The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Boreal Supremacy: Bruce Bartlett’s Tendentious History of Partisanship

Posted on | May 5, 2012 | 37 Comments

Years ago, when I was living in Georgia, I coined the term boreal supremacy to describe the attitude of certain people that all things Northern were superior to all things Southern. That attitude has offended me ever since the 1970s, when Yankees started flooding into my native Atlanta, where the municipal motto might as well be, “Will the Last Son of a Bitch Leaving Cleveland Please Turn Out the Lights.”

The newcomers brought with them an arrogant assumption of their own superiority to us local yokels. The late humorist Lewis Grizzard spoke for us when he told those latter-day carpetbaggers that if they didn’t like the South, well, “Delta is ready when you are.” In other words, if all you’re going to do is complain about the way we talk and the way we live, please go the hell back to whatever frostbitten Rust Belt wasteland you came from and stop annoying us with your snooty Yankee putdowns.

Bruce Bartlett is from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and uncorks a gallon jug of boreal supremacy in an article for the Fiscal Times:

The most talked-about article in Washington this week is the one by political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein blaming political polarization and gridlock on the Republican Party. They say that its breech of longstanding norms of political competition, especially routine use of the filibuster in the Senate, has gone over the line. Mann and Ornstein blame the extreme rightward tilt of the GOP for its destructive behavior. . . .

(So far, so good, although I haven’t talked at all about the Mann/Ornstein article, because I saw at a glance that it was just a couple of liberals making a tendentious argument scapegoating conservatives for partisan friction.)

The roots of political polarization go back to before the Civil War. The slaveholding society of the old South necessarily imposed upon it a very conservative view of the world, which impacts public policy to the present day.

(Oh, what fresh hell is this? Does Barlett really expect us to believe that opposition to, inter alia, Dodd-Frank and Waxman-Markey, are expressions of the antebellum South?)

One way in which this conservatism exhibited itself and still does is that Southerners tend to be very religious in an evangelical Christian way. The reason for this is that when slavery came under attack by Northern abolitionists, Southerners found comfort in the Bible. In it there are many passages that defend slavery and treat it as a normal part of life (e.g., Exodus 20: 20-21; Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3: 22).
Perhaps the clearest biblical defense of slavery is that in 1 Timothy 6: 1: “Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be defamed.” . . .

(Dan Savage, call your office.)

A complement to biblical literalism was constitutional literalism. Southerners noted, correctly, that the Founding Fathers did not ban slavery and, indeed, accepted it as a necessary condition of the great compromise that led to creation of the United States. Several provisions of the Constitution implicitly defended slavery as an institution, and the concept of states’ rights severely limited the federal government’s ability to do anything about it.

(Here, Bartlett is on more solid ground: Words mean things, whether in a covenant between God and man, or in an agreement among men. While such an agreement can be amended by mutual consent, the attempt to breach the contract by plainly dishonest “interpretation” ought to be stubbornly resisted.)

The Southern states also adopted extremely conservative tax and spending policies due to slavery. Since much of the wealth of the South was in the form of slaves, slave owners were always concerned that they might be made to bear a heavier tax burden as a consequence. The limitation on direct taxes in the Constitution was primarily to shield slaves from federal taxation.

(Eh? I seem to recall some Bostonians who took great umbrage at the British tax on tea, so excuse me for being suspicious of the idea that 18th-century Yankees were in favor of high taxes, federal or otherwise. And you’ll have to provide me some documentation from original sources for this unusual assertion that the constitutional prohibition on direct federal taxation had anything to do with slavery.)

In the “Jim Crow” era after the Civil War, Southerners resisted efforts to improve public education because they believed that African Americans would be the primary beneficiaries. They also resisted spending for better transportation because convict labor was a very cheap way of maintaining roads that justified harsh penalties for law breaking, especially by black males, who were often sentenced to long prison terms by kangaroo courts just to provide quasi-slave labor for the state.
And of course the “Bourbons” of Southern society wanted taxes kept low to maintain their wealth and lifestyle. It didn’t bother them if the public schools were dreadful because their children went to private academies.

(What is all this noise? Bartlett has either re-written the entire history of American public education, or else adopted the ideas of other revisionists. The question is, what requires explanation: The South’s relative reluctance to invest in public education, or the North’s fanatical faith in the efficacy of public schools? Having studied this history somewhat myself, I consider the Horace Mann/John Dewey enthusiasm for the Prussian model of statist education as the alien phenomenon which its advocates must defend, rather than to impugn the motives of those whose preference is for a more traditional view of education. Barlett merely seeks here to insult the South, by generally denouncing its public schools as “dreadful,” without consideration for any historical circumstance other than Jim Crow racism.)

The point is that political, economic and cultural conservatism has deep, deep roots in Southern society. Under normal circumstances, Southerners would naturally have gravitated toward the more conservative of our two major political parties, which has long been the Republican Party. But because it was the party of Abraham Lincoln and abolitionism, Southerners remained strongly averse to the GOP for more than 100 years after the war.

(Define “conservative,” Bruce. You are attempting to apply contemporary ideological categories onto the distant past, which is always a difficult proposition. The Republican Party was, in its origins and purposes, strictly a regional organization representing the North, and especially the anti-slavery movement in the North, specifically aimed to prevent the spread of slavery into the Western territories. Lincoln was elected in 1860 with slightly less than 40% of the popular vote, the Democrats having destroyed themselves in a regional split fomented in large measure by secessionist leader William Lowndes Yancey. The Republican Party represented regional interests, especially those of the industrial North. The Democrats subsequently — as one infamous GOP slogan had it — became the party of “Rum, Romanism and Rebellion,” representing mainly the rural South and immigrant labor groups in the urban North. As to which of the two major parties was truly “conservative,” we might say both and neither. The American conservative movement did not begin to take its present form until after World War II, largely as a Cold War opposition to communism in foreign policy, and against the Welfare State in domestic policy.)

Consequently, the most conservative region of the country remained solidly Democratic, an anomaly within what has long been the more liberal party. This marriage of convenience gave the Democrats control of Congress almost continuously from 1932 to 1994. It also long protected the South from legislative efforts to stop lynching, integrate schools, and provide voting rights for African Americans.

(Again with the race-baiting, eh? Why is it that you Yankees always imagine us Southerners are as obsessed with race as you are?)

The liberalism of the New Deal, however, began pushing Southern Democrats closer to the Republicans, especially on economic and national security issues. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s efforts to pack the Supreme Court and purge conservative Southern Democrats in 1938 pushed them into an alliance with Republicans that effectively controlled Congress throughout the 1940s and 1950s.
This was the golden era of bipartisanship, as shown graphically in the work of political scientist Keith Poole. Southern Democrats organized Congress with liberal Northern Democrats and were rewarded with committee chairmanships and other leadership positions, which they used to prevent the federal government from doing anything to undermine segregation.

(Again: It’s all about race, as if there were no other political controversies during the “golden era of bipartisanship.”)

But beginning with the Brown decision in 1954, federal courts began forcing the race issue onto the national agenda. The civil rights movement pressed Congress and eventually it acted with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But the real death knell of the conservative Southern Democrat was Watergate, which led to a vast influx of liberal Democrats into Congress beginning in 1974. They made no secret of their disdain for their southern brethren and they were actively pushed out of the party in various ways. For example, a number of Southerners were ousted from their committee chairmanships.

(If 1974 was the “death knell” of Southern Democrats, somebody forgot to inform Jimmy Carter, Sam Nunn and Howell Heflin, among others.)

The alienation of Southern Democrats from the national party provided the opportunity for Republicans to finally make inroads in the South. By 1994, the last truly conservative Democrats were gone and all either formally or effectively became Republicans.
The demise of the conservative Southern Democrat is the primary reason for the rise of political polarization. The era in which they held significant power in the Democratic Party was a historical anomaly; polarization is actually the norm, to which we are now returning. The good old days of bipartisanship are as dead as the conservative Southern Democrat.

So it ends. Again, as previously in regard to public education, Bartlett seeks to impose the entire burden of explanation on the demonized South. Would it not be possible to make the ascent of the “McGovern Democrats” the thing to be explained? And must we accept, without question, Bartlett’s specfic points of reference in the history of “polarization” he recounts? (Just last night, before I’d seen Bartlett’s article, I discussed the same history from a different perspective.)

For example, we might point to the key role of California and the rise of Ronald Reagan’s Cold War conservatism as a decisive factor. Is it an accident, I ask, that the Republican Party lost the White House in the first election after the collapse of the Soviet Union? And is it also an accident that, when the GOP took Congress in the next midterm election, they did so by vastly expanding their number of representatives in the South?

Foreign policy, you see, had a lot to do with the long dominance of Southern Democrats as the political linchpin during “The American Century.” The South’s long and proud military culture, and its profound suspicion of abstract secular ideologies, made those stubborn Southerners the very glue of the whole enterprise that ultimately defeated both Nazism and Communism.

It has always been the case, as far back as the War of 1812, that the surest way to get America into a fight is to inflame the pugnacious sensibilities of hotblooded Southerners, who would today be just as happy to go put a whuppin’ on the mullahs in Iran as their fathers and grandfathers were to whup Commies in Vietnam or Nazis in France — or Yankees at Bull Run.

The absence of foreign policy questions from Bartlett’s historical survey permits his readers to imagine that the basic problem of our present-day politics can be explained by the intractable racism and deficient education of those ignorant evangelical Christian yokels down South. However flattering such an understanding might be to liberals (Yankee and otherwise), it omits so many other variables as to be useless and misleading as an explanation, and is merely a 965-word insult to an entire region and its people.

We could carry this argument much further — I clipped off a thousand words of this reply for the sake of brevity — but I want to make clear that scapegoating the South is not something I will silently accept in political discourse, especially not from my conservative friends.





ADDENDUM: Let me hasten to add that I have enormous empathy for Bruce Bartlett, who fell victim to a purge for his criticisms of the Bush administration. A former aide to Jack Kemp and a member of the Reagan administration — among many other credentials that might be cited — Bartlett wrote an excellent 2005 book, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.

This resulted in Bartlett being fired from a think-tank job and (to give you an idea of how a GOP purge works) Bartlett was subsequently excluded from a 2006 event at the Heritage Foundation marking the 25th anniversary of the 1981 Reagan tax cuts, a measure that Bartlett himself helped draft.

Having seen some other friends go under the bus wheels of the Republican Establisment Express, I can think of few who suffered this treatment less justly than did Bartlett. Even if you didn’t share his hostile view of the Bush administration, Bartlett was never accused of racism or anti-Semitism (as in the cases of Joe Sobran, Pat Buchanan, and Sam Francis), but merely criticized Bush-era policy. Much of what Bartlett said about the Bush administration is now commonly accepted by conservatives, especially those aligned with the Tea Party.

So if Bruce Bartlett is disgruntled, it is not as if he has no legitimate grievance. Lashing out at scapegoats, however, isn’t going to redeem Bartlett’s losses or rectify what’s gone wrong with the Republican Party. While I have myself suffered some injuries, and have sometimes responded by lashing in anger, my fight has always been to maintain a position inside the Big Tent — however marginal and less exalted than I might wish — in order to influence, however slightly, the direction of affairs.

If Bartlett wants to follow the Michael Lind/David Brock path into the liberal camp, that’s his choice, but one I wish he would avoid.

My irascible temperament has made me many enemies and often disappointed those who remain my friends. However that my have impaired my own fortunes, my experiences have taught me many valuable lessons. A college professor of mine used to be fond of the ancient Persian saying, “The dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on.”

That is to say, we must either decide to cooperate with the ongoing project, or else we’ll be left behind with the complainers and critics.

Despite my feuds with various emincences within the conservative movement and my frequent complaints about the GOP Establishment, I try to keep in mind that the caravan continues rolling, and my criticisms will have no influence if I’m just another barking dog.



37 Responses to “Boreal Supremacy: Bruce Bartlett’s Tendentious History of Partisanship”

  1. ThePaganTemple
    May 5th, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

    Better terms than “conservative” and “liberal”, to describe Republicans and Democrats (during the Civil War era and its immediate aftermath), would be Federalist (North) and Anti-Federalist (South), with both sides adopting the posture of each sides logical extreme. This is natural in a situation where passions are left smoldering until they finally erupt.

    Following the Civil War and moving on into the early days of the Industrial Age, politicians didn’t exhibit much tendency towards ideology. Northern politicians became Capitalists, but far more of them were Crony Capitalists, with very few if any free-market advocates of note, though this did lead to the adoption of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act under our newly discovered friend President Hayes.

    As for the South, they became Traditionalists, with a more or less closed society. This was augmented by, ironically, President Hayes again, when he withdrew federal forces in the South in return for the electoral votes that put him over the top in 1776.

    I would trace the genesis of the modern Conservative movement, however, to earlier than the New Deal. I would place it in the later days of the nineteen tens, possibly in the later part of that decade, arising in opposition to the growing power of the Progressive Movement as expressed by Presidents TR and Wilson.

    Though it should be noted that, while this arose mostly within the GOP, it was decidedly non-interventionist in foreign policy, which probably put them at odds with the more traditional military culture of the South, along with some social issues, notably involving race.

    But even that is not all cut and dried. The Ku Klux Klan was a national entity with great power and influence over both parties by the nineteen twenties, with the most powerful faction being not in a Southern State, but in Indiana. They wielded influence over both Republicans and Democrats, to the point where the Imperial Wizard in Indiana could credibly (though falsely) claim to have a direct phone line to the Coolidge White House.

    The Conservative and Liberal movements evolved from that era, with Republicans and Southern Democrats eventually developing some common ground on foreign policy and anti-communist issues.

    It was that issue, as much or maybe even more than racial issues, that served to exacerbate the divisions within the Democratic Party, owing to the Northern Democrats growing dependence on Big Labor.

  2. robertstacymccain
    May 5th, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

    Sometimes I think it might be easier to reduce all political categories to “Ins” and “Outs.” The people in power always have an argument for the continuance of their rule, while the people out of power always have arguments for while they should rule instead. Among the political class, personal ambition is sometimes expressed in ideological terms, so that one’s rivals may be accused of infidelity to The Cause, whatever that cause may be.

  3. Bob Belvedere
    May 5th, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

    Well put.

    One thing that the Left, in their Orwellian efforts [largely successful] to rewrite American History, have done is to make us ignorant of the fact that [certainly before The Civil War and, actually, one could argue up until the late 19th Century] if you read the speeches and writings of both Whigs, Republicans, and Democrats in that era and did not know party affiliation, you would, using today’s party platforms as a key, categorize them as Republicans. In other words, before Socialism [under the name ‘Progressivism’] obtained legitimacy in America, we all held what today would be described as Right Wing views; we were all conservatives in the traditional, classical, ageless sense.

    Now, it is true that small elements of Leftist-like [or Leftist-lite] thinking existed before The War Between The States, but as I implied, it consisted of a thought here and there. Interestingly, one can see such bits in the thinking of both the Jeffersonian/Jacksonians and the Quincy Adams camps. Nevertheless, such failures of Right Reason were few and far between. Only with the violent passions created by The Civil War and the revolutionary movements in Europe and the growing industrial labor movements and the massive influx of European immigrants, did Leftism begin to become legitimate in America — but it was a long and hard struggle because most Americans were naturally appalled by such utopian and Nihilistic philosophies. The Left had to go stealth [hence the creation of the term ‘Progressive’ and, later, ‘Liberal’] and pretend that they were actually pro-American.

    This Bartlett fellow is obviously stewed in the false history perpetrated by the Left.

  4. ThePaganTemple
    May 5th, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

     True. One thing I’ve discovered is that people might adhere in all sincerity to a particular ideology, but over time they will tailor it to fit their own personal needs and proclivities. This is not necessarily so much a bad thing as it is just an aspect of human nature. Then again, it depends on how far its carried. The politicians goal is to tailor his own specific message, and political philosophy, to answer to those needs, and fears. Naturally, there will always be some local color and regional flavor mixed into the process.

  5. Finrod Felagund
    May 5th, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    Ann Arbor, Michigan, is like Austin, Texas; both are very liberal medium-sized towns with a major state university.  It’s impossible to live in one of these cities without being surrounded with liberals and liberal presumptions, and clearly Bartlett has picked up many of them.

  6. MrPaulRevere
    May 5th, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

    I’ve long held that conservatism begins with a certain disposition and then one backfills the policy questions. Michael Oakeshott hit the nail on the head when he said: “To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.” Of course this disposition has nothing (or very little) to do with nationality or region as Oakeshottt was a Brit.

  7. ThePaganTemple
    May 5th, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

     Actually, John Quincy Adams might have been our first what you might call Proto-Progressive President. During his one term, he advocated increased federal spending on a wide variety of projects, including universities and the promotion of a public school system. He even wanted to use federal funds to build an astronomical observatory.

    When he was told many of his ideas had no constitutional basis, he replied to the effect that the constitution should be ignored for the greater good, in effect foreshadowing a later similar statement by President Teddy Roosevelt.

    Jackson is a harder nut to crack. Although he had many conservative ideas in the realm of fiscal policy, and also maintained an aggressive military philosophy, constantly agitating for war with Mexico, he was arguably a Proto-Fascist in a good many ways, notably his treatment of the Cherokee.

    Of course, he needed their gold to shore up the economy in the wake of his Hard Specie Act. It didn’t work, the economy tanked under him in what might have been the worst and longest lasting depression the nation experienced until the Great Depression. It was probably due mainly to the California Gold Rush that it finally ended.

    The best argument against electing a military President to this day can be found on the front of the twenty dollar bill.

    Jefferson also had some radical ideas. In fact, I’m not a big fan of him. He went out of his way to undermine Washington as Secretary of State, and established a friendship with the abominable “Citizen” Genet, coming out as he did at least in tacit support of the French Revolution. I blame him and his followers in large measure for the divisions that eventually led to the Civil War.

    Then of course there have always been those whose ideology could basically be summed up as power and self-aggrandizement. Burr would be an example of this, and arguably Hamilton.

  8. Adjoran
    May 5th, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

    The more concise explanation which I discovered a couple of decades or so ago is “Bruce Bartlett is an idiot.”

    There’s no need or benefit in Fisking Bartlett.  He isn’t worth it.  It’s like writing a critique of bad poetry:  why bother?

  9. Adjoran
    May 5th, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

    Oh, but they used to sell a bumper sticker in Charleston which became rather popular some years back:  “We don’t CARE how you did it up North.”

  10. Mike G.
    May 5th, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

    Yeah, those super highways go north as well as south.

  11. Adobe_Walls
    May 5th, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

    Given the background Stacy gives on Bartlett I’d say his descent into madness, all who follow his current path have descended into madness, (racialism, socialism and the inevitable totalitarianism required to advance these causes) is merely back lashing against those who he feels have wronged him.  Sour grapes make sour whine.

  12. K-Bob
    May 5th, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

    What an idiot Bartlett is.  “Private Schools” are an entirely Northern-based phenomenon.  When I grew up in the south, the only non-government schools available to even the well-heeled were the Catholic schools and the military-style academies (essentially boys schools, and the wealthy boys *never* went there–they were for hard cases, usually, and a threat hanging over your head if you didn’t behave). 

    Anyone in the south with real money had to make do with a very small collection of Southern private academies, or send their kids up North.

  13. K-Bob
    May 5th, 2012 @ 6:54 pm

     Yeah, but we have Thayrone X on the radio, and The Abolitionist’s Roundtable, the Thomas More Law Center, and Ann Arbor’s pretty close to Hillsdale College.  Only the University, schools, and Medical community (all three of which run all the major stuff in town)  are hopelessly leftist.

    Ann Arbor is full of Ron Paul loving potheads, too.

    Bartlett needs to drive out of Ann Arbor sometime, say towards Hell, Michigan.  Only a few miles out of town you start seeing ZERO hybrids and Subarus, and the bumper stickers are more in favor of hunting and monster trucks.

  14. K-Bob
    May 5th, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

     Bring on the denunciations!

  15. Dad29
    May 5th, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

     Dead-on about Indiana, where racism was clearly extant well into the 1970’s.  (Hint:  it was called “Jasper County”)

  16. Deuce Geary
    May 5th, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

    Stacy, you ought to read a piece by Lee Habeeb (a self-described “Jersey boy”) at National Review, “Southern Like Me,” in which he expresses his appreciation of many aspects of Southern culture that drew him to Move to Oxford, Mississippi, and how contrary it is to stereotypes accepted in the north. It is a good read.

    Oh, and . . .Bull Run? As a Southerner, shouldn’t you refer to that as Manassas?

  17. jefferson101
    May 5th, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

    Lewis Grizzard was not a “Humorist”.  Lewis Grizzard was a philosopher of and about the South.  He made enough funnies in the process to keep the Yankees from firing him.

    ‘Nough said.


  18. ThePaganTemple
    May 5th, 2012 @ 10:39 pm

     I wasn’t meaning any insult to Indiana, just noting that the Klan in those days was a nationwide organization of great power and influence all over, not merely in the South as most believe.

    When you get a chance, Google John Stevenson, who was the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, by far the strongest, most powerful branch of the group.

    He was a real piece of work, and in fact he was inadvertently responsible for the Klan’s fall from power. He brutally raped a young woman, to the point where she died some days later in agony. He bit her, even going so far as to bite off a part of her breast.

    When this all got out, during his trial, the Klan was finished as a major power, and never recovered.

  19. Zilla of the Resistance
    May 5th, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

    The guy sounds like just another wind bag egghead, and I don’t care who he used to be. Also, why is it that progs who rail about “Jim Crow” always fail to acknowledge that it, along with slavery, segregation and the KKK are the exclusive property of the DEMOCRATS and have always been – they always either lie and say these things belong to the Republican party (which fought against that shit while the dems fought to preserve it) or neglect to mention what party it came from all together (and that would be the DEMOCRAT party, which is worth repeating since so few ever seem to grasp that fact).

  20. Mark J. Goluskin
    May 6th, 2012 @ 12:42 am

    Bruce Bartlett has been divorcing himself from the Republican party for quite a while now. Some of what he says requires the Broken Clock theory. A broken clock is right twice a day. But I find it rich that he in a windbag kind of way is blaming “polarization” on the South and Southerners. Really? How about having the most vowedly left-wing president at least since FDR in the White House? No, Nixon doesn’t count! Maybe he should have taken a peek at “The Life Of Julia” before this diatribe. At the end of the day, it is the actual policies that the people propose and enact. The Dear Leader is trying to Europeanize the United States. If the South is the resistance, then I say thank God almighty for the South!

  21. Charles G Hill
    May 6th, 2012 @ 1:40 am

    And sometimes some of us without real money, since I did time in both a “Southern private academy” and a Catholic school in South By-God Carolina.

  22. K-Bob
    May 6th, 2012 @ 4:54 am

    They do exist, I know. But they are so common in the northeast that they are the first thing people with any money at all try to get their kids in, before sending them to government schools.

    All sorts of traditions have sprung up around them, too. Especially the good-ole-boy network. And they think “crackers’ have a good-ol-boy network. Think “Skull & Bones” and other sorts of clubs. They go way back into secondary schools, not just college.

  23. Affiliations and Consequences | The Rio Norte Line
    May 6th, 2012 @ 9:00 am

    […] and a characteristic of some northerners that Robert Stacy McCain of  The Other McCain fame calls boreal supremacy: Years ago, when I was living in Georgia, I coined the term boreal supremacy to describe the […]

  24. Charles
    May 6th, 2012 @ 1:27 pm

    The North is littered with stupid Southerners, carpetbagger Elizabeth Warren from Oklahoma being the latest example. The shoe fits more often than you’d like to admit.

    What united the old conservative Southern Democrats with the liberal Northern Democrats was a shared anti-business mindset. That brand of conservatism is not really compatible with the libertarian pro-business roots of the Republican party.

  25. Bob Belvedere
    May 6th, 2012 @ 5:33 pm


    I have always tried to go out of my way to make I sure I mention that everyone of us living today, no matter what their philosophy, has been infected with Leftist thinking.  The only difference is in the degrees.

    It is a daily fight for me because that cancerous thinking has become instinctual, as I’m sure it has for most of the population.  It’s been drummed into our heads our whole lives, everywhere we go, in everything we watch and read and hear.

  26. Bob Belvedere
    May 6th, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

    While being ‘In’ or ‘Out’ certainly plays a part, a bigger part was played by the infusion of the Leftist virus into the American brain.  It undermined all tradition, customs, and Right Reason, and also made ideology alluring.

    Once it became proper to view the world as being governable [in all senses] by ideas and not by experience, the foundational pillars of The West began to crumble.  We began to regress into superstition and emotion-based thinking [‘I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony!’], discarding all prudence and refusing to learn the hard won lessons of experience.  Life became a series of proclamations of Year Zeroes and Year Ones.

  27. Bob Belvedere
    May 6th, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

    Well put.

    I would also argue that Jefferson, to a lesser extent, and Jackson, to a much greater extent, encouraged  belief in America as a Democracy – an idea the vast majority of The Founders militantly opposed, because their readings in history had showed them that Democracy was one of the forms of Tyranny.

  28. Bob Belvedere
    May 6th, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

    Could well be – never underestimate how easy it is to give into such temptations – but, even if true, that does not absolve Bartlett of answering for his dreadful reasoning.

  29. Bob Belvedere
    May 6th, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

    I would complement the great Mr. Oakeshott with this by Russell Kirk:

    …For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.

    The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata. It is almost true that a conservative may be defined as a person who thinks himself such. The conservative movement or body of opinion can accommodate a considerable diversity of views on a good many subjects, there being no Test Act or Thirty-Nine Articles of the conservative creed.

    In essence, the conservative person is simply one who finds the permanent things more pleasing than Chaos and Old Night. (Yet conservatives know, with Burke, that healthy “change is the means of our preservation.”) A people’s historic continuity of experience, says the conservative, offers a guide to policy far better than the abstract designs of coffee-house philosophers….

  30. Bob Belvedere
    May 6th, 2012 @ 5:54 pm

    Stacy was trying, as he always has, to heal the old wounds.

  31. Adobe_Walls
    May 6th, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

    He’s not reasoning, he appears to have lost that capacity.

  32. Quartermaster
    May 6th, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

    When I was in High School (late 60s early 70s), the strongest branch of the Klan was in Ohio. In Tennessee it was a joke. By the time I moved to Ohio in the early 90s, Ohio still had the strongest branch, but that wasn’t saying much by then.

    The one major problem that all of you have neglected that brought on the war of northern aggression was the basic difference between north and south. The north had rapidly industrialized, and crony capitalism was strongly ascendant in the north. The south was still mainly agrarian, with minimal industry, and was an export/import economy. In fact in the 1850s, about 75% of the federal budget came from tariffs in two states, Virginia and South Carolina. Much of the Federal budget was paying for internal improvements in northern states, canals, at first, then subsidized railroads later, and the south got tired of paying taxes to support crony capitalists in the north. Lincoln was rejected by the south because he was a tool of the crony capitalists as well as being a Republican, which began as a left of center party that incorporated the Hamiltonian ideology of the Whigs (The prominent Reps had been Whigs). Lincoln, and the radical Republicans, later enacted Henry Clay’s “American System.”

  33. Quartermaster
    May 6th, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

    The original Klan started as a joke among four unemployed former Confederate junior officers sitting in the waiting room of the law offices of one of their fathers. They pulled all sorts of hijinks and pranks, none of which were harmful. 

    Until, that is, the Yankees decided to force a full blown military occupation on the south. The Klan was still small until that point, then it exploded when some took advantage of the anonymity provided by the original clownish costume and turned it into a resistance movement against the Yankee occupation.

    While there were other organizations, such as Wade Hampton’s “Red Shirts,” and others whose names escape me at this point, the Klan was by far the strongest in the upper south and Alabama. The fight between the Yankee Army and the resistance movements almost set off the war again, except this time as a guerilla fight. Had some in the north not come to their senses, it would have been nastier than anything seen in the previous war, and would not have left the north unscathed this time. The deal over the election of 1876 ended it all and the Klan, with her sister organizations faded away.

    The name was resurrected in 1915, but it was a completely different organization, and it was owned lock, stock and barrel by the Democrats. My wife had relatives that belonged, and in many places it was quite benign (especially in areas that had few Blacks). In the so called “Black Belt” it was anything but benign. Now the same type of people still use Blacks, but as members of the new plantation, and they gain more by doing so than they did by killing and oppressing them.

  34. Quartermaster
    May 6th, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

    Just as the south is littered with stupid Yankees.

    The “Pro-Business” roots of the GOP was actually in crony capitalism.

  35. Bob Belvedere
    May 7th, 2012 @ 9:04 am


  36. Bruce Bartlett
    May 7th, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

    FYI, I wrote a book saying exactly that: “Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party’s Buried Past” (Palgrave Macmillan 2007).

  37. Zilla of the Resistance
    May 7th, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

     Well, if you are really the Bruce Bartlett who Stacy’s post is about, can you tell me if you wrote that before you apparently went all Charles Johnson & decided to join the “Conservatives are stupid evil and racist” club?
    I mean, I understand that you apparently got burned by the Bushies, but a lot of us Conservatives were/are no fans of Bush either; your gripe shouldn’t be with US, but with the RINOtastic establishment elitist jackasses who hurt you – we have a common enemy, so why attack us by using leftist talking points when you could be joining us in bringing down the people who caused your heartache?