The Rise of Social Conservatism and Progressivism in America – The Story of Free-Enterprise Small Government Vs. Big Government Progressivism
The Southern Strategy, Vast-Right Wing Conspiracy, and General Republican Sixth Party Strategy that Led to the Modern U.S. Political Parties in their Current Form, and the Related Switches – Explained
By explaining the actions of the Republican Party and American right-wing we’ll also explain the strategies of the progressive left and Democratic party that the right-wing strategy.
That means it will be a long page, but also a very useful page for those who want to understand why their crazy uncle at thanksgiving is foaming at the mouth about PBS (of all things; see an example: “Trump is right to cut PBS/NPR funding. It’s just elitist propaganda anyway“).
The goal will be to help people understand how the American political parties changed from FDR, to LBJ, to Nixon, to Reagan, to Clinton, to Bush, to Obama, leading to odd events like so many on the right believing single-voter issue propaganda-lite (AKA talking points) like “Climate Change isn’t real“, “Obamacare is in a death spiral“, “Trump’s crowd was bigger“, “the pay gap isn’t real“, “a flat tax is better“, “feminism is bad”, “in-person voter fraud is a problem“.
We will, in words, show all the strategy and logic behind the crowds who chant “lock her up” and “drill baby drill”, and thus also explain the progressive talking points like “women get paid 78% on the dollar period” (AKA spin; where Republicans tend to spin hard and flirt with non-truths, liberals tend to pretty up truths).
Thus, this is the story of everything from FDR pulling America in a progressive direction (like LBJ, Clinton, or Obama), to the Democrats of the Southern Bloc, to the southern strategy, the John Birch Society, the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, Norquist, Roger Ailes, Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, Fox News, Reagan, Right-Wing Radio, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, to “a vast right-wing conspiracy” aimed at getting the many different social conservative and establishment conservative factions to adopt each other’s single-voter issue ideologies (each not popular enough to win elections on their own, but in a “Big Tent” a force) and about an unequal but opposite push from the left with its liberal Hollywood, and liberal professors, and liberal hippies, and liberal feminists (get, it?).
It is a story that explains why all these conservative movements teamed up to push-back against the progressives, to save business, and to conserve back to a time when there was no income tax, no protections for the have-nots, less immigration, etc. And yes, of course, we’ll discuss the progressive forces that themselves teamed up to move America in the opposite direction (so BLM, Unions, environmentalists, etc).
This is then the story of the factors that changed the Major U.S. parties, and resulted in what some call “the Big Switch.” This is the story of what Hillary Clinton dubbed “the vast-right-wing conspiracy”.
Or, in a single readable document that will lead you to the story of Ailes, Atwater, and ALEC, this story is about Powell memo politics (where that memo discusses the progressive movement the conservatives are pushing back against)… which is what the documentary below is about.
TIP: Socialism and Fascism were the two main responses to the inequalities of the liberal state. America is a liberal state, and our two-party system represents a left and right stance on social issues (from a liberal foundation). These stances aren’t as extreme as socialism and fascism, nor do either reject liberalism or conservatism fully (we are for the most part Republicans, so to speak), but everything I’ve noted so far is essentially cut from the same cloth, all are reactions to liberalism and progressivism (or are reactions to the reactions), and all are very importantly, despite the strategies, NATURALLY ARISING (for the most part).
The Brainwashing of My Dad Trailer. In other words THIS DOCUMENTARY + a less bias look at the progressiveness the right-wing strategy was reacting to + a discussion of how that changed the political parties over the course of the 20th century = an attempted at an unbiased examination of the changes that led to our polarized political environment here in 2017. Conservatives, I get that this video may feel a little like how “Hillary’s America” feels to a liberal, but the story in the video is pretty accurate from my research (and I don’t see that it has been covered elsewhere in a less left-leaning fashion). Feel free to comment below, any questions or citations will be considered.
NOTE: To be very clear above terms referring to “vast conspiracies” are hyperbolic terms meant to call attention to the coordinated and uncoordinated strategies of progressives and conservatives in America since, lets say, the mid-1800’s (but especially since 1932 and 1964; since the notable social liberals FDR and LBJ “changed America”). Don’t get caught up in the “conspiracy” part, we explain below how it is more mundane self interest and loose coordination than evil plot (on both sides, including by the way on the progressive side, which Powell even notes in his dang memo). Still, all this did happen and it is an important part of history that no doubt will lead to many “ah, ha” moments for those who make it through the article. Forgive any accidental bias along the way, read on, and again feel free to challenge the logic and/or ask questions. We don’t have all the answers, we are researchers and this is a search for truth, not an attempt to feed you talking points… that would ironic to say the least.
TIP: If you don’t care about the full story and just want to confirm whether or not the Southern Bloc switched, or if the Democrats used to be the party of slavery, you can learn more about that on our: The Democrats were the Party of the Ku Klux Klan and Slavery page. If however you want to know about “the vast-right wing strategy that created Fox News, the Alt-Right, and modern Trumpian America” (as a response to progressivism, which is also real), then keep reading and check out the videos.
IMPORTANT: I would say, it is a mistake to get too sidetracked by the Solid south Switch, it is really only a small part of the Republican Sixth Party Strategy. I would also say it is a mistake to treat this all as being about a single thing like “race”, it is about many things and not just prejudice or race (just like Trump’s election was). If this all is about one thing, it is simply progressivism vs. free-enterprise (and globally, very roughly socialism vs. nationalism), race is a very related issue, but it isn’t the core (and if we treat a single divisive voter issue like it is the core instead of seeing the whole thing, all the factions who don’t care about that issue will lose focus). In this way, the current situation is like Civil War politics.
A Quick Introduction to the Article: the 20th-Century Reversal, the Sixth Party Strategy, and the Big Switch
This page discusses what I call “the Sixth Party Strategy” (a term I use to describe everything I just said above).
In other words, this page discusses the changes to the major U.S. parties in the [mostly] later half of the 20th century (from WWII on, but especially from Civil Rights 1964 and Voting Rights 1965 on), and thus includes the story of “the Solid South Switch” and “Southern Strategy” (where the southern bloc starting voting Republican over time post 1964 partly in response to a changing Democratic Party and partly in response to a coordinated Republican strategy), and thus includes the story of the other Big Change of the time (the general increasing social conservatism of the Republican party which pushed back against the increasingly progressive direction of America and the Democratic Party via a Conservative Coalition, which essentially resulted in Fox News, Right-wing Talk Radio, and Trump, and which helps ensure the support of groups like “the Religious Right”).
This then, as said above, is the story of why people chant “lock her up”, why they think “the parties didn’t switch” or “climate change isn’t real“, and generally why they think a lot of things that some on “the social left” would feel are more alternative facts than substance.
It is a story that needs to be told, because it is a story that explains why strange talking points on Fox News become National Politics. No, we will never point directly at the shadow governors, but will instead simply explain the shared coordinated and uncoordinated strategy of others (i.e. you won’t walk away with an enemy, just a better understanding of the modern political matrix; hopefully with a little resistance to propaganda added into the mix).
This is the story of dog whistles, the story of why the right-wing wants to defund the education, science, and the arts (because liberals and progressives are likely to be educators, then you get these progressive schools, and these people don’t work in business, so they push a “socialist” message like Powell says, and the free-enterprise right pushes back, and it only makes sense that those who want specific single-voter issue socially conservative policies would team up, and then Fox News relays the talking point, then Rush spins it, and then at a state level ALEC pushes a law, and then a law firm makes a case, this coordinated and uncoordinated strategy, this is the vast-right-wing strategy responding to the left’s action. Get it? I’ll say it a thousand ways below… because once you get it, you’ll see the Matrix).
NOTE: In the Deep South they often had one party states. Why? Because politics takes lots of funding and, this is going to blow your mind, but there are less aristocrats and oligarchs going to fundraisers in the Deep South than there are in NYC. So the Deep South, like rural America, gets to either take funding from the few big industries in their region or they don’t. Thus, a handful of rural-centered businesses control many of our rural regions. This is at the heart of the disconnect between rural and citied America, historically, especially since after the Civil War with the Bourbons. TIP: See VO Key’s Southern politics in state and nation. So why “Drill baby drill”, well its always going to be more than one reason, but partly because Drill Company X is the main funder of a large portion of rural American politics. I’m not just being a smart-ALEC, this is fact.
This is About Single Voter Issue Factions Teaming Up in a Loosely Coordinated Strategy (Where Shared Ideals, More than Planning, Results in the Changes); That is What we Mean By “Conspiracy”
This vast-right wing conspiracy, this right-wing sixth party strategy, and the progressive [mostly] equal and opposite, isn’t just about one thing.
The conservative coalition of single voter issue socially conservative factions is about so many things it is a little overwhelming.
This isn’t like “conspiring with autocratic Russians or Turks directly”, it is more like shared intentions of sparse allies who seek different ends coordinating and not coordinating. The ends of all might be “less progressivism”, “more nationalism”, and “show liberalism doesn’t work”… but it doesn’t mean there is direct conspiring at every level. Invisible hands and shadow governments are more complex than that, and I don’t blame people for not discussing it, the conspiracy minded love this stuff and they can be rather scary when they fill in the blanks with you.
This isn’t a story of covert darkness as much as it is about that which is natural and in front of our faces.
It is the story of countless stances like being “against science” in general, being for “school choice”, and wanting to defund Medicaid, etc. Each of these hurts the have-nots, they hurt poor rural and citied whites and blacks, they hurt immigrants, and they hurt essentially everyone except the core audience of the right-wing coalition. That isn’t a mistake, and the us vs. them that arises is upsetting I’m sure to many as it is toxic in general.
This isn’t the story of a single focus, this is the story of a mishmash of policies that hurt progressives and their allies, because the policies that help them are “Godless Socialism”, they are “Big Government”, they are “Progressive Feminist Liberal”. Right? Get, it?
Simply, since Bryan, FDR, Kennedy, MLK, LBJ, Clinton, and Obama America has moved in a Progressive direction and Fox News, the Republican Party, and a number of single-voter issue conservative factions have teamed up in a “vast-right wing conspiracy” to take down the heads of the party…. Which of course includes Hillary Clinton.
Considering the “Vast-Left-Wing Conspiracy” and the Fact that these are Naturally Occurring to Some Extent
Above we pointed to Republicans a lot, but clearly the Clintons are part of their own machine. The DNC is a machine, and progressive do fight back with their strategy.
I am not saying they don’t.
The key difference is that the minority factions who teamed up on “team Republican” have been much more blatant, brash, and below the belt.
They have used a level of dog whistles and propaganda that is simply more at the heart of the story than anything else. Once you get the right-wing machine, you’ll get the progressive and left-wing machine, then when you see both forces, you’ll be able (I hope) to see the whole forrest for all the tree.
This shouldn’t be seen as a judgement call, but rather as an important story, with many facets, that requires some scrolling, some reading, and an open mind.
This is a story of a Frankenstein’s monster (a mashup of ideologies) and the invisible hand (arising naturally in response to a changing world, inequality, and perceived political corruption). This is the story of modern media-based polarized politics in the two-party system. This is the story of what changes America, both American political parties, and to some extent global post-World War politics.
The general idea here is that a two-party system demands that each party is a coalition of factions, and the modern “Big Tent” of each party (which are currently divided by left-right social issues) was formed as an advent of this.
The other part of the general idea can be found in the push-backs against liberalism in the 20th century, socialism and fascism.
- Consider: the pro-business right, big oil, the religious right, or any other single-voter-issue “socially conservative” faction isn’t going to have wide support on its own, so that single-voter-issue faction must join a party to form a coalition (or it must reach across the aisle).
- Consider also: while the religious right and big oil have little in common, they both benefit from “small government” and deregulation”.
- Consider also: Progressivism and socialism are by their nature international, inclusive, big government, and want to push toward a modern future. They require funding and science and education. They want equality for all. This creates an opposition.
However, where neocons team up with the further-right (like the socially conservative solid south) in an odd marriage, the Democrats do the same thing.
BLM teams up with worker-minded Unions, and both team up with neoliberals. Sometimes factions who share little in common team up based on single voter issues. And when factions team up, they can be expected to coordinate.
No single voter issue faction is going to win an election on its own, so coalitions must be formed, and in this cycle (in this Sixth or Seventh Party System, those coalitions are based around progressivism vs. free enterprise AKA economy, and social equality vs. social hierarchy AKA social issues).
In America, we have a two party system specifically, and because of that it pushes the parties to form in a specific way. From there it is only natural that each will form strategies given the circumstances.
However, the strategies we are describing below don’t just speak to the need to create a party. They speak to the real coordinated and uncoordinated strategy through which each faction was taught to support the single-voter-issues of the other factions in their party (notably this happens in the Republican party where it can be said, slightly cynically, that they indoctrinate each other with ideas like “climate change isn’t real” and divide their groups from liberals with ideas like “Planned Parenthood uses state funding for abortions”).
Anyway, this story isn’t about demonizing the left or right, it is about call attention to the real forces that created our current polarized party system.
Looking at the Changes Through the Lens of Social Liberal Progressivism vs. Free-Enterprise and Social Conservatism
That introduction was long, but that was because I wanted to introduce ideas broadly and casually while attempting to retain readers.
At this point I’d like to focus on how the rise of social liberal modernization and progressivism (in terms of social issues and economy) in the 20th-century caused a [mostly] equal and opposite pushback from free-enterprise business conservatives and a number of single-issue socially conservative movements (and how it is still happening as we speak… let that sink in).
This push-and-pull resulted in social conservatives and social liberals, who were formally in both major U.S. parties, banding together in two politically polarized Big Tents over the course of the 20th-century (partly due to strategy, partly due to self-interest).
Today, one party is left and one party is right (on social issues), and each party now consists of a populist wing and a business wing. TIP: This is just as much a tug-of-war between social progressivism and social conservatism as it is about Neoliberalism vs. Neoconism.
In other words, it isn’t just about social issues; it is about business interests and the role of the state (although each party almost always mixes its business and social messages in its messaging strategy).
The one thing this all boils down to is Progressivism (in terms of government size, economy, social issues, and general moderation of culture and technology) vs. Conservatism (in terms of government size, economy, social issues, and general moderation of culture and technology) in the social, political, and economic spheres. It is left vs. right in different spheres, each armed with the history of political tactics and access to mass Media, each certain their way of life is being threatened (is it the conservative defunding public television and Medicaid, or is it the liberal taxing to pay for them? It is of course both).
Simply, one side wants to globalize, modernize, and socialize and one wants to conserve back toward a more “free” in some senses Gilded Age. One wants to “progress, socially and liberally” and the other wants to “conservative, socially and liberally”.
When this gets translated into talking points and fed into the media machine (otherwise known as “when it gets turned into political propaganda distributed via mass media”) it sounds like this:
- American Conservatives: Those liberal feminists trying to socialize and redistribute the wealth, “illegals”, “build a wall”, “lock her up”. Social welfare doesn’t work economically. ECONOMICS.
- American Liberals: Those conservative racists voting against their interests and trying to redistribute tax dollars to the rich, trickle down doesn’t work it’s “socialism for the rich”. Social welfare is moral. MORALS.
As you can see from my half-comical example, one side is arguing morals, the other economics (although which is doing which changes per-issue), and like Calhoun and Clay arguing over states’ rights, not only can progressive vs. conservative not agree, but one party is arguing morals and the other economics, and then instead of finding common ground between left-and-right in the political, social, and economic sphere, activist coalitions/factions of law firms, media outlets, political groups, etc (special interest groups) are formed inside and outside of government for the purposes of obstructing the other (something like that right?).
The Invisible Hand, Shadow Governments, and Confirming that Vast Right-wing Strategy is a Better Term than Vast Right-wing Conspiracy
Each side has a coordinated and uncoordinated, natural and unnatural, strategy born from the shared ideologies of many factions which form coordinated and uncoordinated coalitions.
That strategy gets filtered into talking points, be they coordinated Fox News points or rouge Alex Jones points, or be they coordinated NBC points or rouge YouTube liberal points, and then at some point in the future your crazy uncle foams at the mouth talking about liberals, and we look and we see that the parties are polarized.
But what specifically and exactly happened here?
What happened, specifically, seems to real boil down to what Hillary called “the vast-right wing strategy” (and what we can call the “equal and mostly opposite, although I fail to see the left-wing Alex Jones in practice even with my unbiased hat on, vast left-wing strategy”).
They aren’t fully “conspiracies”, as much as they are natural reactions of the left and right in the face of modernization paired with the concept of “the invisible hand” (the shared interest of many producing results that seem planned; like the advent of Alex Jones).
It is like how, agitated by the fact that the new GOP House budget cuts funding for so many things I care about (but especially public television) I skipped checking my Obama phone and microwave for a text from the man himself and jumped right into this article. I did read the news this morning, and the talking points and real actual points did effect me, but there was no direct coordination. That is how the invisible hand works, and that network of influencers and informers is the shadow government… but behind these shadows also sit real people in real coordinated strategy, and Fox News is emblematic of that. There they not only doing everything I’ve talked about, but actually push out Mort Downey Jr.-like talking points meant for the purposes of influence (propaganda) as well. To the extent they don’t do this directly, they have indirectly helped to create a rouge culture that does. This is where the extreme complexity that creates a long page comes in.
The thing is, Grover Norquist, Roger Ailes, Lee Atwater, Karl Rove are all proof of this, while on the other hand I can only point with a weak wrist over at NBC or CNN in general for the left version. Is it that the left-wing strategy is more vast? Or, is it, what I fear, that the right-wing strategy is more lowbrow, Machiavellian, and cut-throat?
The problem here isn’t the intetions behind a figure like Powell, it is a more practical issue. It is that One can’t defeat that which occurs naturally.
The left and right are natural, to want progress is natural, to fear change is natural, to be a democrat, timocrat, or oligarch is natural, and for the business class to struggle to override the social liberal message is natural, it is no mystery why socially conservative factions have to band together, the problem is that underhanded tactics offended American values.
This is to say, before we dig more into the problem, the solution is simple.
More democratic and republican tactics are needed (tactics that respect the natural progressive and conservative spirits, not one that seeks to crush one or the other like a despotic tyrant; Powell knew this, but someone along the way in the fight against progressivism forgot.)
If the oligarchs “save America” by destroying progressivism, they have saved nothing. 1900 will turn again to 1912, then to 1932, and then to 1964 (if we are lucky enough to have the chance with our nation only fighting at 1/2 force).
Oh, Great a Summary Mid-Way Down a Long Page
Without further ado, we can boil this all down to:
- A face-off between progressivism and free-enterprise in the 20th-century resulted in what we call the modern Democratic and Republican parties of the Sixth [and from some perspectives] Seventh Party systems (of the late 1960’s forward; although the changes happen slowly over time).
- At the heart of this “big switch” is what I call “the Republican Sixth Party Strategy” (of which the “Solid South Switch” and other switches are in large part a result of). AKA the one that results in Fox News.
- Noting that, of course, a Conservative Coalition and Strategy in the Republican party is only 1/2 of the story, the other half of the story is of course the [mostly] equal and opposite actions and reactions of the political left, the New Deal Coalition, and a coordinated and uncoordinated “liberal strategy” (what the right-wing strategy is pushing back against).
This is to say, the main topic here is the policies, activism, and strategy that spurred on the progressive and conservative movements of the 20th century including the formation of the new socially conservative and business conservative right-wing coalition.
Ultimately the goal will be to discuss this from the center, but with that said, there will be an extra finger wagging at some of the tactics used by the right (which by some real measures are more troublesome than those of the left). Despite that truism, the main point here is to describe history, not to play biased party politics.
In other words, to whatever degree I let bias slip in by focusing on the Republican strategy below, try to read past it and offer feedback, this page and site is an attempt and truth and is work in progress, not an ideological stick to beat a single side over the head with.
With that note, I realize this essay is a little long and winding at the moment, I’ll refine it, but really watch the videos below and read the Powell memo. That is the point.
TIP: Each big tent has major rifts in practice but keeps a pretty consistent message regardless. For example, many Republicans are protectionists, but they ally with Free-Trade Free-Enterprise Freedom Caucus Libertarians on social issues. On a normal day they share talking points, but when it comes to policy, they have to square off the fact that they don’t really share policy stances. Likewise, Bernie and Hillary don’t exactly agree on neoliberal third-way economics and fair trade worker first progressivism. It isn’t only the strategy that changes the parties; it is the wants, wills, and actions of individuals, groups, and parties. The term BIG TENT could not be more appropriate when describing the Sixth Party factions within the two lockstep parties which the machines propagandize.
NOTE: We can call the conservative strategy a “vast right-wing strategy” (as Hillary Clinton suggested; see video below) and we can equally and oppositely call the progressive strategy the “vast left-wing conspiracy” (as Powell suggests in his famously damning Powell Memo). Hyperbole aside, this is the story of the coordinated and uncoordinated strategies of the left-wing and right-wing coalitions that polarized the modern parties as a response to increasing progressivism and neoliberalism in the west after the World Wars. This is all real and happened, but “conspiracy” is a heavy handed word, as I’ve said a few times now, it is largely natural “invisible hand” self-interest at work here.
What Do We Mean By “Big Switch”?
To be clear, since there are a number of difference switches in American history:
The Big Switch describes “the Solid South Switch” and the larger “Sixth Party Switch” (the other Big Switch) that resulted in the voter map flipping in the 20th-century. The switch itself is a result of the coordinated campaign above that resulted not only in a switch, but advents like Fox News, Right-wing Radio, and all those conservative think tanks and law firms.
This page is about every aspect of this overarching switch from the strategies of both parties to how it relates to global politics.
TIP: We call it “a switch,” but not everything changes. What does and doesn’t change is complex, and it is all made way more complex by the talking points of each general party (which often seek to draw a constant line of connectedness between all of America’s greats and their current party members and platforms; reality is far from being that simple).
TIP: The videos below explain the basics of party switching, see a larger essay on party switching here (major switches happen in the late 1700’s and over the course of the 1800’s, this page is only discussing 1900 forward. It’ll be easier to see how the Sixth Party Strategy fits in if you have some background on the general changes and the party’s old forms (when conservatives and liberals were in both parties).
From white supremacy to Barack Obama: The history of the Democratic Party. The KKK used to be Democrats, and now they aren’t, not after the effects of the Solid South switch and Southern Strategy. Part of the overarching Sixth Party Strategy was the Solid South being one of the larger socially conservative factions in America due to their one-party history at a state level as expressed in VO Key’s works.
How the Republican Party went from Lincoln to Trump. In a sentence: The Republican party used to be the party of Lincoln, but Teddy’s exit, Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, and the conservative coalition and Sixth Party Republican strategy changed that.
TIP: We disagree with and debunk the logic of videos like “Dinesh D’Souza Destroys Liberal Professor On The Switch.” I will do a page debunking the alt-right version of the switch specifically at some point as they conflate the wage-slavery oligarchical north and northern progressive Democrats with the Socially Conservative Confederate chattel slavery south. However, my main focus is on compiling truth right now (not debunking what I consider to be misunderstandings of history). If you read all our switch pages, you’ll have the ammo to debunk or confirm D’Souza on your own, for now, we won’t be addressing his points directly, just giving a recount of modern history. Do a site search for “switch” if you want.
The Sixth Party Strategy that Largely Created the Modern Right
That Sixth Party Strategy is, in many ways, is what resulted in entities like Fox News and Right-wing radio, entities like the Tea Party, the Heritage Foundation, and ALEC, and what resulted in Presidents like Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Trump.
It is only natural (such is the nature of self-interest) that socially conservative factions would band together in the face of an era of progressive action that pushed America toward socialization, modernization, and globalization.
To the degree that modernization means a single-voter-issue faction is being pushed out of the political sphere, it only makes sense that they would find a coalition rather than going out to pasture. Who could expect less?
The thing is, these factions didn’t just band together naturally, they were pulled toward a unified Republican center by a specific strategy that was a response to both FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society.
This strategy and its related “conservative coalition” was the conservative reaction to the progressivism of the 1900’s forward, and especially with the Solid South Switch considered, from 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights forward.
There may be one coordinated group which shares all the same values naturally.
Instead, this is to say it is a coalition of socially conservative movements, regarding a range of social issues, who were all getting “left behind” by modernization, and who banded together to create an often-but-not-always unified strategy over time, and this is at the core of what we are discussing (along with the left’s equal and opposite reaction).
This is all well symbolized by two American coalitions, the New Deal Coalition and Conservative Coalition, but it also speaks to the Fascist vs. Communist left-right divide of the World War eras, speaks to the modern neoliberal globalist vs. nativist protectionist divide, speaks to the left-right polarization of the major U.S. political parties in terms of social issues, and speaks to the general elite vs. populist global split between the modern Western left and right here in 2017.
In other words, this complex story is at the heart of modern global western political polarization (in some direct and indirect ways).
This is a difficult subject to discuss. Bear with me as I try to discuss this from a perspective that respects the natural left and right while calling out tactics used by some. This makes the page much longer than “watch the documentary The Brainwashing of My Dad and get over the liberal bias as it explains this all in jovial humanist video form.”
The Pledge: Grover Norquist’s hold on the GOP. The coordination doesn’t just happen in one era or with one faction; it happens over time from the 1900’s – 1930’s – the 1960’s – today. However, we can see it in things like Grover Norquist’s tax strategy that is followed by right-wing media in a message, entities like ALEC in legislation, and Congressional Republicans in action. Do you call it “a vast right-wing conspiracy” or do you call it “coordinated and uncoordinated self-interest of different factions pushing back against modern liberalism.” I would suggest thinking of it as both things at once. Either way, it is at the heart of the 20th-century reversal. The second you “get it,” is the second you can start doing your own research and bringing back points to this article via comments.
TIP: The page hasn’t been biased so far, so where does the bias come in? It comes in because, for whatever good or bad the left does, part of the right-wing strategy was one of selling “anger.” To get many socially conservative movements to band together, one has to sell each ideology on the other’s ideology. One way this can be done is by using anger in place of facts and selling a section of right-wing America ideology based on anger rather than information. The left does this by selling empathy, sympathy, and overly simple moral points, and we can see both in a topic like Trump’s Travel ban (where the creamy truth-y center is often obscured by anger-based or empathy-based talking points). The key difference is the left roots their propaganda in fact and then skews it, while some on the right have resorted to a “slightly more grey-or-black hat” tactic seen in figures like Rush Limbaugh, who mixes disinformation, misinformation, and anger to sell an emotion as politics rather than fact. That difference is more than subtle, is pretty far from “fair and balanced,” and it has notably had a bit of a corrosive effect on our culture. Is that totally different from “the Young Turks” or “Daily Kos?” Probably not, but it isn’t “exactly the same.” So, this is like pointing three fingers at the right and two at the left, not like calling the left “holy saints of social justice” and the right “evil nationalist nativist and southern villains.” No, each party and each naturally occurring ideology has its sticking points. Let us be clear on that.
The Loudest Voice in the Room: How Roger Ailes Built Fox News – And Divided a Country. Since we are talking about “the switch” we have to talk about how people like Roger Ailes coordinated a strategy to “divide the country.” There is no one player, but this is 100% part of the story. How do I express this without being political? That is the question.
TIP: This isn’t, on the left or right, “a conspiracy” (as I’ll detail below it is part coordinated strategy, part loosely coordinated self-interest, and part completely uncoordinated individual action arising not out of political convention but out of naturally arising self-interested positions on single voter issues). It is a misreading to see a coordinated neoliberal Obama strategy between the entire global left, and the same is true for the right. There has been coordination, but, in practice, each major party is just a coalition of self-interested factions who agree and coordinate. Yes, the GOP seems very lockstep at points, but at times so do the Democrats. It isn’t “exactly the same,” but there is enough “same” not to be able to absolve one and fully condemn the other.
The Bad Boy of Washington: Lee Atwater – Southern Strategy (1997). Here is another perspective from Karl Rove predecessor Lee Atwater. This part speaks more to the Southern Strategy which is its own unique thing that helps explain the literal switch that some ex-Democrats like the social conservative Strom Thurmond made leading up to the Nixon era after Civil Rights and Voting Rights.
TIP: Think about it: big business, anti-abortion, big-tobacco, pro-segregation, polygamy, and big-oil aren’t popular on their own, and they can’t win a popularity contest. However, they can band together and pool resources as part of an influence campaign designed to increase the party’s voter-base. Then when the incentive is there, a Rush arises “as if by an invisible hand.” Then Rush, or Alex Jones, or anyone who knows how to wield propaganda techniques like the bed of nails, goes out and seeks revenue and fame over truth. Rush actually explained his strategy of using anger as a form of propaganda, and he was a useful ally to the establishment right in this sense.
Notes to Keep in Mind as We Discuss the Changes
With the basics eluded to, for those in for an in-depth read:
There are four things one should keep in mind while reading to avoid buying into the anger economy and becoming polarized. “The anger economy” is what Rush sells when he yells, for example. The idea is that emotion sells ideology as an influence tactic.
- The left has been modernizing the West, and specifically America, since about 1900, pushing for “neoliberal” and “progressive” policies such as Civil Rights, Income Tax, safety net programs, global trade, global finance, general “globalization,” etc. Some aspects of this are planned in secret, sure, but it is usually accomplished by coordinated self-interest and done openly. Ex. LGBT people want civil rights; people fighting for those human rights form coalitions; they lobby left-leaning politicians; they band together with other left groups. This creates a “vast left-wing strategy.” The right-wing coalition forms and strategizes in opposition.
- Especially after WWII, the global and American socially conservative “right-wing populist” and establishment “neocon” right has formed a “mostly equal and opposite” coordinated conservative coalition and related right-wing strategy. This is the “right-wing” machine of media, politicians, think tanks, law firms, etc. that we can see in Fox News, Right-wing Radio, Rush Limbaugh, John Birch Society, ALEC, the ObamaCare lawsuits, the anti-Clinton and Obama rhetoric, etc. to push back against the “Progressive Neoliberal agenda.” This coalition, and the equal and opposite liberal coalition, was one of the major causes of the 20th-century reversal, both the Solid South Switch and other “Big Switches.”
- Part of the strategy of the left and right is coordinated in secret (AKA, speaking loosely, a conspiracy), and part is just Adam Smith’s self-interest and “the invisible hand.” In other words, it isn’t just a “vast right-wing conspiracy” or “vast left-wing conspiracy.” Part of this is the uncoordinated self-interest of many different individuals and factions in action, sometimes nudged forward by what Bernays called “a shadow government.” This shadow is composed of influential people scattered around in different markets that aren’t fully coordinated; it is “shadow” or “invisible” as in being both unseen and in there often being no direct coordination. It is self-interest-in action.
- This can all be seen as a natural tug of war between modernization and tradition, of left vs. right, and conservative vs. liberal. To what extent the tug-of-war is natural, is to the extent that a Democratically-minded Republic is meant to temper it. However, to what extent this is an unnatural coordinated strategy that uses propaganda to brainwash the masses into buying into fringe talking points, that is something that is not “equal and opposite” or within the bounds of fair play, good faith, or reason. In my opinion, the “anger economy” tactics that use misinformation to push for fringe policies are specifically prevalent on the right-wing and have been edging the American and global political vibe toward a type of neo-fascism (more so than the left is edging everyone toward Communism; and anyway, fighting Communism with Fascism really goes against the core of America’s values).
In other words, what changed the major parties is partly just a natural tug-of-war between modernization and conservatism and partly a coordinated strategy that used a few shady tactics.
Historically speaking the natural arising forces are complicated enough, but the coordinated propaganda campaigns and fringe political factions vying for power have historically had a nasty effect on the west.
For example, we have seen this gambit play out a few times in history already to awful effect: during the Civil War, World Wars, and in modern times over the War in the Middle East and immigration.
Natural and natural effects aside, the overarching Sixth Party Strategy led to a few major “switches” in terms of the American political parties (and in some ways the global left and right) and had thus gone from strategy to a large part of American and Western history in the modern era.
At the core of the switch is both a naked portrait of human left-right politics as they respond to modernization and political, economic, and social inequality and, the responses of coordinated misinformation campaigns.
While the left is hardly innocent, the underlying Grover Norquist, Roger Ailes, Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, strategy is a main feature of this story. It is the one constant at the heart of the story outside of general progressivism and neoliberalism which it sees as its enemy. It thereby makes an enemy out of the larger portion of half the globe, with that being one of its major sticking points.
TIP: Below I try to remain unbiased, but know I fall short in some places. Feel free to call out any point I make and comment below with fact or logic based rebuttals; the end goal is truth, not the swaying of viewpoints. Part of the problem here is that I know way more about the right-wing conspiracy than the left-wing one. I can point to the Powell memo but lack an equal and opposite Sanders post-it. To be fair, the Powell memo describes “the vast left-wing conspiracy” which the “vast right-wing conspiracy” is fighting back against.
Noam Chomsky on “Powell Memorandum,” Student Debt, and Occupy.
NOTE: To help show I’m not just giving left-wing talking points texted to me on my Obama phone or something, compare what we say to Dems Laying Basis For Coup D’État By Hitting Sessions by Dick Morris or see our other such links below. I want the reader to see all sides here. I want the facts understood so we can all work together to safeguard our Republic. I’m not trying to change people’s politics, although no one is going to rush to defend politics that alienate them, right?
A Summary of “the Big Switch” and the Related “Vast Righting-Wing Conspiracy” Hillary Clinton Spoke About
From the Progressive era to today, right-wing groups of all sorts have banded together to push back against Communism and the American and global left-wing. This is a coordinated strategy to push back against globalization, the income tax, social programs, civil rights, etc.
And of course, the opposite is true, the socially liberal left-wing groups mostly banded together in response.
Even though the left-wing groups tell an important part of the story, we will be focusing on the right-wing groups, as they are the primary cause of the switch (the main subject of the page).
I know that focusing on the right-wing can seem “biased,” and I see how focusing on social conservatism can seem biased. Feel free to offer logic or citation based rebuttals below.
The core idea of this site is to dig towards truth by sharing information and making persuasive fact-or-logic based arguments. The point isn’t to beat anyone over the head with ideology.
With the above noted, to understand what happened to the political parties in the 20th-century, you have to understand the collective self-interest of a number of socially conservative movements and the general pro-business right.
For a myriad of different reasons, a number of right-wing groups not able to win elections on their own single-voter issues banded together in a coordinated strategy under figures like Grover Norquist, Roger Ailes, Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, etc. This by no means being an exhaustive list.
These groups didn’t share every stance on every single-voter issue, but they did all agree that they wanted to push-back against what today we call globalization and neoliberalism, and economically they all agreed in wanting “small government” and being against “Communism” (AKA the social safety net, globalization, and the income tax AKA “the vast left-wing conspiracy”).
These right-wing groups collectively and generally want to go back to or “conserve” past eras like 1775, the late 1800’s Gilded Age, 1900, or 1950, or an era when America was “Great.” For example, the John Birch Society mentality that figures like the Kochs subscribe to and which is emblematic of this conservative coalition mentality wants to conserve back to 1900 specifically.
Generally the idea is to conserve back to an era where businesses had few rules, when there was no income tax or safety net, [for some] when women couldn’t vote, [for some] when segregation wasn’t a big issue, [for some when] things were just “more traditional” and less “globalized,” and [for some] when the poll tax ensured only “real” Americans voted.
Part of the problem (in terms of presenting this without bias) is that, for example, a Social Conservative Southerner and a Big Oil Baron hardly agree on every issue. They agree on 1900, but not on what that means or what they want to get out of it. So, when I say “segregation,” those who don’t subscribe to that aspect of the ideology will, I’m sure, accuse me of bias. This is the push back I get when I try to discuss Lincoln for example. I know that few Republicans support segregation or slavery. I’m explaining the force that tries to lure some to support closely related policies and to get upset when a liberal view is discussed. NOTE: Please keep in mind I’m trying to see this from the center here and respect all America’s factions in all wings.
So here, with everything else said, I’ll note two things:
- Generally, most of these factions agree on one single thing. That is, they want to “conserve” back before Communism. We can say loosely that they consider Communism an emblem of all the modern left progressivism and Big-Government politics of figures like FDR, LBJ, the Clintons, and Obama. Today this translates into being against “Big Government,” against globalization, and against “neoliberalism” too. We can see this in Tea Party rhetoric and recent rhetoric from the alt-right, Breitbart, and Bannon [AKA the populist right] as well (for example).
- Part of what we are calling out here is the idea that these different single voter issue factions don’t share stances on each voter issue, but a “propaganda campaign” or “strategy” was implemented by figures like Norquist, Ailes, Atwater, and Rove (famous right-wing strategists) to get the general right-wing to buy into each other’s stances on issues and band together under “a Big Tent.” The idea being that this would create a strong conservative message that could win elections out of little movements that couldn’t win elections on their own. Many groups saw “their America” slipping away since the Progressive era; this is the pushback. There isn’t “one bit of evidence,” but rather the entire current global system is essentially evidence. Almost everything that happens politically is arising from this! Almost all the page traffic we get on issues from Lincoln, to voting rights, to party switching has this story at the core. This is why I wrote about it; if not American history doesn’t even make sense.
FACT: The above is what Hillary Clinton called “the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.” That is a fact about Clinton, not a fact about conspiring. We have already explained how it is more complex than just “a conspiracy” while arguably meeting the definition.
The Best Symbol for all These Complex and Thorny Discussions is the New Deal Coalition and Conservative Coalition
This whole thing is perhaps best symbolized by the New Deal Coalition and Conservative Coalition. Two factions, one left and one right, both notable, both with agendas helped polarize the modern political parties along a left-right divide since the 1930’s. This included small-government anti-communist Republican Hoover and big-government socially liberal Democrat FDR.
Those coalitions had an effect on America from the 1930’s on. After World Wars, after Kennedy, and finally after LBJ’s 1965 Voting Rights Act, the real changes took place. This was once black people could vote freely. Who has ever heard of an African American fascist who wants to conserve back to 1900? See a history of black suffrage).
Here I want to note the “segregation” issue again, this is “about race,” and there is a famous socially conservative position on race in America. However, this is also just a practical matter of votes. If team A has way more voters, team B is going to realize they need to band together or they will be modernized out of government. That is what is at the core, and why a single, divisive issue can get such wide support. It isn’t from the single issue voter who cares more for economy directly; it is a coalition of single-issue social conservative movements that agree they don’t want to be rolled over by the neoliberal machine and have chosen some questionable tactics to fight back.
Starting in the late 1960’s, a number of socially conservative right-wing groups organized a new Conservative Coalition of sorts. They implemented what one might call a “Third Red Scare” propaganda campaign. Here the RED isn’t Russia; it is socialism in any form, which is generally seen by the right as “Communism.”
The campaign (partly organized by the fringe group “the pro-business establishment right” who has a great message, but, to re-summarize here, not the kind that gets 60 million votes and partly organized by a new more radical John Birch Society anti-Communist socially conservative right-wing) was aimed at banding together fringe socially conservative movements (like anti-abortion, big oil, anti-LGBT, segregationist, etc) and creating a strong singular right-wing message aimed at normalizing right-wing views and defeating the American left and what they consider Communism.
They are, speaking with a little drama here, at war. They consider the left to have taken over our country with figures like Obama, and in this war they decided that using propaganda to manipulate people was OK (at some level they accepted figures like Morton Downey Jr. in the “war” against “Big Government“; they said, on some level, “hey, if it takes a Rush Limbaugh, then that is what it takes”).
On some level, they said, “facts can be alternative-facts and that Fox News can sell anger instead of information if that is what it takes to save our country from neoliberal globalization and socialization.”
Perhaps I’m hyperbolic to make a point here, but how else do you explain the entire right-wing information machine from Fox News to Right-Wing Radio?
It comes from a valid place, but it does not use pure tactics. We may say this about the left and some MSM, but it is particularly prevalent on the right.
No one is going to tell you that Rush and Hannity offer pure information and it’s hard to point out an equivalent on the left. Is Rachel Maddow’s message comparable to Rush’s message? Neither one is C-Span, but I feel as though there is a noticeable difference in tactics.
On some level it clear that Rush is often selling emotion over fact, just as Morton Downey Jr. did.
We can point to think tanks and to law firms that follow this message lock-step; can we point to the legislators that follow the message lock step as well?
Again, it isn’t that Maddow doesn’t sell emotion to some degree, it is that the left-wing doesn’t tend to go as far as saying things like, “Obama is a Communist Muslim from Kenya.”
A statement like that isn’t even a well-intentioned half-truth; it is conspiracy oriented anger-tinged propaganda.
My opinion is that this is “worse” than the left-wing version, but my opinion and my facts are not the same things.
I think we can say it is “a fact” that what Rush does is different than Maddow, but an opinion that is selling anger and lies (the low-brow tactic of the right) is worse than selling empathy and cherry-picked truths (the low-brow tactic of the left).
That is the subtle difference between the two, and I think one had a larger effect on the parties, but in thinking about it, I have to concede that it is both forces that change the parties.
Knowing that this is partly a matter of uncoordinated self-interest aside, the consistent nature of the tactics (and general documented proofs) hint that there must be coordination.
How else would the entire right-wing House and Senate know to stand lock-step and in a loosely coordinated message with every entity from ALEC, to Fox News, to Alt-Media? We hardly expect that everyone is fully coordinated, but there must be some coordination.
You can see where there is a lack of coordination, but you can see where there are consistent talking points between entities and an overarching coordinated agenda too.
We are discussing both the coordinated and uncoordinated action because we care about the effect.
The effect is the polarizing of the American political parties. They are polarized by left-right as well as by the rise of this new form of socially conservative nativist nationalism which is pitted against neoliberalism and progressivism. It looks too much like fascism not to call out (in other words, rising to fight the perception of fascism is just as natural as banding together to push back against the perception of Communism; anyone who understands one viewpoint must concede the other; yet that is not a justification for grey or black hat tactics).
TIP: Here we can look at the neoliberal and progressive left machines and see they are both coordinated and uncoordinated and the right-wing theories on this. If I went on this tangent, it may help to win back a few on the right and alienate a few on the left. However, it is divisive tactics that I’m calling out here. The brazen tactics on the right are a little better documented and transparent. I’m fishing for information; I don’t have to prove a conspiracy on the left. Consider, most right-wing media discuss what they perceive as a liberal conspiracy at length (example 1, example 2). I’m trying to show that “the vast right-wing conspiracy” of the conservative coalition isn’t unrelated to the “conspiracy of the left.” I have documented proof of the tactics of the right; I speculate about the tactics of the left; neither is the main point of the page itself.
Hillary Clinton and the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
In the 1990’s Hillary Clinton tried to warn everybody about the right-wing machine that was attacking her, calling it “a vast right-wing conspiracy.”
However, since the main target of the “conspiracy” is Hillary herself, it is hard to confirm that message (most sources use that term to post about something else, thus detracting from its meaning).
Literally, Hillary Clinton, a liberal woman who supports Civil Rights and the Global Left is their main target in many respects (again, collective self-interest and coordinated effort, not masterfully planned conspiracy).
Just think of all the anti-Hillary talking points since the 1990’s. The proof of what we are explaining here is everywhere. If there were no strategy against Clinton, there would have been less coordination. However, at the root is collective self-interest, so only so much actual planning is needed.
The socially conservative, hand-crafted, and propagandistic message and the coordinated and related actions drive the modern right-wing machine. They resulted in both “the Big Switch,” and most of the modern right-wing American ideology that has now pervades the globe (consider Brexit and Le Pen).
Part of this is just a natural response to globalization, immigration, and modernization that is felt by many western nations, but part of this is a purposeful propaganda campaign that uses anger and lies to push for exclusive nationalist populist policies. We used to call this fascism; that is troublesome.
Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. You see, right-wingers don’t just dislike Hillary based on personal preference, they have been browbeaten with a focused anti-Clinton propaganda campaign since the 1990’s. It isn’t like Democrats don’t go after figures like Trump; it is that they don’t use that lowest brow of tactics “the blatant lie.” That difference is significant.
The Brainwashing of My Dad Trailer. This is a documentary about the conspiracy. It leans left and leaves out the idea that the fringe socially conservative beliefs at the core of this are real. Propaganda isn’t OK; lying isn’t OK; trying to crush the American left isn’t OK and of course, trying to crush the right isn’t OK. Being Democratically for some policy from the 1900’s or for some utopian policy is the right of an individual or group in a free society. We need to respect all these truths.
Wait, You Are Saying the Right-Wing Talking Points are Coordinated Propaganda and Not News?
Yes, I am saying figures like Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh were created (directly and indirectly via incentive) by a giant right-wing propaganda machine that formed under figures like Norquist and Roger Ailes, as is evidenced by documents like “the Powell memo.”
While we have to note this machine was created in response to what they considered “a liberal machine,” a tit-for-a-tat doesn’t explain anything away.
With the problems of both sides noted, we can point out that it is clear that not every move is coordinated. There is a mix of self-interest and coordination between factions who agree on some ideology but mostly have their own ideologies and agendas. This is like the difference between Paul Ryan, the Freedom Caucus, Cato, Ted Cruz, and the Blaze; sometimes they all jump on the same talking point, often they butt heads.
All complexities and naturally occurring aspects aside, simple proof of the basics of this being true include Morton Downey Jr. and early footage of the above figures. They all, at one point or another, admitted they were doing satire and propaganda. Now they present it as a fact, but they used to admit, in some settings, that it was designed to make people angry, not informed. That is propaganda; be it political, a thing of rating seeking, or both.
In fact, as a general note, part of the whole problem is the use of slippery words. Much information is being presented ambiguously to make people think it is fact when it is really half-truth or opinion mixed with emotion. This is true for both sides of the aisle.
Putting aside the left-wing machine, the story of the right-wing machine and the rise of right-wing media is one that helps explains why your uncle is outraged by Democrats to unreasonable extent; why your friend thinks taxation is theft; and why we hear chants “lock her up.”
It is a purposeful socially conservative right-wing strategy against the modern left, by ideologies who felt threatened by modernization. This includes figures in all walks of life and in all branches of government (any figures elected on a sort of “Fox News” message).
So this isn’t theoretical, it is in action as we speak.
If you look, you’ll spot both the left-wing and right-wing versions. You’ll see how they are different in some ways and not in others. Knowing that both parties used to have socially conservative and socially liberal factions, you’ll get a good sense of what has changed.
We are calling out tactics more than people or their underlying ideologies here. To what extent the left or right works together in their own interest without resorting to grey-or-black hat tactics is to what degree their action is within the bounds of reason. However, to whatever degree the left and right radicalize against each other is the speed with which we start down a slippery slope.
We are questioning the idea of fighting Communism with Fascism or Fascism with Communism. Fighting extremes with extremes does not lend support to any fringe ideologies that fly in the face of true American liberalism. We are defending this; our site is, if anything, annoyingly centered toward left-right American liberalism AKA Americanism).
One has to also acknowledge that all animals trapped in a corner will lash out, that is natural for both left and right political animals to fight.
One has to acknowledge that not everyone wants modernization, and that is natural.
However, I don’t see how any “real American” can concede to the fringe left or the right to the degree that it becomes aggressive and requires the undoing of our basic Constitutional rights. Bias noted.
When discussing this switch, we must discuss the conspiracy, when discussing the conspiracy, we must be careful to wag a finger at the tactics while respecting those who believe the core ideology or even a spun version they have been indoctrinated with.
We can’t confuse the valid politics of small groups who struggle to win elections with the invalid and UnAmerican techniques they use to manipulate public opinion (techniques that go beyond what even Bernays would have done or what the left does in practice).
TIP: Conspiracy is a heavy word. It means “planning in secret.” I’m not sure how secret the Norquist meetings were, what happened in the backrooms of Fox News, or how Rove and Atwater operates. We can say, it was a bit of conspiracy which has recently (over the last decade) been brought out into the light. Learn more about conspiracy theories. Here we don’t need to do much theorizing as their tactics have been well documented and are low-brow enough to have simple to spot effects (like people believing that climate change isn’t real or that ObamaCare is socialism). In other words, the right-wing talking points and alternative facts are part of the proof; the rest are these brazen leaders on camera and official document discussing their Southern Strategy and their Big Switch Strategy (although that is my term, not their’s).
TIP: The documentary below has enough proof to back up every claim I make, each claim is also easy to research.
NOTE: The left uses tactics too, the difference is they don’t zero in on a fake talking point designed to do things like abolish the IRS and take us back to 1900, and then use that lie to manufacture anger and to turn a mob against the other party. The left does have its tactics; they just use higher brow methods rooted in truth and reason (which is democratic and within the bounds of ethics in a voting Republic). The information below should make you angry, but that anger should be directed at fibbers and manipulators, not the political views or demographics behind the leaders. All one can reasonably ask of the New Conservative Coalition or “Big Tent” within the right-wing Republican Party is to 1. Not based campaigns on lies and emotion 2. Respect that the Social Liberal Left, global or local, cannot and will not go away. WWII didn’t stop Communism or Fascism, the left and right are naturally occurring, and fringe movements always become extreme when they turn toward extremism. The right may think “Communism” is a threat, but when they become Fascist as a response, it solves nothing.
NOTE: The strategy we reference started back before many were born or political. I assume most right-wingers who subscribe to at least one of the ideologies in the coalition grew up in an environment where they didn’t know they were being manipulated. Of course, aspects of your core beliefs can be right even if you are being manipulated. Things are complex. Just because someone toes a line doesn’t mean they know they are toeing it. We don’t need to accuse anyone of anything; we just need to present truths, facts, and real information. Learn more about how information works and what propaganda is.
NOTE: Let us discuss the Tea Party briefly. Social conservatism can mean taking unpopular stances on key social issues. This is typically a minority interest. These minorities must band together or get shut out in a democracy (especially after 1965 when black Americans have more robust voting rights due to the actions of liberal Democrats). Not all the forces have equal democratic support, as not all social and classical liberal and conservative forces favor equal numbers with their policies. In fact, small group conservatives will always have fewer people favored with their policies, as this is their nature. If the basic stances of conservative and liberal in their classical and social forms are natural, no one, two, or three can get rid of the other. WWII didn’t stop Communism or Fascism. If 60 million dead bodies can’t stop it, I don’t see the point in throwing more at it. I don’t think that is where the answer lays. Instead, the answer lays in fact, rhetoric, and the Republic and in adherence to traditional American values and liberalism.
TIP: The House UnAmerican Committee went after Communists and Fascists. You can see that as a dark day in history, a social conservative state-based witch hunt. But more so, I’d urge you to see it as a reminder that ultimately, as Americans, we must agree that extreme fringe ideologies that deface our core values aren’t a good option for national politics. Use that as a metaphor for any western nation; the same general thing is going on globally here. When is it correct to pick Communism or Fascism over Western American Liberalism?
The Big Switch Isn’t A Myth, and We Can Prove it.
Now that we have provided more justification than anyone is sure to ever ask for. Let’s discuss some specifics of the switch.
In 1964 and 1965, at the start of what some consider “the Sixth Party System,” the Conservative Coalition that began in the 1930’s started moving the Republican party to the right and creating lures for different social conservative factions.
This not only resulted in “the Solid South Switch,” where Nixon’s Southern Strategy wooed Southern Democrats upset with LBJ’s “Big Government” actions, but also radicalized the Republican Party and brought it more in line with Southern values creating what we call the Tea Party (a populist union of many different socially conservative factions in a big pro-business tent).
I call this the Republican Sixth Party Strategy, one might simply refer to it as part of “the Big Switch”, some nice woman made a Documentary on it called “The Brainwashing of My Dad“, and Hillary Clinton called this “the vast right-wing conspiracy” back in the 90’s (although people rarely realize this is what she was talking about and instead somehow pivot that conversation into a “lock her up chant”.)
Whatever we call it, it helps explain why the voter map looks so much different today than it used to (as can be seen by comparing 1896 to 2000, and generally here). It also helps explain why the Republicans stand lock step in line with Fox News on issues everyone else is pretty sure is a provably false alternative fact.
Below is the story of how different factions of social conservatives teamed up with the old guard federalist neocon conservatives to put “America first” and “make America great again” after the Progressive era and Red Scares of the World Wars.
I’m going to write this in a simple as form as possible since there are a few documentaries on this and I already wrote a book-length essay on the history of the political parties and their switches (plus other works on the subject).
The Third Party System
In summary. There were two notable socially conservative populist factions that existed in between the Era of Good Feelings and Civil War; they were the socially conservative south and the nativist Know-Nothing north. Speaking loosely, the Northern one was Federalist, Whig, Republican the Southern Anti-Federalists, Democratic-Republican, and then Democrat. They never did agree in their time, but today they are essentially both Republicans. Here is the story of what that means.
The Civil War gives ways to Reconstruction and then to the Gilded Age. The Southern Confederates remained in the Democratic Party, but business wings took over both parties (old guard conservatives in one party, Bourbon liberals in the other, both had conservative and liberal factions). Later, after the corruption of the Gilded Age, a populist party of Democrats (at the time populist liberals and conservatives) arose under William Jennings Bryan to fight back against cronyism, capitalists, and general oligarchs. The right-wing aspects of this populist spirit included religious activists, the Gilded Age factions included pro-business factions, both these factions are in the modern Republican Party (the left parts are libertarians not in the party or support Bernie Sanders).
TIP: In the Civil War the Union stopped the Confederates from expanding southward (which would have expanded slavery and their party’s control of what today is America). Both groups were nationalists of sorts. They had different ideas of what the nation should look like. It was Lincoln who restored order, staved off invasion of Mexico, rejected the Know-Nothings, established an income tax and free schools, freed the slaves, and restored the Union, in these ways, and more he is not like a modern Republican.
The Fourth Party System
The Progressive era saw both parties turn away from business interest and toward progressivism. In this era, some ideologies were right-wing progressive ideologies, and some were left-wing. The factions with right-wing progressive (AKA right-wing activist) ideology are currently in the Republican Party.
Despite the right-wing leanings of some progressivism, there are two factions who didn’t like this push toward a more social system of income tax and women’s rights and workers’ rights. They were the old classically conservative Federalists who were found in the Republican party of the time and the socially conservative factions of both parties.
By the time Teddy Roosevelt splits from the Republican Party to run his Progressive Party, and Wilson gets elected, the Democrats have become a neoliberal globalist party of sorts and the Federalists more protectionist nationalists, especially with Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover’s return to “small government” conservatism. Around this time we start to see real socially conservative forces in the Republican party. They now stand next to the pro-Gold Gilded Age factions.
TIP: The heart of our story involves the shift away from the Gilded Age as much as it does the shift away from the Civil War. In both cases, there were socially conservative or classically conservative “business minded” factions that modernization left behind. They still wish to conserve back to an earlier America.
The Fifth Party System
From the early 1930’s to today, a now defunct in name but dominant in spirit group called the Conservative Coalition formed. Their purpose was to fight back against the New Deal and the rise of Progressive Social Liberalism (which they saw as Communism; not real Americanism, but Communism that represented the shift away from those Golden Gilded Years).
The Red Scare fight against Communism would drive most of global and national politics for the duration of the World Wars (so from the 1910’s to the 1940’s). It would also drive the divide between the two major parties as the actual Communists and Socialists tended to find more acceptance in the increasingly “big government” Democratic Party.
During this time, all sorts of unpopular and popular movements attempted to arise like an America first movement of what some accused of being “fascist supporters” in America. America first, like the little Communist sects that arose in Unions such as we can see in Debs, were first semi-tolerated and eventually stopped. Some were ended by kinder means than others, but mostly the means were non-violent.
The fascist groups always had an easier time than the Communist groups but were squashed by the majority in both parties. Even if one party was more right and the other more left, they both agreed that American liberal parties should unite against Communism and Fascism.
However, things change after the War.
After WWII Communism and Fascism are declared dead abroad, but a force renews the battle at home. Not against both, just against Communism. This force can again be called the Conservative Coalition, a coalition of social and traditional conservatives from both parties who were busy creating a big tent of ideas that aren’t popular enough to win elections alone, but they hope will be able to win together.
Here, even though Dixiecrat parties start to break away from the Democrats in the 1940’s, the old South retains their loyalties until LBJ and MLK. At that point, we get a Solid South Switch, the rise of the Conservative Coalition in its new form, and the divided house we find today. This is still happening; we are in the middle of the switch.
The Sixth Party System
In 1964 and 1965 LBJ, MLK, and Humphrey pass the Kennedy inspired Civil Rights 1964 and Voting Rights 1965 and Medicare and Medicaid “the entitlement programs” or “the Great Society Programs.”
If the New Deal started the split, the Great Society programs finished it. This is to say, the Socially Liberal New Deal Coalition, having found their place in the Democratic Party was met with an equal and opposite pushback by an equal and opposite Socially Conservative Coalition force. From here forth these names will lose meaning, but their spirit is a the heart of the current left-right split, so bare with me.
These factions now having parties and policies results in, over time, the Solid South becoming Republican as Nixon and the Coalition start pulling them into the party.
This Solid South Switch marks the start of the Sixth Party Switch and the Republican Sixth Party Strategy. It, however, is not the most important part. It looks as though it is on a map, but there is something more happening.
What happens at this point (it may have happened before, but it becomes public record here) is that an idea starts forming in the circles of the John Birch Society favoring anti-Communists like Reagan and Nixon.
The idea is that the “Conservative Coalition” can bring together all the varied socially conservative ideologies into the big tent and then create an ideology, party, and unofficial platform out of that.
They can use the propaganda techniques they learned from the World Wars and put them to use in their own party.
Our modern Republican Party, and in some ways its liberal opposition, is what arose when an early pioneer of modern American Socially Conservative Right-wing Populist propaganda named Roger Ailes help to devise a strategy to make this all happen.
This is the strategy that Lee Atwater helped with, the one Karl Rove and Frank Luntz used, the one that gave us Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes. This is the one that created Fox News, filled talk radio with Right-Wingers, created Rush Limbaugh, created Morton Downey Jr., and created Alex Jones and the alt-right. This is why we have higher brow CATO and ALEC and lower brow ones I won’t mention, and other organizations that push right-wing views and publish, and this is why we have the right-wing law firms and the legal groups.
There were earnest right-wingers before this; social conservatism thrived; big business used its influence. However, this group was facing a future of defeat after Voting Rights 1965 and facing a future of what they thought was Communism. They decided to team up and employ some shady tactics including the repeal of the fairness doctrine and the construction of pro-business socially conservative media that spread half-truths and talking points designed to convey emotion over fact, which is what propaganda is.
Big business, anti-abortion, big-tobacco, pro-segregation, and big-oil aren’t popular on their own, and they will never win a popularity contest. However, together they can use money and tactics to buy and gain influence. When the incentive is there, a Rush Limbaugh arises “as if by an invisible hand.” They don’t have to directly own the Frankenstein’s monster they created they can just all use the old States’ Rights Conservative faction’s obstruction tactics and egg it on from the sidelines.
The idea was, if we put out the message we want people to hear and, if we utilized a proper propaganda campaign, some X percent, let us just call it “a strong 30% of the voter base” will believe what we say.
They will say “I’m pro-life,” “liberal bias media,” feminists are bad,” “Communists are bad,” “climate change isn’t real,” “the looters and moochers,” “welfare is theft,” “welfare people are lazy,” and “taxation is theft.”
They will get angry; they will disrupt the Clintons; they will break the Clinton machine even though it had more popularity and resources. They will chant “lock her up.” They will turn into Super Mario.
Of course, that sort of strategy isn’t going to lure away a Union man who has always voted Democrat and start to get him voting for the Pro-Gold Oligarchs, right?
Well, yes, it worked like gangbusters and brainwashed a whole generation into supporting supply side trickle-down economics. But this thing doesn’t just work on gullible people; it works on everyone. Some of these people have even been elected to office.
You see, it isn’t that people aren’t naturally classically or socially conservative. In fact, everyone is pro-business, anti-business, a little socialist, a little capitalist, a little left, a little, right, and generally open to following a wide array of reasonable theories.
People are lots of things. There is one thing they aren’t though. They aren’t naturally radically rampant and rabid about someone else’s socially conservative view points based on nothing but provably false alternative facts.
No, that requires a propaganda campaign such as the one constructed on a mass level by figures like Ailes that we today call Fox News and Right-wing Radio.
A campaign that:
Uses isolation, control, uncertainty, repetition, and emotion to brainwash people into following hateful propaganda for the purposes of destroying the global left and guiding America back toward the 1900’s before the income tax, civil rights, and women’s’ rights (back when it was supposedly “First” and “Great Again”).
In other words, this is a tactic meant to stop the New Deal gone way, way, way, way too far for a country that sent our people to war with fascists.
This isn’t an essay on the negative aspects of neoliberalism or progressivism, or their relation to the switch. They have their propaganda, and they have the numbers, but they practice Communism when pressed and they (much to the dismay of progressives) keep using their full weight to keep Bernie Sanders out of power.
The right-wing has not done the honorable things the left parties have, they have let the Tea party run amok.
If this was just their bed, fine, they could lay in it. But it seems that we now have a global populist right-wing revolution underway in Britain, America, and France.
Even that might be OK if it was democratic, but honestly, alternative fact propaganda isn’t democratic. The ideology being pushed isn’t benevolent; it is aggressive toward everyone except white Protestant males. I’m a white male, and this is even making me uncomfortable, it has really started to go to far. We now have the internet and lots of documentaries; the cat is long out of the bag with or without this essay.
Before the election was done, I heard some guy saying he was in intelligence ranting about a Second American Revolution. I don’t know if it was bunk or not, but something tells me that man was just parroting what is being said in back rooms.
If this “Second American Revolution” is really just a re-skinned America first Know-Nothing fascist revolution against the global left using an angry proletariat and propaganda to disrupt the system. Then, remind us again why Communism is bad, and this is good? This sounds like Communism without the economic system. That is way, way, worse than working together as a union to evolve capitalism in a socially responsible direction.
A person interested in politics is going to be stumbling over this again and again as it has consumed so much of our modern history. The appropriate thing to do would be to back away from the ledge.
TIP: Progressive Southerners like Albert Gore, Sr. (Al Gore’s dad), Estes Kefauver, Ralph Yarborough, and Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) refused to sign 1956’s Southern Manifesto (a pro-segregation document which most conservative southern Democrats signed, including its author Strom Thurmond). Stories like this helped us to make sense of what did and didn’t switch. If you want more stories of this sort, see our main “parties switched” page. All factions are complex. None are entirely right or wrong. Judgments are applied better to individual actions.
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"The Republican Sixth Party Strategy and the Big Switch" is tagged with: American Politics, Conspiracy Theories, Left–right Politics, Party Switching, Propaganda, Social Engineering, United States of America