophet the late University of Georgia historian Eugene Genovese has proven to be.

Genovese predicted that in the course of the left’s sowing the wind, the entire nation would ultimately reap the whirlwind.  American society, he feared, ultimately would pay a price, perhaps an egregiously high price, for robbing white, predominantly working-class Southerners of their heritage and, in effect, rubbing their noses in the dirt.

Yes, I know,  a  legitimate argument can be made for eliminating government-sanctioned displays of the Battle Flag, which has all but been achieved within the last few years.  But there’s a difference between creating accommodating public spaces and asserting that Southerners who evince devotion to Confederate symbolism and the Lost Cause are little removed from reactionary racist pond scum.

There comes at point at which the quest for fairness degenerates into hitting below the below the belt.  The Obama administration’s twilight decision to remove displays of Confederate flags on fixed poles from National Cemeteries, even where Confederate veterans are buried and despite a previous decision by Congress not to impose this ban, was a malicious parting shot – a punch below the belt – by an administration sworn to “fundamentally transforming” America.

As Genovese predicted a generation ago, this denigration has only worked to augment the increasing sense of alienation among working-class whites.  They’ve grown weariy of being depicted as this nation’s problem demographic, especially considering that they have borne a disproportionate share of this nation’s imperial burdens, having filled enlisted ranks in every American military outpost in the world.

This sense of alienation will only intensify in the future.   The left has won the cultural war, but as Rod Dreher observes in a recent column, conservatism wields enormous political power and its adherents are still capable of marshaling a helluva lot of obstinance.

And there are lots of mad, obstinate people out there. Dreher cites the growing numbers of white Americans increasingly drawn to white nationalist rhetoric. He quotes extensively from a self-described well educated white intellectual who confesses to being both repelled and attracted to white nationalist rhetoric.

I’m a white guy. I’m a well-educated intellectual who enjoys small arthouse movies, coffehouses and classic blues. If you didn’t know any better, you’d probably mistake me for a lefty urban hipster.

And yet. I find some of the alt-right stuff exerts a pull even on me. Even though I’m smart and informed enough to see through it. It’s seductive because I am not a person with any power or privilege, and yet I am constantly bombarded with messages telling me that I’m a cancer, I’m a problem, everything is my fault.

 

For me, the CNN town meeting about gun violence – all the shouts of “Murderer!” and “Burn her!” – really put all of this into deep perspective.   I suspect it did for a lot of Americans.  I think it underscored to millions of us that a kind of Rubicon has been crossed and that the divisions in this country are only going to grow worse.

Frankly, I am surprised that the soft secessionist sentiment is largely confined to California and isn’t yet being expressed widely in red states. I think this a reflection of two factors: first, the conviction among blue-state “progressives” that they are now the dominant cultural force in America and that such talk is acceptable, so long it’s aimed at affirming and reinforcing progressive dogma; and, second, a stubborn perception among conservatives in red states that all eventually will be worked out – that America remains a singular nation and that we all will finally return to our senses.

In time, though, I think that many red state Americans will conclude that things in this country will become even more untethered – unstuffed, as the case may be – and that some form of devolution, perhaps even some desperate attempt at secession, ultimately may point the way out of this impasse.

And recall that Dreher, the creator of the Benedict Option, is a separatist of sorts.

A generation ago, I wrote extensively about how the South represented the most fertile soil from which a counterrevolution could be mounted. While my this conviction has wavered a bit in recent years, I still suspect that sooner or later, as these national divisions intensify, that the counterrevolutionary struggle will coalesce in the South.

Whatever the case, I think that conservatives should forget about cultural warfare.  Dreher is right to stress that the cultural war has ended with a resounding victory by the left. Our energies at this point should be invested in a devolutionary movement – or movements – not in fighting a rearguard cultural war, which has been irretrievably losts, at least, for the foreseeable future.

Exposing the Paddy Caligula Clan – Finally

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Hollywood will release Chappaquiddick, a movie Chronicling the sordid behavior of Massachusetts Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy, next month.

It’s long overdue.  The movie will only underscore why I and millions of other conservatives around the country harbor such as deep loathing for our liberal ruling class.

Think about this for a moment: Following the incident on the bridge, Paddy Caligula IV (following in the footsteps of Joe, Jack and Bob), “walked back to his motel, complained to the manager about a noisy party, took a shower, went to sleep, ordered newspapers when he woke up and spoke to a friend and two lawyers before finally calling the police.

As it turned out, Mary Jo Kopechne survived for hours due to an air pocked in the car and then presumably died of slow asphyxiation. If he had called for help immediately after the incident, she conceivably would still be alive today.

Yet, thanks to a combination of three things – Kennedy money, media complicity and the herd mentality among the rank-and-file left – Lascivious Ted lived out his life as the apotheosis of American progressive liberalism. He was lionized not only as the heir of Camelot but even posed a serious intra-party challenge to incumbent President Jimmy Carter in 1980.

Yes, his sexual predation apparently rivaled that of the notorious Harvey Weinstein, who inspired the #MeToo movement.  In fact, Kennedy’s lechery even exceeded his older siblings and his father, which is saying a lot.

And yet, the enlightened progressive voters of the Bay State overlooked all of this time and again.  A time or two in my life, I’ve been subjected to ribbing for coming from a state that idolized the likes of George Wallace and that even carried this adulation over to his ill-fated wife, Lurleen. Yet, it seems to have paled in comparison to the Kennedy cult of Massachusetts.

To be sure, there are certainly some very bad apples in conservative/Republican ranks, but I really would contend that they simply can’t get away with as much.

Honestly, if Ronald Reagan or one of the Bush siblings had run a woman off a bridge and waited hours to inform police, they not only would have been indicted but also would have faced utterly derailed political careers.

They would not be lionized to the ends of their lives as paragons of conservative virtue.

Under the circumstances, isn’t it just a little easier to grasp the rage that Richard Nixon, American political history’s classic underdog, felt for the Kennedy siblings – all of whom essentially were entitled, spoiled brats who carried on the philandering, exploitative lifestyle of their father, Bootleggin’ Joe?