National Review: The American Right Is Divided Over the Nature of Power

Cameron Hilditch is back with another one of his articles which describes the demographics of the American Right of the 1990s and 2000s.

National Review:

“The ongoing argument on the American right between classical liberals on the one hand and nationalists on the other is, at its most intellectually respectable, an argument about the nature of power.

Classical liberals of the Goldwater/Reagan school have always believed that a crucial qualitative difference exists between state power and commercial power. When divested of all euphemisms, they argue, government is nothing other than violence, and the nation-state is nothing other than a geographic monopoly on violence held by one group of people (civil magistrates) over all others in a given jurisdiction. These conservatarians are keen to remind us that every law passed by a government is executed and enforced by men with guns, and that every tax they levy is collected in the same way, with compliance ensured by the threat of force. Persistent refusal on the part of the individual to adhere to any of the government’s edicts results in the expropriation of his property, his imprisonment in a cage, or, in extreme cases, his death. To their statist opponents, conservatarians point out that, with respect to its basic modus operandi, government has a lot in common with organized-crime syndicates, a similarity that scholars such as Diego Gambetta have explored in the context of the Sicilian Mafia. Milton Friedman spoke for the libertarian school of thought when he wrote that “political freedom means the absence of coercion of a man by his fellow men. The fundamental threat to freedom is power to coerce, be it in the hands of a monarch, a dictator, an oligarchy, or a momentary majority.” …

Speaking for myself, I’ll never be able to overcome my own political gag reflex at the naked and undisguised violence of the state, despite my social conservatism (which is considerable). State violence is not “cultural coercion” the way that advertising or corporate censorship is. It’s the real thing: coercion devoid of any adjective in front of it. But it’s nevertheless true that when social conservatives and libertarians came together to elect Ronald Reagan 40 years ago, they were each trying to limit two different kinds of power: the first group, social liberalism, and the second, state violence. Many hoped that both could be opposed seamlessly and simultaneously. After all, the shared foreign enemy of the Soviet Union had made them inevitable bedfellows. But what looked like inevitable, natural, and necessary political coalitions during the 20th century now seem increasingly contingent, unnatural, and artificial. It’s not at all clear that the center of American conservatism can hold given the unraveling and mutual estrangement. It’s not even clear that there still exists such a center at all.”

Fusionism is dead as a doornail.

The “fusionist” wing of the Republican Party or what used to be the conservative movement before Donald Trump is now about 49% of the party. We can divide this 49% into the Never Trumper or suburban moderate or libertarian-oriented, pro-business Republican establishment wing which is down to 12% of Republican voters. These people are fiscally conservative and socially liberal which is why they are so disaffected. The old Republican base which is more or less the Religious Right or the Reaganites who are fiscally conservative and socially conservative is about 37% of Republican voters.

What about the other 51% of Republican voters? Who are those people? The nationalist and populist faction is now half the party. Of this 51% which is the populist Right, at least 30% to 40% are socially conservative, fiscally moderate or populist. These people are the nativists who believe their racial identity is “very important” or “extremely important.” Around 10% to 20% of this group are socially conservative and fiscally conservative, but they are first and foremost pro-Trump with about 10% who are conspiracy theorists. The party is now united by opposition to social liberalism which is why the suburban moderates who used to dominate conservatism and who ruled the roost until Trump are going over to the Democrats. “Fusionism” describes a Republican coalition which doesn’t exist anymore.

White working class voters are now dominant in the Republican coalition.

How did this happen? PMCs have been migrating to the Democrats. White working class voters have been migrating into the Republican Party. Greatest Generation and Silent Generation voters are in steep decline. Social conservatives used to be split between the two parties, but now the left traditionalists who used to be Blue Dog Democrats who are socially conservative and economically moderate became Trump voters. Hence, the rise of “far right domestic extremism” as Center Left voters become “far right” voters.

New Deal liberalism was the Democratic version of fusionism. It was a coalition of populists and progressives. The coalition has been steadily breaking down since the 1948 election when progressives began to alienate the populists. The story continues through the Civil Rights Movement and the Cultural Revolution, the election of Nixon and Reagan and the divorce was finalized by Trump. The Republican Party has been transformed from a conservative-libertarian coalition to a populist-conservative coalition since the 2012 election although institutional conservatism hasn’t caught up with this new reality. The party has changed at the ground level. Elderly voters, the donor class and the policy agenda haven’t changed.

The shift in mood among social conservatives isn’t merely due to the failures of fusionism and decades of Reaganism. There was a class revolution within the Republican Party. This was brought on due to the fact that the populists switched sides in the Obama era and shifted the balance of power.

Note: In the Democratic Party, the trend is in the opposite direction. It has become the PMC party. Shitlibs are growing in power and make up a greater and greater share of the Democratic base. The party is now animated less by economic justice than polarizing racial, cultural and gender issues.

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  1. nobody discusses the root cause… deceptive usury thieving …

  2. Barry Goldwater was such a fraud. I wouldn’t be shocked if he had been launched by the CIA like the Birchers to blow off steam.

  3. The country has changed so much demographically that conservatism is no longer viable, not that it ever worked.

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