See what the two main American political parties have become. On any one or more of torture, Guantánamo Bay, mass surveillance, workers’ rights, consumer protection, environmental responsibility, treaties with Native Americans, healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions (that is, people like me), the President’s supposed immunity from indictment, and the President’s supposed power to pardon himself, Brett Kavanaugh could easily have been blocked by enough Republicans and all Democrats, plus Bernie Sanders. But instead, the useless Democratic Party made it about a #MeToo and #IBelieveHer story that it was impossible to prove.
The party of Glass and Steagall repealed Glass-Steagall. The party that put a man on the Moon has become the party that puts a man in the ladies’ room. The eventual party of Civil Rights has regressed to being the party of the lynch mob. I am not going to do the line about the Democratic Party’s having gone “from a chicken in every pot, to a chicken on pot,” because the truth is even worse. Those who had cut their political teeth against the leaders of the own party over Vietnam went on to rampage bare-fanged across the earth in the Clinton years, clearing the ground for those who had had no principled objection to that war, but who had merely dodged the draft because they could afford to, namely George W Bush and Donald Trump.
Over on that side of the aisle, Nikki Haley is now a “moderate”. So much for Eisenhower’s ending of the Korean War, his even-handed approach to Israel and the Palestinians, his nonintervention in Indochina, his denunciation of the military-industrial complex, and his still-inspiring advocacy of nuclear power as “atoms for peace” 10 years after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings: civil nuclear power as the ultimate beating of swords in ploughshares. In 1960, Kennedy branded Eisenhower and Nixon soft on the Soviets.
But then, in 1954, Eisenhower had written to his brother, Edgar N Eisenhower, that:
Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H L Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”
So much for Nixon’s suspension of the draft, his détente with China and with the USSR, and the ending of the Vietnam War by him and by Ford, who went on to sign the Helsinki Accords. So much for Nixon’s openness to the Universal Basic Income even then, and for his declaration that “I am now a Keynesian in economics,” or, as Milton Friedman bitterly put it, “We are all Keynesians now.” So much for Nixon’s belief in wage and price control as surely as in the Clean Air Act and in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, as surely as in the War on Cancer and in the War on Drugs, as surely as in Title IX and in the desegregation of schools in the Deep South.
So much for Nixon’s insistence that the United States should launch no war over the Soviet Union’s treatment of its Zionist dissidents, who have turned out to have been just as unpleasant in their own way as were many other categories of those who happened to dissent from the Soviet regime, and who now constitute a significant obstacle to peace in the Middle East, where they are busily engaged in denaturalising both the Israeli Arabs and the Haredi Jews.
So much for the Nixon and Ford Administrations’ stark contrast to the pioneering monetarism and to the Cold War sabre-rattling of the Carter Administration, which was particularly bad for emphasising Soviet human rights abuses while ignoring Chinese and Romanian ones. Carter, who was not above electorally opportunistic race-baiting, even happily allowed the Chinese-backed Pol Pot to retain control of the Cambodian seat at the UN after Phnom Penh had fallen to the rival forces backed by Vietnam and therefore by the Soviet Union. But Carter, for all his unsung prophetic calls against materialism in general and oil dependence in particular, had had the nerve to brand Ford as soft on Communism for his entirely factual statement that Yugoslavia, Romania and Poland were “not dominated” by the Soviet Union.
So much for Reagan’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 1983, and for his initiation of nuclear arms reduction in Europe, despite the heavy Trotskyist influence over his foreign policy. So much for the condemnation of the Israeli bombing of Iraq in 1981 by Reagan and by almost all members of both Houses of Congress, including many of the most hardline Evangelical conservatives, Cold War hawks or both ever to sit on Capitol Hill. So much for James Baker’s call to “lay aside, once and for all, the unrealistic vision of a Greater Israel” in order to “forswear annexation, stop settlement activity,” and for Baker’s negotiation of the voluntary disposal of all nuclear weapons by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. So much for the Republican opposition to the global trigger-happiness of the Clinton Administration. And so much for George W Bush’s declaration that “Russia is no longer our enemy”, together with his removal of American troops from Saudi Arabia after 11th September 2001.