Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Election 2016: Back to the 1970s?

If the Trump and Sanders movements become a permanent fixture of US politics, the real effect of this will be to repeal the Reagan Revolution and bring American politics back to what it was in the 1970s, and with relatively similar political, economic, and social circumstances (minus the Cold War obviously). The neocons and Conservatism, Inc know this and that’s why they’re fighting so hard against Trump. If you take the neo-Reaganites out of the picture, what you have is a mirror image of the political factions we had in the 70s: Hillary=Nixon, Trump=Rockefeller, Sanders=New Deal Democrat, Johnson=liberal Republican, Stein=progressive liberal, Alt Right=George Wallace, SJWs=lunatic campus Maoists, with the now marginalized “conservatives” being Barry Goldwater, the religious right being Billy James Hargis, and the neocons being Scoop Jackson.

Like Rockefeller (whom I suspect was his role model), he’s a New York billionaire plutocrat with a mixture of progressive and conservative views (to the degree that he has any consistent positions) and he doesn’t worry about conventional niceties (remember when Nelson Rockefeller flipped a heckler the bird on national television?), but he uses a lot of the tough guy conservative populist rhetoric of Wallace, Buchanan, and Agnew that appeals to the kind of constituency he wants to court, i.e. southern rednecks, northeastern white ethnics, Rust Belt blue collar workers, etc. though I suspect that part of his persona is mostly a put on.

I suspect that electing either Trump or Hillary will be about like reelecting Bill Clinton. Literally, in the case of Hillary, and de facto in the case of Trump. And Bill Clinton more or less governed the way a Rockefeller Republican would have anyway.

Nixon was also from the Rockefeller wing of the GOP, but as a Californian he courted the Sun Belt insurgency for which the “conservative movement” was a front, and he also rhetorically appealed to the populist right like Trump is doing, i.e. the ‘silent majority,” hardhats, Wallace fans, picking Agnew as his running mate, etc.

This is a good analogy: Imagine it is1976 rather than 2016, and Nelson Rockefeller is running for President trying to court the right-wing populist constituency of Nixon, Agnew, Wallace, Frank Rizzo, etc and you get a good idea of what Trump really represents.

If anything, Hillary Clinton is to the right of Nixon on economics, and possibly foreign policy as well. As sorry as Nixon was on the Vietnam War and the invasion of Cambodia, he at least pursued the China opening and detente with the USSR. I suspect it’s quite possible Hillary will listen to neocons whispering in her ear and attack Iran or escalate the war in Syria, and take an increasingly provocative stance towards Russia and China. Nixon even toyed with the idea of a UBI (inspired by Milton Friedman’s idea of the negative income tax). Let’s just see if Hillary gives any thought to that! They’re also probably about the same in their commitment to building the police state and using the federal bureaucracy to go after personal enemies.

This is an interesting observation from leftist “anti-fascist” Matthew Lyons: “Imagine a president who expands affirmative action, actively promotes school desegregation, enacts important new laws in social welfare, environmental protection, occupational health and safety, and consumer protection, supports comprehensive health insurance and a system of guaranteed income for all citizens, and whose Justice Department opposes the RICO Act on the grounds that it gives the government powers that are much too broad and sweeping for prosecuting criminals. In 2011, such a president would be considered far to left of Barack Obama and far to the left of almost everyone in Congress. Forty years ago, such a president was called Richard Nixon. ”…/right-wing-101/

The difference is that the culture has shifted far to the left since the 1970s to the point that an African-American president and a woman who personifies 70s feminism can at the same time pursue policies comparable to Nixon in the areas of foreign policy, economics, trade, law, state repression, etc. Obama/Hillary=Nixon + gay marriage and trannies in the ladies room.

There was a lot of economic desperation in the 1970s as well with the OPEC embargo and gas rationing during the Nixon years, and then another gas crisis in the during Carter period. High inflation and high interest rates were a big issue back then as well. The state of the economy really killed Carter’s reelection bid in 1980. Remember those “WIN’ (Whip Inflation Now) lapel pins they used to hand out back during the Gerald Ford period? I do think things are worse now with the deindustrialization of the US, housing costs, and the conversion to a service industry economy, the widest disparity in wealth distribution in 100 years.

The important thing to remember about the Reagan Revolution is that it’s only effect was to halt the drift to the left that had occurred in the 1960s and 1970s on foreign policy and economics, escalate the police state build up that occurred under Nixon and Rockefeller’s drug war, and facilitate the neoliberal counterattack against the gains made by the working class during the post war period. Reagan himself did not govern any further to the right than JFK likely would have. George HW Bush was a literally a Rockefeller Republican and Clinton was a Rockefeller Republican in all but name. George W Bush was pretty much a reincarnation of LBJ, and Obama/Hillary=Nixon. What’s happening right now with Trump knocking the “movement conservatives” (descendants of Buckley and Goldwater) and the neocons (state department socialists) to the sidelines and the rise of the Sanders movement is that the clock is now being turned back to the 70s in most practical ways with the difference being that the culture has drifted much further left since then and the Cold War has been replaced with the War on Terrorism.


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