Every Democrat should read William Rusher’s book, The Rise of the Right (1984). Not because it is an expose of America’s right-wing crackpots, but because it is written by one of the most influential founders of the neocon movement.
He clearly describes how disappointed conservatives were after Goldwater lost the election in a landslide, and how they decided that they wouldn’t be able to win elections in the future if they didn’t change public attitudes toward government and the economics of unregulated free market capitalism. Rusher is quite clear about training “journalists” to be advocates of conservative economic and social policies—rather than to be objective reporters of reality. The Republican “southern strategy” (pitting resentful whites against minorities) is clearly a divisive strategy endorsed by America’s right-wing, as Rusher describes it.
And how did the neocons destroy our traditional American values? By financing professional “verbalizers” who would reframe and publicize economic and social concepts in such a way as to discredit “big government,” the “biased liberal news media,” “pointy-headed intellectuals,” and, in general, all things that benefit middle- and low-income Americans.
It’s surely a fact that many of today’s “conservatives” have no idea of the extent to which the founders of their own movement are really closet aristocrats who don’t believe in a strong and vibrant middle-class, and with a minimum number of citizens in poverty.
Excerpts from The Rise of the Right:
Front page of the dust jacket: “an eye-opening, behind-the-scenes- history of the conservative movement by one of its leading and most outspoken founders. Inside the jacket: “And the political movement Ronald Reagan rode to power is in the full tide of its maturity.
It is equipped with the whole apparatus necessary for survival: think tanks, journals of opinion, legal foundations, a growing youth movement (Young Americans for Freedom), grass-roots organizations, political action committees, journalistic training centers, and schools for political candidates.”
Among the “six canons of conservative thought”: (1) …Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems… (2) Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of traditional life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and equalitarianism and utilitarian aims of most radical systems…. (3) Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes. The only true equality is moral equality; all other attempts at leveling lead to despair, if enforced by positive legislation….
Governmental intervention, especially in its newer forms (e.g. pollution control), is henceforth more likely to be employed principally as a means of hamstringing the hitherto dominant producing class, while the new class of verbalizers tries to establish, through its grip on the realm of ideas a rival and ultimately superior center of power. We have already seen the development in Washington of a corps of verbalizers, based in the media, in certain “think tanks,” and in the more secure echelons for the bureaucracy, which wages war on presidential administrations not to its liking. The score in this contest, which has been going on since the assassination of John Kennedy, is running heavily against the presidents.
But Ronald Reagan has done rather better than his predecessors, precisely because of his prowess as the Great Communicator-i.e., by virtue of his ability, as a verbalizer on behalf of the older social classes, to compete with the new class effectively on its own terms…. At a somewhat longer remove, there is one other battle that the conservative movement must fight and win. As the media will be the battleground of the first, the academy will be the arena of the second. It will be the most important and most difficult battle of them all.
It is, of course, ridiculous to speak of Jimmy Carter as “conservative” in any but the most relative sense. But in politics positions are relative, and in 1976 Jimmy Carter was, with the exception of George Wallace, relatively the most conservative candidate seeking the Democratic nomination. He recognized this by choosing Senator Walter Mondale as his vice presidential running mate, in an obvious effort to balance the ticket….
The most important lesson of 1976, therefore, as that the Republican party’s soundest strategy was to nominate a candidate capable of uniting economic and social conservatives in an anti-liberal coalition. If it failed to do so—if it insisted, as in 1976, on naming a presidential candidate who appealed only to economic conservatives—it would lose to a Democrat capable of repatriating even a portion of the social conservatives.
(Kevin) Phillips, in a dazzling display of erudition and statistics, demonstrated that the Roosevelt coalition was falling apart like the one-hoss shay and that several major components of it were susceptible to Republican blandishment of the proper sort…. Phillips drew some portentous conclusions: The long-range meaning of the political upheaval of 1968 rests on the Republican opportunity to fashion a majority among the 57 per cent of the American electorate which voted to eject the Democratic Party from national power….
The most decisive anti-Democratic voting stream of 1968 was that of the fifteen million or so conservative Democrats who shunned Hubert Humphrey to divide about evenly between Richard Nixon and George Wallace. Such elements stretched from the “Okie” Great Central Valley of California to the mountain towns of Idaho, Florida’s space centers, Rural South Carolina, Bavarian Minnesota, the Irish sidewalks of New York and the Levittowns of Magalopolis….