Saturday, April 11, 2015

David Blight on the Civil War and modern politics.

David Blight has an article at The Atlantic online news page here:

A quote from the article
Although these contemporary echoes from previous centuries ought not be treated as straight equivalence between past and present, far-right federalists, who dominate the movement called the Tea Party, and who have found a vigorous leadership position at the heart of the Republican Party and on the federal judiciary, have much in common with the secessionists of 1861. Both groups are distinct minorities who have suddenly seized an inordinate degree of power due to congressional districting practices and effective use of conspiracy theories about centralization and the “leviathan” state. One acted in revolution to create and save a slaveholders’ republic; the other seems determined to render the modern federal government all but obsolete for any purpose beyond national defense and the protection of private citizens from having to participate in a social contract with their fellow citizens in tax-supported programs such as Social Security, Medicare, public education, environmental protection, or disaster relief. Both groups claim their mantle of righteousness in the name of “liberty,” privatization, hyper-individualism and racial supremacy (one openly, the other covertly). Both vehemently claim the authority of the “Founders” as though the American Revolution and the creation of the Constitution have no history. Modern-day states’ rightists and sometimes nullifiers embrace versions of federalism that might once have been thought all but buried in the mass slaughter of the Civil War, or in the imperatives of the New Deal’s response to the Great Depression, or in the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights Acts, or in the battle over the Environmental Protection Agency. But history does not end; it keeps happening. The radical wing of the conservative movement in America, still ascendant in Congress and dominant in most of the South, seems determined to repeal much of the twentieth-century social legislation, and even tear up its constitutional and social roots in the transformations of the 1860s. As Americans disturbingly learn, generation after generation, many have never fully accepted the verdicts of Appomattox.
The article did get this negative response from National Review.

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