Who was Ronald Reagan? And what was the Reagan Revolution?

When Reagan was a Democrat, he was a union leader, socially liberal Hollywood actor, starry-eyed liberal progressive, anti-communist, pro-capitalist, ultra-nationalist, big-spending FDR New Deal supporter, big government public welfare state promoter, and patriotic cold warrior.

And then when Reagan became a Republican, he instead was a union opponent (although still able to get labor union support to get elected), socially liberal political actor, starry-eyed neoliberal progressive, anti-communist, pro-capitalist, ultra-nationalist, big-spending permanent debt-creating militarist, big government corporate welfare state promoter, and patriotic cold warrior.

Nothing fundamentally changed about Reagan, as he admitted. He liked to say that the Democratic Party left him. This is in a sense true as Democrats turned away from their racist past. Other things were involved as well.

I’d say that his shifting attitude about the New Deal welfare state was more situational, as many white Americans were less willing to support a welfare state after the Civil Rights movement because it meant blacks would have equal access to those public benefits. Reagan probably was always a racist, but it remained hidden behind progressivism until black rights forced it out into the open. Even his union views were more of a situational change, rather than an ideological change, for the Cold War reframed many issues.

The combination of Civil Rights movement and Cold War were a powerful force, the latter helping to make the former possible. The Cold War was a propaganda war. To prove democracy was genuinely better, the US government suddenly felt the pressure to live up to its own rhetoric about civil rights. Black activists pushed this to their advantage, and many whites in response went from liberalism to conservatism. This created a strange form of conservatism that was dominated by former progressives turned reactionary, which in some ways just meant a reactionary progressivism that hid behind conservative rhetoric.

This is how Reagan went from a standard progressive liberal to the ideal personification of reactionary conservatism. Yet he did this while politically remaining basically the same. Reagan didn’t change. The world around him changed. There was a society-wide political realignment that went beyond any individual person.

Still, it wasn’t just a party realignment with the old racist Southern Democrats switching loyalties to the Republicans. There was that, but also more than that. Many old school Democrats, even those outside of the South, changed party identification and voting patterns. Prior to the shift, many Republicans would praise liberalism (from Eisenhower to Nixon) and there was room for a left-wing within the party itself. After the switch, all of that was replaced by a mix of neoliberalism and neoconservatism, an alliance between economic libertarians and war hawks. So-called conservatism became a radical and revolutionary force of globalization.

The deeper shift involved not just to the political spectrum but the entire political framework and foundation. Everything shifted and became redefined, as if an earthquake had rearranged the geography of the country to such an extent that the old maps no longer matched reality.

One major change is that the noblesse oblige paternalism of the likes of the Roosevelts (TR and FDR) simply disappeared from mainstream politics, like Atlantis sinking below the waves never to be seen or heard from again. Politics became  unmoored from the past. Conservatism went full reactionary, leaving behind any trace of Old World traditionalism. Meanwhile, liberals became weak-minded centrists who have since then always been on the defense and leftists, as far as the mainstream was concerned, became near non-entities whose only use was for occasional resurrection as scapegoats (even then only as straw man scapegoats).

Two world wars had turned the Western world on its head. Following that mass destruction, the Cold War warped the collective psyche, especially in America. It’s as if someone took a baseball bat to Uncle Sam’s head and now he forever sees the world cross-eyed and with a few lost IQ points.

As with Reagan, nothing changed and yet everything changed. The Reagan Revolution was greater than just Reagan.

* * * *


He may be the patron saint of limited government, but Ronald Reagan started out as a registered Democrat and New Deal supporter. An F.D.R. fan, the Gipper campaigned for Helen Gahagan Douglas in her fruitless 1950 Senate race against Richard Nixon and encouraged Dwight D. Eisenhower to run for President as a Democrat in 1952. While he was working as a spokesman for General Electric, however, his views shifted right. “Under the tousled boyish haircut,” he wrote Vice President Nixon of John F. Kennedy in 1960, “is still old Karl Marx.” By the time it actually happened in 1962, Reagan’s decision to cross over to the GOP didn’t come as much of a surprise. “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party,” he famously said. “The party left me.”


Giller said Reagan endorsed the presidential candidacies of Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956 as well as that of Nixon in 1960 “while remaining a Democrat.” [ . . . ]

Historian Edward Yager, a government professor at Western Kentucky University and author of the 2006 biography Ronald Reagan’s Journey: Democrat to Republican, said Reagan “was registered Democrat from the time that he voted for FDR in 1932, when he was 21.”

Yager said he’s never seen copies of the voter registration cards, but noted “virtually all the sources that refer to” Reagan’s party affiliation indicate that he was registered as a Democrat and that “he has two autobiographies in which he refers to his voting for FDR four times, then for Truman.” Reagan was a Democrat, added Yager, even when he voted for Dwight D. Eisenhower.


Interestingly, Ronald Reagan himself did not always espouse the firm anti-government beliefs that eventually came to define Reaganism. As a young man, Reagan was actually a Roosevelt Democrat. The Reagan family only survived the Great Depression because Jack Reagan, young Ronnie’s unemployed father, was able to find a job in one of the New Deal’s work-relief programs. A few years later, Ronald Reagan found himself admiring Roosevelt’s leadership of America’s World War II effort to defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. (Reagan joined the military but performed his wartime service in Hollywood, acting in American propaganda films.)


Reagan was a New Deal Democrat. He joked that he had probably become a Democrat by birth, given that his father, Jack, was so devoted to the Democratic Party. The younger Reagan cast his first presidential vote in 1932 for Franklin Roosevelt, and did so again in the succeeding three presidential contests. His faith in FDR remained undimmed even after World War II, when he called himself “a New Dealer to the core.” He summarized his views in this way: “I thought government could solve all our postwar problems just as it had ended the Depression and won the war. I didn’t trust big business. I thought government, not private companies, should own our big public utilities; if there wasn’t enough housing to shelter the American people, I thought government should build it; if we needed better medical care, the answer was socialized medicine.” When his brother, Moon, became a Republican and argued with his sibling, the younger Reagan concluded “he was just spouting Republican propaganda.”













50 thoughts on “Who was Ronald Reagan? And what was the Reagan Revolution?

  1. Ha. I FINALLY saw back to the future last night, where 1955 Doc didn’t believe Marty when he said Reagan was president in 1985 :p That and I couldn’t stop laughing at the eightiesness of the movie

    • Ah, a great movie, a classic.

      You’re talking about my childhood in the eighties. I was ten years old when Back to the Future came out. It was around that time or maybe a little before that when I saw Reagan in person. I was in cub scouts and my troop sat on the front row while Reagan gave a speech.

      Experiencing the Reagan administration and the Cold War from a child’s perspective is a bit different than those who experienced them as adults. I saw much of it through the lense of entertainment media, mostly movies. My personal sense of the Cold War is filtered through Vietnam War movies, Rambo movies, the original Red Dawn, and of course Back to the Future. That gives me a somewhat warped view of that time period.

      The eighties probably was more enjoyable as a child than as an adult. It was a good time of life for me. It seems to me that my generation was fortunate in one respect. We were the last generation to have a normal childhood, from newspaper routes to playing unsupervised. As a little kid, I had the freedom to roam freely all over town and my parents didn’t worry. Generation X was one of the least parentally supervised generations of the 20th century, second only to the Lost Generation.

      A clear shift happened sometime in the 1990s and even more strongly in the 2000s. There always was the Cold War paranoia, which was waning during my childhood. But then something kicked the paranoia into full gear, even before the War on Terror. Kids these days have absolutely no freedom. It seems sad to me.

      By the way, Michael J. Fox is probably the one actor that defined the eighties more than any other, at least from my childhood perspective. He did many movies during that decade. Teen Wolf was another great eighties movie. Then there was his greatest role of all time as Alex P. Keaton in the tv show Family Ties. He played a young conservative being raised by old hippy parents. I’ve heard that Reagan loved that character and it was one of his favorite shows.

      I wrote a nice long post about the eighties some years back.


      It was an interesting decade and less bleak than the 70s. All hell broke loose in the late 60s and early 70s, a low point of despair for the entire country.

      You have to understand that Americans weren’t in their right mind when they elected Reagan. They just wanted someone to lie to them and tell them that everything was going to be fine. As B movie actor, Reagan was the right man for the job. He could put on a convincing smile and tell a joke. He reminded Americans of a simpler time before everything got so fucked up, but sadly that just allowed everything to get more fucked up.

      • Indeed a classic. I may have time to watch the sequels tomorrow, where the hover-boards actually show up considering I’m snowed in with cancelled classes to boot, LOL. In the meanwhile thought maybe I should get cross country skis to travel around, LOL. Right now it’s breaking the law to be out on wheels/bike/cars… hey, loopholes. There ain’t no wheels on them skis.

        I enjoyed that post, thanks. I obviously didn’t exist in the eighties and was a bit young to get into the dramas of the nineties(not so gifted indeed, LOL.) I’m aware of the ‘culture wars’ drama of the nineties, though I’m kind of glad I didn’t experience it. For me, the nineties and early 00’s represent exactly the ‘yeah nineties kids!’ memes. When nickelodeon was good, beanie babies, gameboys, all that good stuff 😛 A simpler time when no one had social media and we still watched saturday morning cartoons and rode our bikes around the block The summer meant lounging in swimming pools, me in the shallow end cause I was afraid of water. Though in my case, playing outside was out of the question for safety reasons, unfortunately. So I didn’t really experience the playing in the cul-de-sac till dark much. Kids these days are missing out.

        Childhood! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Y3tCcdtdlg

        That music video=the nice old days LOL (minus the crush on friends’ parents)

        • “I obviously didn’t exist in the eighties and was a bit young to get into the dramas of the nineties(not so gifted indeed, LOL.) I’m aware of the ‘culture wars’ drama of the nineties, though I’m kind of glad I didn’t experience it.”

          Instead of experiencing the beginning of the culture wars, you simply came to age when the repurcussions of it had been come unavoidable.

          The 90s still had an innocence about it that carried over from the 80s. It was not only before 9/11, but also before Bush having stole the 2000 election. The 90s was an optimistic decade. The Cold War was ended and America seemed on top of the world.

          The 2000s hit Americans like a ton of bricks. It was when the Silent generation lost its majority in Congress and Boomers gained majority.

          “For me, the nineties and early 00’s represent exactly the ‘yeah nineties kids!’ memes. When nickelodeon was good, beanie babies, gameboys, all that good stuff 😛 A simpler time when no one had social media and we still watched saturday morning cartoons and rode our bikes around the block The summer meant lounging in swimming pools, me in the shallow end cause I was afraid of water. Though in my case, playing outside was out of the question for safety reasons, unfortunately. So I didn’t really experience the playing in the cul-de-sac till dark much. Kids these days are missing out.”

          Our respective life experiences have some crossover. I graduated high school in 1994. I spent the rest of the 90s wandering aimlessly around in a state of personal confusion. In retrospect, I see my full adulthood having begun in 2000, when Bush became president. The cynicism of the Bush era woke me up and politicized me.

          As with you, the 90s represent a good time of my life. I was still in a youthful state of mind, although with the burden of depression especially following high school. I expreienced Nickelodeon, gameboys, etc as I was growing up. Some consider me part of the MTV Generation, which includes younger GenXers and older Millennials.


          I looked it up, out of curiosity. That song came out in 2003. That far from my childhood, nine years following my high school graduation. To me, 2003 was a dark dark oh so despairingly dark era, for me and for the entire country.

          In my personal experience, 1994 was an ending point followed by a transitional era until 2000. It was in 1994, for example, that Curt Cobain died. It was also around the time when MTV as a music video channel was coming to an end. Music videos was a defining feature of the 80s and early-to-mid 90s. MTV would play music videos for hours with few breaks in between.

          • Yes, but 2003 was a lot of my pre-puberty childhood, and a lot of the 90’s kiddie stuff was still around. I still watched VCR’s then. I didn’t see teh early nineties, for me the nineties were the transition era… but I did exist when Cobain died, though I was very young.

            Perhaps because of my background, 90’s music was largely the Chinese pop my parents listened to 😛 But as a kid I did sing NSYNC, the backstreet boys, etc 😛 Though as I got older I did discover the ‘good stuff’ like Nirvana, the grunge scene, that passed me by.

            Appearently I would belt this song out as a toddler :/ I’m so glad social media and phone cameras weren’t around then. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xf8oG3yE2fI

          • 2003… one of my sharpest memories was watching on the news a space shuttle exploding. It was a meetup of Chinese parents. I was eight and bored. My mom had turned to fox news to watch the Columbia shuttle coverage. I remember a few of the parents telling her to change to a different news channel. Even then, I sensed that the parents had problems with fox news itself.

            I may be a sadist. But as a six year old on 9/11, I literally did not have strong emotions watching planes hit the towers. Like, I was thinking “that’s bad, planes hit the towers, people died.” But I felt weird for not having the strong reactions of the people (adults in particular) around me. A part of me wondered if more little kids were like me but pretended to feel more strongly to fit in. I was in California then so it wasn’t close. I did grasp that it was on purpose, but I still did not have strong emotions, other than I didn’t want to ride planes. It was all self-centered then.

          • “Yes, but 2003 was a lot of my pre-puberty childhood,”

            The equivalent time period for me was 1983.

            I can’t say was all that aware of the larger world at that time. My reality only included the town I lived in and even within that my everyday experience was mostly narrowed down to my immediate neighborhood. I was certainly unaware of politics and pop culture. All the media I knew about were cartoons and public television

            “2003… one of my sharpest memories was watching on the news a space shuttle exploding. It was a meetup of Chinese parents. I was eight and bored.”

            I had a similar childhood experience. In 1986 when I was 11 years old, the space shuttle Challenger exploded.

            It was quite the event because a teacher was on the shuttle, the first teacher who became an astronaut. It was a big deal because the media was obsessing over it before the explosion. She had addressed the nation’s children. As I recall, the launch happened during school hours and so all the school children across the country watched a teacher blow up.

            It was one of those events that psychologically marked the ending of the Cold War with its space race. That explosion was a major hit for the space program and it probably never fully recovered. It was a PR disaster.

            “I may be a sadist. But as a six year old on 9/11, I literally did not have strong emotions watching planes hit the towers.”

            I doubt that makes you a sadist. Now, if you were torturing neighborhood cats and dissecting them, that would be sadism.

            If it makes you feel any better, I didn’t have a strong emotional response to 9/11. It may have had something to do with my depression. My emotions were muted in some ways and I was used to dark thoughts.

            More importantly, even back then, I was far less politically clueless than the average American. I had some sense of international realities and 9/11 seemed unsurprising. For anyone who wasn’t a typical ignorant American, something like 9/11 was entirely predictable, at some point. The US had been doing all kinds of evil shit all over the world for generations. Blowback was coming, one way or another.

            “It was all self-centered then.”

            You were only 6 years old. All small children are self-centered. That is true whether that self-centeredness is expressed through strong emotions or not. The response of a child has to do with a variety of contributing factors that have little if anything to do with the child itself.

            “Basically, I responded to tragic events with much stronger curiosity than a sense of what I was “supposed” to feel”

            That doesn’t seem like a bad resonse to my mind. Curiosity is almost always a good thing, with some rare exceptions. Anyway, curiosity is definitely a normal response. Most children are highly curious about the world, unless that curiosity is crushed by parents, teachers and other authority figures.

          • I remember watching the CNN clip on youtube of the challenger exploding. The subdued excitement and then the silence was haunting.

            Still, the one accident that’s stayed with me is TWA 800. I have a small interest in aviation and for some reason that tragedy, and the nature of it, just stuck with me.

          • I am not so sure. The nature of the accident. I don’t mean the conspiracy theories. I mean, a loaded 747, delayed over an hour with passengers, exploding mid-air shortly after takeoff. Of course, I also saw the Final Destination episode where students on a class-trip to Paris’s plane explodes mid-air, which I later realize was based on TWA 800.

            Unlike Lockerbie TWA 800 exploded at an altitude that would not have been high enough on it’s own to lose consciousness. People ski at the altitude that TWA 800 exploded at. Of course, the violent nature of the explosion may have meant that most were knocked out pretty immediately. Still, the image of the explosion, followed by the nose ripping off, then the rest of the plane climbing before stalling… it’s actually eerily reminisent of the Challenger, of which there is actually a lot of speculation that the Challenger passengers were not killed immediately (shudder)

          • Yes. But I tend to maintain this emotional detachment from tragedies. Believe it or not. I can read depressing news without feeling depressed at all, I can read with detachment. It is only things that have a personal connection that emotionally affects me. Otherwise…

            Of course this is probably entirely normal. But most people pretend to ‘care’ more than they do. Not that I don’t care. I definitely care. But I’d be lying if I said it was emotional in the same way I’d feel emotional towards something personal.

          • I’m not particularly informed, and I wasn’t that surprised at any of the tragedies, either. And as a kid it wasn’t like I was aware of political stuff. Still, I wasn’t surprised or unsurprised when 9/11 occurred. It just… was. For me things like the above are never really surprising or unsurprising. They just… are. This isn’t because I’m psychic or anything; I didn’t predict the Boston Marathon attack. But I wasn’t surprised, or unsurprised, when it happened. It just… happened.

            No, I don’t torture cats or anything! I’m just saying that I don’t seem to respond to things the way I’m “supposed” to respond, if you know what I mean. And that’s not to say I don’t care about the people affected or the issues, just that I do not feel the connections I feel I am expected to feel.

            So I seem to have skipped the development of naivete. It’s almost blank slatish. But I hold the “America is the best place ever!” attitude as a kid, since I was taught that in schools. I felt sorry for people who were not Americans in America, who lived in other countries. And I mean all other countries, not developing countries. I felt glad I was American, and not Canadian, or some other first world country. America was the best place ever! Fuck yeah ‘Murica!

            I no longer have that attitude, though America will always be ‘home’ to me

          • I would say my emotional hyper-sensitivity is far from normal. It is hard to say exactly what it is. I’m not an emotionally expressive person and I can even have a certain kind of depressed detachment from my emotions, but they are still quite powerful like a deep undercurrent. Also, I’m extremely lacking in sensitivity with physical pain. I’m not delicate flower.

          • I am hyper-aware of my surroundings, and I’d say I’m highly sensitive, but I seem to be decent at detachment from triggering things at the same time if there is no personal connection. I’d like to say that I’m honest with myself and in touch with my mind and emotions, but I developed that over time as a response to, well, stuff.

            This is strange, but I’d say that I am limbic and high-strung, deeply serious despite a goofy type in terms of expression. But I am also highly laid-back and type B, and not competitive in the least. I am deeply competitive with myself, but not with others. Though I do get jealous. But then I try to improve… for myself rather than a one-up type of way. In fact, reading the college admissions stuff I linked in the other thread… I realize that it made me unhappy reading it. I’ve realized that I am indeed happy where I ended up, at a public school doing my own thing. I am perusing what I am into, the rat race no longer haunts me. And I don’t care to join it again. Whatever I do I do for myself and what I care for. I approach things from a more personal perspective than a materialistic one.

            I’m a goofball. But deeply serious if that makes sense. I often express seriousness in ‘funny’ ways though, maybe a bit like a comedian who deals with serious topics.

          • “I tend to maintain this emotional detachment from tragedies.”

            I seem to be less shocked than most people to some things. My response to 9/11 was an example of that. But that was largely because I was already in a state of emotionally expecting something horrific like that. I had been for years before that listening to alternative views and so I knew that blowback was inevitable. I was emotionally prepared for it, in a way most Americans weren’t.

            On the other hand, I do tend to respond quite personally to events that don’t directly impact me. I get depressed easily from the news. Also, I remember when I first read Derrick Jensen. He describes some horrific historical events and it made me despair in a deeply emotional way. I take everything personally in many ways. But at the same time my depression makes me expect the worse and so I’m not easily surprised by bad events.

          • I understand. I remember, since I was a kid, thinking it was good to have low self esteem and that I should degrade myself, because it made achievements more ‘achieving’ since my expectations were lower anyway. I thought it was a good thing to expect nothing out of myself and think I was a worthless sack of shit because then any achievement would seem better. Of course, this was all bull.

            When I was suicidal a few months ago, I remember feeling that it wasn’t so bad, because you fear death less. That instinctive fear reflex should weaken, so maybe I could stop being a fraidy-cat. I could be less timid since I wasn’t as uncomfortable with death. I’ve always struggled since childhood with being deeply timid. You know that childhood period were you’re supposed to not be afraid of stuff? I never had that. Maybe now, as a suicidal depressive person, I could finally have that.

            This, of course, also ended up being complete bullshit.

  2. “I’d say that his shifting attitude about the New Deal welfare state was more situational, as many white Americans were less willing to support a welfare state after the Civil Rights movement because it meant blacks would have equal access to those public benefits. Reagan probably was always a racist, but it remained hidden behind progressivism until black rights forced it out into the open. Even his union views were more of a situational change, rather than an ideological change, for the Cold War reframed many issues.”

    Do you think racism plays a factor in the “Ebil welfare socialismmmm evil” mentality?

    • I would answer with a clear and strong YES! I have no doubts that racism (and xenophobia in general) is at the core of or at least a major factor in nearly every position that is taken by conservatives, right-wingers, and reactionaries… and so ends up framing and shaping even the views of those on the left. We live in a society where it is impossible to escape the taint of racism and racial bias. We live in a racial order. It defines every aspect of our lives. It is the air we breathe.

    • That expresses my view as well. I don’t see that as in any way in contradiction to my post. It’s just two different perspectives on the same person.

      Many people are confused by how someone like Reagan could simultaneously be socially liberal on some issues and racist on others, simultaneously progressive in some ways and corporatist in others. But that is just a particular kind of American, of which Reagan is most representative.

      Even though it is ideologically inconsistent, it is good to remember that ideology is more often a rationalization than a motivation.

    • Fox News did negatively impact my parents for many years. But eventually it became too much even for them. They don’t watch it as much these days.

      It helped that they left the Deep South, for there is almost no escape from right-wing media down there. Being back in the moderate Midwest has done my parents a world of good.

      I’ve also challenged them quite a bit in recent years and brought them alternative perspectives. I talk to my parents a lot. It does make a big difference when there is a communication channel open. I’ve always been able to talk to my parents, even when we disagree.

      BTW my dad voted for Reagan the first time. But he didn’t vote for him the second time. He thought that Reagan didn’t live up to his rhetoric and promises.

      • I have often wondered if the deep culture of hatred may be responsible for the very high numbers of health problems that people in the Deep South seem to be suffering.

        It’s good that your parents at least are willing to talk about it at times. I suppose though that there is culture shock?

        To be honest, I think that they would be good candidates for spending time in a place like one of the large coastal cities or in Europe. It might open up their perspectives even more.

      • There have been studies about social problems in relation to cultures of trust and cultures of honor. The latter in particular has received plenty of attention in the role it plays in the American South. There are some good books about the topic, at least one that looks at the relevant research. These cultural factors seem to connect to measures of economic inequality, moreso than just poverty

        About my parents, there wasn’t exactly culture shock. But maybe a little bit of that. They did spend 20 years in the Deep South, which I think permanently warped them to some extent. The Deep South is a severely fucked up place in many ways. My parents were fortunate enough to have grown up in the Midwest and spent most of their lives in the Midwest. Returning to the Midwest was a return to their own more moderate selves, as they were more moderate before having spent so much time in the Deep South.

        My parents aren’t as introspective as I am, although my father comes closer to that. I’m not sure they are aware of how much their environment influences them. I doubt most people realize how much environments and changes in environments have such a powerful impact..

        • Don’t get me wrong. The Midwest has its own problems. They are just different problems from the Deep South.

          Even Midwest moderateness can be problematic for it easily verges into an assimilationist conformity, as opposed to the Southern segregationist inequality. What the Midwest lacks is the worst elements of reactionary politics and reactionary fundamentalism, although we aren’t entirely free of it.

          It also depends on what part of the Midwest you’re talking about. There are significant differences between Upper and Lower Midwest, between Eastern and Western Midwest. Ohio, especially Southern Ohio, isn’t all that similar to Wisconsin.

          The South is equally diverse. Actually, I’d say it is even more diverse. Texas is not New Orleans is not Florida is not South Carolina is not Kentucky is not Kansas. Parts of the South are quite multicultural and cosmopolitan, but they are the exception to the rule. Even in those places, the reactionary is still powerfully felt.

          My thoughts on the matter are divided.

          I do think that the Southern tradition of authoritarian religion, plutocratic economics, and reactionary politics is in many ways the single greatest threat to American society. Beginning with the Civil War defeat and continuing through the Southern Strategy, there has been a simultaneous nationalization of the South and Southernization of the nation.

          That is what gave us Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush. But it also gave us Carter and Clinton, for whatever that is worth. Many policies credited to Reagan actually began with Carter. And Clinton set the helped create the conditions that would lead to so many problems during the Bush administration.

          On the other hand, the South holds out the greatest potential hope for the entire country. It is a far more liberal place than party politics shows. The population is in majority support of the Democratic Party, for instance. But the South has always been controlled by an elite. This could begin to quickly change. The South is leading the way on the emerging minority-majority, both blacks and hispanics, populations that are much more open to alternative and radical politics, including socialism.

          The thing about reactionary politics is that it tends to cause a backlash. The force of the backlash will be equal to the force of these decades of reaction that have suppressed the majority of the population. When the dam breaks, it will be momentous and transformative.

          The danger is that those in power will get violent, possibly more violent than has ever before been seen in this country. They will not give up power easily or accept change easily. We are facing the conditions for revolution. If that revolution fails, the authoritarian police state that will be put into place will be brutally oppressive.

        • I’d be curious about which Midwestern states are being referred to, when some Asian Americans say they’ve had negative experiences. Illinois and Minnesota have among the highest rates of Asian ethnicity in the country. I don’t know anything about the Asian American populations in those two states.

          It might make a difference if they are concentrated in their own separate communities or more dispersed throughout the population. It also would matter how long those populations have been there and hence how well established they are.

    • I know exactly what you mean. BTW if you want to understand why racists supported progressivism in the past but no longer (openly) support it, the book that explains it is Ira Katznelson’s When Affirmative Action Was White. If most white conservatives, right-wingers, and neoliberals were honest with themselves, they’d have to admit that they don’t actually have an ideological opposition to a welfare state… just an ideological opposition to helping people who they perceive as not being like them. This is why they still support corporate welfare, because that kind of welfare mostly goes to white people.

  3. Perhaps I should share a comment that I wrote elsewhere on Sarah Palin:

    The reason why the mainstream conservatives like Palin is because she is like them.

    Remember when in 2000, many elected Bush on the notion that he was really the man that they would like to have a beer with? Not to say Gore was perfect, because he was not, but the point was that his perceived intellectualism alienated many voters.

    Palin embodies everything that the right stands for. A total contempt for science and knowledge. Excessive patriotism. Ignorance and a perverse sense of pride in being ignorant.

    For that reason, her brand of populism will remain beloved.

    Self-interest governs all.

    An interesting study a while back found that Whites strongly opposed affirmative action when African Americans were being aided the most, but when their children were being challenged by Asian Americans, they firmly supported it.

    I would argue that works for the neoliberals as well. They have no problems with bailouts, massive corporate tax breaks, and other state subsidies. Their problems lie with when they help society rather than a small ruling elite.

    • Do you happen to have a link to that study, know the title of it, or know the names of the authors? I’d like to see it. I may have seen it before, but I’m not sure.

      I’d say it isn’t just about a small ruling elite. It is about any ruling elite, small or large, as long as it is people such as themselves.

      When whites had majority support for a welfare state it was because the white population not only was being helped the most by it but also because whites were a clear majority at the time. Whites as a demographic were in a sense a large ruling elite. All whites could benefit from their race ruling, even if they didn’t personally and directly have power.

  4. Random thing that bugs me, maybe pointless. But the fact that the people running this shot and the people with the prominent voices are overwhelmingly baby boomers. Murray, Jon entine, politicians, senior businessmen, etc.

    • You grew up in a world ruled largely by Baby Boomers. I grew up in a world ruled largely by Silents. We will be soon entering a world ruled largely by GenXers.

      But I suspect that Millennials will push into important positions fairly quickly. Retiring and dying Boomers will leave a gaping vacancy that GenXers alone may not be able to fill. Millennials are the largest generation in US history and they will have a powerful impact.

      Demographic change is on the horizon. Besides generations, there is also the emerging minority-majority. Public opinion also shows a clear shift leftward.

      You only have too put up with the Boomers for a little while longer.

  5. I suspect that Generation Y will be quite different.

    – Better work-life balance
    – Greater respect for science
    – Perhaps more long-term oriented (I would hope)
    – Lessons from the past hopefully learned about inequality

    I think that the reason why the Baby Boomers grew up to where they did is because they grew up in relative abundance, unlike say, the generation that grew up in the Depression.

    Gen X too I think will be closer to Y than anything else. They never really enjoyed a booming job market or anything else.

    • That is basically my perspective. I don’t know what it will all add up to, but the status quo can’t be maintained for much longer. Change will happen, one way or another, whether we like it or not. I think the younger generations realize that and realize they have a tough challenge before them.

  6. If history is any guide, the Baby Boom as a whole will not be well regarded for the damage that it has done, at least in the US; perhaps in the rest of the Anglo world as well.

    • Previous generations worked hard and sacrificed much in order to give Boomers immense advantages, opportunities, and wealth. They took it all and then they squandered it, leaving nothing but problems, failures, and waste as their legacy. It is highly unlikely that future generations will look back on them with forgiveness.

  7. That is what scares me about this.

    There seems to be a collective unwillingness to invest in anything other than what benefits them directly.

    I remember reading a poll that said that 50% of Americans were unwilling to pay more taxes to reduce the cost of college to students. I do not have a breakdown by age, but I suspect that the older generations are more resistant. The “what is in it for me” dominates this.

    Ironically a great deal potentially – life saving advances in medicine for example. But they are willfully ignorant of this.

    You could argue that this was one of the reasons why the US lost its manufacturing sector. Corporate greed combined with a penchant for low prices, no matter the long-term social costs has weakened fatally the bargaining power of the average worker.

    Likewise, the decline in investments in infrastructure, savings, and other problems – there’s a very strong present orientation.

  8. Maybe so.

    I would not have been so angry had they used their power to do good in the world, but as it stands, they (or more accurately, the majority of the boomer generation since there are some good people too), have managed to squander their power massively.

  9. Anyways, some things to look at:



    Climate change:

    I would like breakdowns by age group (it’d be interesting to see why). I suppose the right denies global warming, but the others …

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