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The New Nationalism Won’t Save the Right

The appearance of such splenetic politicians on the national scene as Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib from Southwest Detroit and her equally radical counterpart Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from the Bronx is no coincidence.

The House of Representatives is now full of ranting Trump haters, like Maxine Waters, Hank Johnson, and others who engage in hysterical hyperbole like comparing the president [1] to Hitler. As a result, the party regulars will have to work hard to keep these noisemakers in line. Columnist Michael Goodwin gives sound advice [2] when he tells Democratic congressional leaders: “Caving into the demands of the fanatical resistance movement, Schumer and Pelosi painted their party—and the nation—into a corner. Unless they inject sanity into the chaos, the shutdown will be a mere taste of the trouble ahead.”

Of course, it’s not as if the regulars like Congressmen Brad Sherman and Adam Schiff of California and Jerrold Nadler of the Big Apple are really moderate. They too are eager to impeach Trump on whatever grounds they can find or invent, and are itching to investigate GOP-appointed judges and cabinet officials. These “moderates” just want to inject a bit of order into their inquisition rather than letting an impetuous freshman like Rashida hurl obscenities [3] while calling for Trump to be brought down.

Then too there’s the nagging problem that Rashida, Alexandria, and the Black Caucus are pro-Palestinian and outspokenly and sometimes incoherently critical of Israel. This no doubt causes heartburn for politicians like Schumer and Feinstein, who have both championed pro-Israel legislation, including anti-BDS measures. Some of the more bizarre ideas coming from these young representatives are also likely to displease the Democrats’ corporate donors, such as heavily taxing corporations to pay for expensive programs intended to fight climate change.      

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All of this leads me to a prediction: in the next few years, a working alliance will develop between regular Democrats—particularly New Democrats from red states—and the milquetoast Republican establishment. According to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight [4], the New Democrats have produced a slightly higher percentage of freshmen congressmen than have the progressives (29.8 percent to 27.1 percent).

Such an alliance would reflect electoral reality, as the Right seems to be growing weaker, not stronger, since the election of Trump two years ago. The ever ambitious Mitt Romney fired on his party’s leader prematurely, but his political instincts may be right after all. The GOP is likely to move leftward because that’s where a majority of the voters are, [5] and if this happens to Trump’s detriment, Romney will hope to pick up the pieces. Neoconservatives and much of the authorized conservative movement would no doubt welcome the Utah senator or someone like him as the kind of “conservative” they could work with were he to run for the presidency.

With due respect to TAC editor Jim Antle, with whom I’ve often agreed in the past, I just don’t see how Trump and his electoral base can stay in power by appealing [6] to a “new nationalism.” Most Americans polled are far less concerned with putting up a border wall and expressing national identity than they are with other issues, like having the government pay for their medical care. And though 65 percent of Americans now rate immigration as one of their “five major concerns,” only 44 percent support the president’s proposal for a border wall. Some 56 percent of respondents, according to a Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, believe that he should withdraw his demand for funding this project [7].

Finally, it seems unlikely that black voters and college-educated women will move from left to right, no matter how much Trump has done to improve their financial prospects. If the elections since 2018 have shown anything, it’s this: blue electoral areas have remained quite solid, while traditionally red ones, even in the Deep South, are up for grabs. That’s because the party perceived as being further to the left has benefited from its growing coalition. If there’s another explanation, I can’t seem to find it.

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It would not be unusual to have two national parties that are recognizably on the left contending for power. The parties now running the major Western European countries are all to the left of our present GOP. And the present Republican Party is well to the left of where it was 20 years ago on such issues as gay rights and feminism.

A Pew Research Center study published in 2017 shows that since 1994, both national parties have moved decisively to the left on social questions. Although the Democrats have done so more dramatically, the shift has affected Republicans too. For example, the Pew survey asked whether homosexuality should be discouraged by social pressures. In 1994, 58 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of Democrats said it should be. By 2017, the shares of both Republicans and Democrats had dropped some 21 points.

In a possible alliance, the GOP, as the ideologically and electorally weaker side, will readily cooperate with establishment Democrats. They will undoubtedly find such shared concerns as confronting Putin “the thug” and supporting the Likud Party in Israel. They should have no trouble reaching an agreement on giving amnesty to all non-criminal illegal immigrants once Trump is no longer on the scene.

There is no reason to think that this political shift won’t continue. We are looking at a process that’s been brought about by college educators, the culture industry, the mass media, and mass immigration, and the momentum may be extremely hard to reverse or even to stop. America’s future won’t necessarily be British Columbia’s, whose provincial legislature features only parties of the left [8] and which hasn’t elected a conservative to a provincial office since the early 1990s. What I am suggesting is that I’m seeing less and less political support on the right.

Paul Gottfried is Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years. He is a Guggenheim recipient and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents [9].

57 Comments (Open | Close)

57 Comments To "The New Nationalism Won’t Save the Right"

#1 Comment By Agree On January 18, 2019 @ 10:39 pm

@Lobman : “Trump should keep it simple. Build the wall, insist on citizenship.
Get American troop out of the Middle East.
Pursue policies that create fair trade and domestic jobs.”

Bingo. He wasted two years getting turned around by all the neocon Trump whisperers in the White House.

Moving the embassy to Jerusalem, base-building in Africa(!), backslapping with the Saudi journalist-chopper-upper, boots on the ground in Syria and Afghanistan — pointless, self-destructive crap, all of it. If he had focused on what got him to the White House – immigration, bad trade deals, elite corruption – he wouldn’t have lost the House.

#2 Comment By Ben On January 19, 2019 @ 6:12 pm

Don’t let Gottfried mislead you about British Columbia. I’m from B.C. and I don’t expect him to know what’s going on there. There are two parties in B.C. – the NDP and the Liberals. The NDP are the provincial Canadian version of the American Democratic Party. The Liberals are the provincial Canadian version of the American Republican Party. They are not Liberal. They’re conservative to the bone. But they have no problem with gays and trannies – just like republicans

#3 Comment By Sonny On January 19, 2019 @ 10:45 pm

Well the total Fake News is all Liberal Left Loons spreading lies about Trump every chance they get. Look what happened Friday with the Fake Buzz Feed News – the media was creaming all day long – did anyone bother to check to see if any truth in the accusations? Of course not, but sure was funny watching the media and the Democrats went totally nuts spreading BS

Better times are ahead for Trump after Barr is in control of the so corrupt DOJ.

I talk to alot of people everyday and almost 100% want the wall built and why not – Heroin is killing people all across America and 95% of it comes from our southern border along with Rapists , Child Molesters , Murders , Gang Bangers etc so Build the dam wall at any and all costs just ask an Angel Mom or Dad

#4 Comment By The Village Atheist On January 20, 2019 @ 5:30 am

“College educators, the culture industry, the mass media and mass immigration” are the causes of a leftward shift? Nonsense. The extremism of the NRA in the light of mass shootings, the marriage of evangelical Christianity and the GOP, the Iraqi invasion, the Wall Street/Main Street meltdown, the incessant scorn filled radio ranting about liberals, Democrats and the main stream media, and (the icing on the Cake) the election of a man historically unfit for any elective office (Federal, State, Local); there are your reasons for the increasing movement to the left. Besides, capitalism plus democracy, socialism will be the result. That’s the prediction of Joseph Schumpeter, no liberal by any measure. Let’s be honest, no matter which party controls the White House and/or Congress, government will not get smaller. Uncle Sam has the government it wants, regardless of what it says. Just watch a politician of either party try to eliminate a Federal spending program. It’s like watching a cat trying to pick up a ping pong ball. It’s kind of funny and then it’s kind of sad.

#5 Comment By Grant Havers On January 21, 2019 @ 10:44 am

Gottfried’s analysis is essentially correct and applies well to Canada. The demographic and cultural changes that have transformed US politics are also well underway north of the border. He is also absolutely right that British Columbia (where I have lived for 21 years) has no true conservative party. The BC Liberal Party and the NDP have utterly indistinguishable policies on sexual identity and state-imposed “egalitarianism,” even though they differ on economic policies. The Liberals would fit quite comfortably into the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party.

#6 Comment By Chris On January 21, 2019 @ 11:38 pm

The writer is delusional. What will happen, is the rise of a radical, orthodox Roman Catholic conservative block and a conservative islamic block.

There are no moderates in America anymore. The conflict is at this point personnel. Thoughts, ideas, and even beliefs, no longer matter.

You also act like the mass immigrants, don’t have their own unique view of things. Hispanic’s and muslims, are only using the Left, to colonize America. Once they no longer need the Left, they will be far more conservative(aside for on welfare), then conservatives ever where.

#7 Comment By Grace On February 22, 2019 @ 11:20 am

“Finally, it seems unlikely that black voters and college-educated women will move from left to right, no matter how much Trump has done to improve their financial prospects.”

The blacks and white women know that the financial benefits we are enjoying now are more thanks to Obama that Trump. You’ll be lucky that Trump doesn’t derail the gravy train as he’s massively incompetent.

Also, blacks aren’t going to vote for racists and women aren’t going to vote for misogynists so yeah, yall are out of luck on those fronts.