Perhaps it began with McCarthyism, Ayn Rand, and the John Birch Society reaction against Communism, the New Deal, and the Great Society. Of course it began with the birth of Empire America after World War Two. But I agree with Cedrick Smith’s book “Who Stole the American Dream” that the Powell memo of 1971 (and the Nixon administration) instituted and planted the seeds of reaction to the Civil Rights movement and the peace movement against the Vietnam War. The birth of monetarism economics eclipsing Keynesianism is also an important part of the story. The first step was the rise of right wing institutes in the seventies like ALEC, CATO, and Heritage to rationalize the domination of the ruling class over the middle class. This and the socioeconomic nature of a high military spending society pushed America into more of a medieval and Third World society, away from democracy and towards dictatorship. Of course the 1947 National Security Act begins the empire society gradually leading to the rise of Ronald Reagan. But the crucial step in this long transformation is the 1981 Reagan tax cut. This 60% cut in the top income tax rate directly stops social mobility, freezing the middle class out of future income gains and locking in ever increasing income inequality and the current lack of social mobility. America has traded places with Europe becoming a class based society abandoning the Horatio Alger tradition. The dominoes of empire just keep falling into place with the rise of the Newt Gingrich Republican congress of 1995. The last time the congress produced a regular budget with 12 appropriations bills was 1994. Now spending is passed in omnibus bills for short periods of time less than a year, so leadership controlled that the dysfunctional congress is increasingly over time more dictatorial and less democratic. Reagan’s repeal in 1987 of the “equal time” provisions for political discourse in the mass media lead directly to right wing radio like Rush Limbaugh and right wing television like Fox News in 1996. Clinton’s 1999 repeal of the 1938 Glass-Steagall bill separating banking from investment banking leads directly to the Great Recession of 2008-2009 nine years later with a tenfold increase in derivatives without government oversight. Frank Luntz, Newt Gingrich, and twelve leading House and Senate Republicans met to block all Obama legislation, including emergency economic bailouts while the economy was losing 750,000 jobs per month, in a decision reached 1-20-09 the night of Obama’s inauguration. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader implemented that policy then, and later in blocked Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland immediately one hour after the death of Anthony Scalia February 13, 2018. Such extremism was later matched by Trump’s attempted appeal of everything Obama, including health care. Clearly there has been an unbelievable escalation of obstructionism since 1971. Jimmy Carter and a Princeton study have recognized this rise of oligarchy at the expense of democracy. The activist reactionary Supreme Court, conservative since 1972, has gone radical right since choosing a president in the Bush v Gore case of December 12, 2000. It repealed election finance laws in Citizens United 2010, and destroyed a forty year precedent in labor relations in 2018 and refused to reverse an absurd reapportionment in Wisconsin this year.
Reuschlein’s Theory of Empire
There is no greater power than the power to take one’s life away. Hence military power represents a widescale application of such power. Presidents with wars attached to them tend to be our highest ranked presidents, hence winning war is usually rewarded handsomely on the president’s biography and historical review. Wars are very expensive, hence great political power is exerted doling out the money. High military spending states dominate the leadership in congress, the cabinet, and the presidency. Judging by the Roman Empire and modern experience, there is a strong tendency to become less democratic and more autocratic the longer an empire exists. In Rome the movement was from republic to emperor. In America the movement of power is from congress to the executive, and in congress from committees to leadership. Politics moves from flexible to rigid. Too many people view these trends as inevitable, when in fact levels of military funding can be shown over and over again as the prime forcing agent in things like deindustrialization, low economic growth, inequality, crime, rigidity in polirics, poor health outcomes, and lack of social mobility. Spiritual decay is usually a result, not a cause, of empire decline. Complacency is also a result, not a cause of decline. Corruption increases in high military spending states, hence the worst mortgage abuses leading up to the Great Recession were in high military spending states like California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, and Connecticut.
The total victory concept of the world wars gradually over time became embedded by America’s most military oriented political party. Among low information voters this party stood for many American values that it did not follow. Among the endless hypocrisies and lies were notions of support for the constitution, small business, and local government. The term fake news was invented to justify contradictions that were in fact lies. More government and more debt were justified by more lies. Lack of job creation in 2017 compared to the last six years before was justified by ever lowering unemployment rates as part of a long trend started by a predecessor. Hoover tariff strategy that gave us the Great Depression were championed as good bargaining. Draining the swamp was shown to be a hollow slogan as the president made deals to benefit himself and his family at the expense of foreign policy, and his cabinet followed his own corrupt lead. Putin criticism was put off limits to maintain his ties to his benefactor. American institutions like the press, FBI and justice were disregarded when inconvenient or worse, vilified.
The rise of Trump represents the lack of all compromise with the left and the lack of any pretense about what motivates the new media created right wing mentality. A nation of laws has been replaced with a cult of personality with endless attacks on all enemies. Trump admires dictators and belittles democracies, just like an emperor.
How the principles of empire affect us all:
Please cite this work as follows:
Reuschlein, Robert. (2018, July 8), “How Right Wing Changed USA”, Madison, WI: Real Economy Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.expertclick.com/NewsRelease/How-Right-Wing-Changed-USA,2018159439.aspx
Dr. Peace, Professor Robert Reuschlein, Real Economy Institute
Nominated Vetted for 2016, Given Odds for 2017 Nobel Peace Prize