Jimmy Carter Revealed: Rockefeller Republican

I have argued in the past that a convincing case can be made that Trump is essentially a neo-Nixonian, i.e. a Rockefeller Republican with a faux right-wing populist gloss. I would also argue that Biden is essentially a Rockefeller Republican as well, albeit one who is formally a Democrat.  Check out this old article from The Atlantic in 1977 and notice the similarities between Carter and Biden.

In the postwar era, both US parties represented different factions of the traditional northeastern capitalist class that had descended from the elite bourgeois families of the industrial revolution and the older banking dynasties from the colonial era. The Rockefellers were among the most prominent of these elite families and had their hands in both parties. Nelson in the Republicans, and Jay and David in the Democrats. Henry Kissinger was the international relations advisor to the Rockefeller Republicans (like Nixon and Gerald Ford) and Zbig B was the international relations advisor to the Rockefeller Democrats (like Carter).

The Buckleyite-Goldwaterite-Reaganite-Friedmanite-Neocon coalition that emerged in the period between the 1960s and 1980s under the banner of “movement conservatism” represented an insurgency by the Sunbelt industries throughout the South, Midwest, Southwest, and West against the traditionally dominant wing of the capitalist class in the Northeast.  Meanwhile, the liberal opposition was led by another member of the Northeastern elite, Ted Kennedy, and prairie populists like George McGovern, a role filled today by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren (who hold Kennedy’s old Senate seat), and the “Squad” types.

It appears that Bidenism is largely a counter-attack against both “movement conservatism” and Trumpian populism by the traditional northeastern elite and Kennedyesque liberals, only this time around in collusion with the sector of the “newly rich” derived from the digital capitalist revolution and the professional-managerial class, which is an expanded version of the “new class” insurgency within the managerial elite that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, and which has replaced the “post-bourgeois proletariat” of industrial workers and/or the petite bourgeois as the dominant sector of the middle class.

By Christopher Lydon, The Atlantic (July 1977)

It has dawned on the liberals of his party that Jimmy Carter is not entirely one of them. Some people knew that all along—David Rockefeller, for instance, who now has a friend at the White House. In the following pages, a political reporter inquires into Carter’s ideological loyalties, and an economic columnist explores the importance of Carter’s ”Trilateral Connection.”

It sounds too simple, I grant you, but just for the sake of argument, try thinking of Jimmy Carter as a Rockefeller Republican. It is hardly more simplistic than “populist,” “New South,” “evangeli­cal,” and sundry other handles that have been tried out on Carter; it fits more snugly than any of the others do, and for me it’s held firm for more than a year now.

No, alas, this is not an argument that David Rocke­feller first invented Jimmy Carter around 1971, arranged for Zbigniew Brzezinski to train him in global politics, and then rigged his nomination and election. Nor do I believe what some Reaganites have suggested: that a piqued Nelson Rockefeller—dumped from the Republican ticket in favor of Senator Bob Dole, a Reagan designee—contrived last fall to make Jimmy Carter the vessel of his revenge on the GOP. On the contrary, I observe here the ban on conspiracy theories in mainstream American journalism and political discussion. So unfashionable are conspiracy theories that if indeed a photograph had been pre­served from 1973 or 1974 of the several American members and aides of David Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission—such men as Richard Holbrooke, now an assistant secretary of state; Warren Christopher, the undersecretary of state; their immediate superior, Cyrus Vance (who had been, among other things, chairman of the trustees of the Rockefeller Founda­tion); Treasury Secretary Michael Blumenthal; De­fense Secretary Harold Brown; National Security Council Director Brzezinski and the NSC’s analyst of Soviet intentions, Samuel P. Huntington; also then senator, now Vice President, Walter F. Mondale; and a formerly obscure but promising Georgia governor, now President, Jimmy Carter—if, as I say fancifully, some indisputable record had been preserved from three or four years ago of these men signing blood oaths to remember and honor their fellowship if and when one of them came to power, most editors, commentators, and indeed politicians would have clucked disparagingly that only nuts think power works that way in America. Maybe they are right. In any event we will not get into conspiracy theories here, or into any diagram of power mechanics that might suggest a literal explanation of Carter’s rise. This is more nearly a game of categories, a parlor exercise in thinking about who Jimmy Carter is and where, metaphorically, he came from.


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