The Four Eras of the American Right

Exclusive: In the coming weeks, the Republican Party and its Tea Party extremists vow to create budgetary and fiscal crises if the Democrats don’t gut health-care reform and submit to a host of other right-wing demands. But a driving force in this craziness is an anti-historical view of the Constitution, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

As the world ponders why the American Right – through its Tea Party power in Congress – is threatening to shut down the federal government and precipitate a global economic crisis by defaulting on U.S. debt, the answer goes to the self-image of these rightists who insist they are the true defenders of the Founding Principles.

This conceit is reinforced by the vast right-wing media via talk radio, cable TV, well-funded Internet sites and a variety of books and print publications. Thus, the Tea Partiers and many Republicans have walled themselves off from the actual history, which would show the American Right to be arguably the opposite of true patriots, actually the faction of U.S. politics that has most disdained and disrupted the orderly constitutional process created in 1787.

President James Madison.

Indeed, the history of the American Right can be roughly divided into four eras: the pre-Confederate period from 1787 to 1860 when slave owners first opposed and then sought to constrain the Constitution, viewing it as a threat to slavery; the actual Confederacy from 1861 to 1865 when the South took up arms against the Constitution in defense of slavery; the post-Confederate era from 1866 to the 1960s when white racists violently thwarted constitutional protections for blacks; and the neo-Confederate era from 1969 to today when these racists jumped to the Republican Party in an attempt to extend white supremacy behind various code words and subterfuges.

It is true that the racist Right has often moved in tandem with the wealthy-elite Right, which has regarded the regulatory powers of the federal government as a threat to the ability of rich industrialists to operate corporations and to control the economy without regard to the larger public good.

But the historical reality is that both the white supremacists and the anti-regulatory corporatists viewed the Constitution as a threat to their interests because of its creation of a powerful central government that was given a mandate to “promote the general Welfare.” The Constitution was far from perfect and its authors did not always have the noblest of motives, but it created a structure that could reflect the popular will and be used for the nation’s good.

The key Framers of the Constitution – the likes of George Washington, James Madison (who then was a protégé of Washington) Alexander Hamilton and Gouverneur Morris (who wrote the famous Preamble) – were what might be called “pragmatic nationalists” determined to do what was necessary to protect the nation’s fragile independence and to advance the country’s economic development.

In 1787, the Framers’ principal concern was that the existing government structure – the Articles of Confederation – was unworkable because it embraced a system of strong states, deemed “sovereign” and “independent,” and a weak central government called simply a “league of friendship” among the states.

The Constitution flipped that relationship, making federal law supreme and seeking to make the states “subordinately useful,” in Madison’s evocative phrase. Though the Constitution did make implicit concessions to slavery in order to persuade southern delegates to sign on, the shift toward federal dominance was immediately perceived as an eventual threat to slavery.

Fearing for Slavery

Key Anti-Federalists, such as Virginia’s Patrick Henry and George Mason, argued that over time the more industrial North would grow dominant and insist on the elimination of slavery. And, it was known that a number of key participants at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, including Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton, were strongly in favor of emancipation and that Washington, too, was troubled by human bondage though a slaveholder himself.

So, Henry and Mason cited the threat to slavery as their hot-button argument against ratification. In 1788, Henry warned his fellow Virginians that if they approved the Constitution, it would put their massive capital investment in slaves in jeopardy. Imagining the possibility of a federal tax on slaveholding, Henry declared, “They’ll free your niggers!”

It is a testament to how we have whitewashed U.S. history on the evils of slavery that Patrick Henry is far better known for his declaration before the Revolution, “Give me liberty or give me death!” than his equally pithy warning, “They’ll free your niggers!”

Similarly, George Mason, Henry’s collaborator in trying to scare Virginia’s slaveholders into opposing the Constitution, is recalled as an instigator of the Bill of Rights, rather than as a defender of slavery. A key “freedom” that Henry and Mason fretted about was the “freedom” of plantation owners to possess other human beings as property.

As historians Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg wrote in their 2010 book, Madison and Jefferson, Henry and Mason argued that “slavery, the source of Virginia’s tremendous wealth, lay politically unprotected.” Besides the worry about how the federal government might tax slave-ownership, there was the fear that the President – as commander in chief – might “federalize” the state militias and emancipate the slaves.

Though the Anti-Federalists lost the struggle to block ratification, they soon shifted into a strategy of redefining the federal powers contained in the Constitution, with the goal of minimizing them and thus preventing a strong federal government from emerging as a threat to slavery.

In this early stage of the pre-Confederacy era, the worried slave owners turned to one of their own, Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and a charismatic politician who had been in France during the drafting and ratification of the Constitution and enactment of the Bill of Rights.

Though Jefferson had criticized the new governing document especially over its broad executive powers, he was not an outright opponent and thus was a perfect vehicle for seeking to limit the Constitution’s reach. Even as Washington’s Secretary of State, Jefferson began organizing against the formation of the new government as it was being designed by the Federalists, especially Washington’s energetic Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton.

The Federalists, who were the principal Framers, understood the Constitution to grant the central government all necessary powers to “provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States.” However, Jefferson and his fellow Southern slaveholders were determined to limit those powers by reinterpreting what the Constitution allowed much more narrowly.

Partisan Warfare

Through the 1790s, Jefferson and his Southern-based faction engaged in fierce partisan warfare against the Federalists, particularly Alexander Hamilton but also John Adams and implicitly George Washington. Jefferson opposed the Federalist program that sought to promote the country’s development through everything from a national bank to a professional military to a system of roads and canals.

As Jefferson’s faction gained strength, it also pulled in James Madison who, in effect, was drawn back into the slave interests of his fellow Virginians. Jefferson, with Madison’s acquiescence, developed the extra-constitutional theories of state “nullification” of federal law and even the principle of secession.

Historians Burstein and Isenberg wrote in Madison and Jefferson that these two important Founders must be understood as, first and foremost, politicians representing the interests of Virginia where the two men lived nearby each other on plantations worked by African-American slaves, Jefferson at Monticello and Madison at Montpelier.

“It is hard for most to think of Madison and Jefferson and admit that they were Virginians first, Americans second,” Burstein and Isenberg said. “But this fact seems beyond dispute. Virginians felt they had to act to protect the interests of the Old Dominion, or else, before long, they would become marginalized by a northern-dominated economy.

“Virginians who thought in terms of the profit to be reaped in land were often reluctant to invest in manufacturing enterprises. The real tragedy is that they chose to speculate in slaves rather than in textile factories and iron works. … And so as Virginians tied their fortunes to the land, they failed to extricate themselves from a way of life that was limited in outlook and produced only resistance to economic development.”

Because of political mistakes by the Federalists and Jefferson’s success in portraying himself as an advocate of simple farmers (when he was really the avatar for the plantation owners), Jefferson and his Democratic-Republicans prevailed in the election of 1800, clearing the way for a more constrained interpretation of the Constitution and a 24-year Virginia Dynasty over the White House with Jefferson, Madison and James Monroe, all slaveholders.

By the time the Virginia Dynasty ended, slavery had spread to newer states to the west and was more deeply entrenched than ever before. Indeed, not only was Virginia’s agriculture tied to the institution of slavery but after the Constitution banned the importation of slaves in 1808, Virginia developed a new industry, the breeding of slaves for sale to new states in the west. [For details on this history, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Right’s Dubious Claim to Madison.”]

Toward Civil War

The course to the Civil War was set, as ironically the warnings of Patrick Henry and George Mason proved prescient, the growing industrial strength of the North gave momentum to a movement for abolishing slavery. When Abraham Lincoln, the presidential candidate for the new anti-slavery Republican Party, won the 1860 election, southern slave states seceded from the Union, claiming they were defending the principle of states’ rights but really they were protecting the economic interests of slave owners.

The South’s bloody defeat in the Civil War finally ended slavery and the North sought for several years to “reconstruct” the South as a place that would respect the rights of freed slaves. But the traditional white power structure soon reasserted itself, employing violence against blacks and the so-called “carpetbaggers” from the North.

As white Southerners organized politically under the banner of the Democratic Party, which had defended slavery since its origins in Jefferson’s plantation-based political faction, the North and the Republicans grew weary of trying to police the South. Soon, southern whites were pushing blacks into a form of crypto-slavery through a combination of Jim Crow laws, white supremacist ideology and Ku Klux Klan terror.

Thus, the century after the Civil War could be designated the post-Confederate era of the American Right. This restoration of the South’s white power structure also coincided with the emergence of the North’s Robber Barons – the likes of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan – who amassed extraordinary wealth and used it to achieve political clout in favor of laissez-faire economics.

In that sense, the interests of the northern industrialists and the southern aristocracy dovetailed in a common opposition to any federal authority that might reflect the interests of the common man, either the white industrial workers of the North or the black sharecroppers of the South.

However, amid recurring financial calamities on Wall Street that drove many Americans into abject poverty and with the disgraceful treatment of African-Americans in the South, reform movements began to emerge in the early Twentieth Century, reviving the founding ideal that the federal government should “promote the general Welfare.”

With the Great Depression of the 1930s, the grip of the aging Robber Barons and their descendants began to slip. Despite fierce opposition from the political Right, President Franklin Roosevelt enacted a series of reforms that increased regulation of the financial sector, protected the rights of unions and created programs to lift millions of Americans out of poverty.

After World War II, the federal government went even further, helping veterans get educated through the GI Bill, making mortgages affordable for new homes, connecting the nation through a system of modern highways, and investing in scientific research. Through these various reforms, the federal government not only advanced the “general Welfare” but, in effect, invented the Great American Middle Class.

Civil Rights

As the nation’s prosperity surged, attention also turned to addressing the shame of racial segregation. The civil rights movement – led by remarkable leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and eventually embraced by Democratic Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson – rallied popular support and the federal government finally moved against segregation across the South.

Yet, reflecting the old-time pro-slavery concerns of Patrick Henry and George Mason, southern white political leaders fumed at this latest intrusion by the federal government against the principle of “states’ rights,” i.e. the rights of the whites in southern states to treat “their coloreds” as they saw fit.

This white backlash to the federal activism against segregation became the energy driving the modern Republican Party. The smartest right-wingers of the post-World War II era understood this reality.

On the need to keep blacks under white domination, urbane conservative William F. Buckley declared in 1957 that “the white community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically.”

Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Arizona, who wrote the influential manifesto Conscience of a Conservative, realized in 1961 that for Republicans to gain national power, they would have to pick off southern segregationists. Or as Goldwater put it, the Republican Party had to “go hunting where the ducks are.”

Then, there was Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy” of using coded language to appeal to southern whites and Ronald Reagan’s launching of his 1980 national presidential campaign with a states’ rights speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the notorious site of the murders of three civil rights workers. The two strands of historic conservatism — white supremacy and “small government” ideology — were again wound together.

In New York magazine, Frank Rich summed up this political history while noting how today’s right-wing revisionists have tried to reposition their heroes by saying they opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 simply out of high-minded “small-government principles.” But Rich wrote:

“The primacy of [Strom] Thurmond in the GOP’s racial realignment is the most incriminating truth the right keeps trying to cover up. That’s why the George W. Bush White House shoved the Mississippi senator Trent Lott out of his post as Senate majority leader in 2002 once news spread that Lott had told Thurmond’s 100th-birthday gathering that America ‘wouldn’t have had all these problems’ if the old Dixiecrat had been elected president in 1948.

“Lott, it soon became clear, had also lavished praise on [the Confederacy’s president] Jefferson Davis and associated for decades with other far-right groups in thrall to the old Confederate cause. But the GOP elites didn’t seem to mind until he committed the truly unpardonable sin of reminding America, if only for a moment, of the exact history his party most wanted and needed to suppress. Then he had to be shut down at once.”

Unholy Alliance

This unholy alliance between the racists and the corporatists continues to this day with Republicans understanding that the votes of blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other minorities must be suppressed if the twin goals of the two principal elements of the Right are to control the future. That was the significance of this year’s ruling by the Supreme Court’s right-wing majority to gut the Voting Rights Act. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Supreme Court’s War on Democracy.”]

Only if the votes of whites can be proportionately enhanced and the votes of minorities minimized can the Republican Party overcome the country’s demographic changes and retain government power that will both advance the interests of the racists and the free-marketeers.

That’s why Republican-controlled statehouses engaged in aggressive gerrymandering of congressional districts in 2010 and tried to impose “ballot security” measures across the country in 2012. The crudity of those efforts, clumsily justified as needed to prevent the virtually non-existent problem of in-person voter fraud, was almost painful to watch.

As Frank Rich noted, “Everyone knows these laws are in response to the rise of Barack Obama. It is also no coincidence that many of them were conceived and promoted by the American Legal Exchange Council, an activist outfit funded by heavy-hitting right-wing donors like Charles and David Koch.

“In another coincidence that the GOP would like to flush down the memory hole, the Kochs’ father, Fred, a founder of the radical John Birch Society in the fifties, was an advocate for the impeachment of Chief Justice Warren in the aftermath of Brown [v. Board of Education] Fred Koch wrote a screed of his own accusing communists of inspiring the civil-rights movement.”

Blaming the Democratic Party for ending segregation – and coyly invited by opportunistic Republicans like Nixon and Reagan to switch party allegiances – racist whites signed up with the Republican Party in droves. Thus, the Democratic Party, which since the days of Jefferson had been the party of slavery and segregation, lost its southern base, ceding it to the Republican Party, which essentially renounced its historical legacy as the anti-slavery and anti-segregation party.

A Flip of Allegiance

This flip in the allegiance of America’s white supremacists – from Democrat to Republican – also put them in the same political structure as the anti-regulatory business interests which had dominated the Republican Party from the days of the Robber Barons. These two groups again found themselves sharing a common interest, the desire to constrain the federal government’s commitment to providing for “the general Welfare.”

To the corporate Republicans this meant slashing taxes, eliminating regulations and paring back social programs for the poor or – in Ayn Rand vernacular – the moochers. To the racist Republicans this meant giving the states greater leeway to suppress the votes of minorities and gutting programs that were seen as especially benefiting black and brown Americans, such as food stamps and health-care reform.

Thus, in today’s neo-Confederate era, the American Right is coalescing around two parallel ideological motives: continued racial resentment (from the disproportionate number of black and brown people getting welfare to the presence of a black family in the White House) and resistance to government regulations (from efforts to control Wall Street excesses to restrictions on global-warming emissions).

Though the white racist element of this coalition might typically be expected to proudly adopt the Stars and Bars of the Old Confederacy as its symbol, the modern Right is too media-savvy to get boxed into that distasteful imagery of slavery.

So, instead the Right has opted for a rebranding as Revolutionary War-era patriots – calling themselves Tea Partiers, donning tri-corner hats and waving yellow banners with a coiled snake declaring “don’t tread on me.” So, instead of overtly defending the Confederacy, the Right proclaims its commitment to the Founding Principles found in the Constitution.

But this sly transformation required the Right to rewrite the Founding Narrative, to blot out the initial interpretation of the Constitution by the Federalists who, after all, were the ones who primarily crafted the document, and to pretend that Jefferson’s revisionist view – representing the pre-Confederate position of the southern plantation owners – was the original one. [For more, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Right’s Made-Up Constitution.”]

Now this doctored history – hostile to any federal government actions that would “promote the general Welfare” – is leading the United States and the world into an economic crisis.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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17 comments on “The Four Eras of the American Right

  1. An illuminating view of how a large tributary flowed into the mighty river: two diametrically opposed economic rivers united for different reasons to flow together. The rich and powerful have always been the mighty river. The middle class and poor, mostly in the South I must say (I live in the South), duped by the Republicans’ war on welfare and sex sins, have added to the mighty river. I say ‘duped’ because they have no idea they have contributed by their votes to the crumbling of America. And duped because the very ones they elect to restore ‘American values’ immediately turn, after the elections, to their masters to give them more and more money and power. The rich in their corner offices or yachts are laughing at the suckers.

    • Fat Hubie on said:

      It is not clear whom or what you are referring to.

      • News Nag on said:

        Speak for yourself, Fat Hubert. It’s pretty clear to me if you take it for what it is, analysis of how we got here and stay here.

      • BoshSpong on said:

        Fat Hubie, I can’t imagine why you find bobzz’ point unclear, he merely summarizes the writer’s points – two sectors of the electorate want to weaken the federal government, on one hand you have the wealthy industrialists who want no regulation and no taxation and on the other you have racists who want the freedom to be racist (both bedrock values of Libertarian ideology under the cover of “freedom of choice”).

        Bobzz also includes the religious right that got hooked up by the anti abortion, anti woman, sexually repressed fundamentalists.

        So you have a small cadre of uber-wealthy ideologues who manage and fund the movement, a large group of xenophobic racist white mostly southern hold outs and another sizable block of Christian fundamentalists drawn by the GOP’s “holier-than-thou” family values politics.

        Of course, of all of the groups that make up this coalition, the uber-wealthy are the ones who are laughing “all the way to the bank” because they are not moral, nor holy, nor necessarily racist – the uber-wealthy are beyond the constraints and rules applicable to the working man, they understand their objectives and could care less about the values “principles of the other members of the GOP “big tent” coalition.

  2. Brian Meadows on said:

    In 1773, before his ‘give me liberty’ speech, Henry wrote, “Who would believe that I am the master of slaves of my own purchase?” He wrote further that while he thought it ‘a deplorable institution’, to him, the ‘inconvenience of living without them’ outweighed what we good enlightened folk would call more humane and just considerations. Just another mortal subject to his time’s pressures? Maybe. I’ve also heard that one of Henry’s daughters became a noteworthy abolitionist, although I haven’t yet been able to find out which one.

  3. Don Bacon on said:

    But the historical reality is that both the white supremacists and the anti-regulatory corporatists viewed the Constitution as a threat to their interests because of its creation of a powerful central government that was given a mandate to “promote the general Welfare.”

    There was no such “mandate” any more than there was a mandate to insure domestic tranquility. It was a generalized goal stated in the preamble, and not in the part of the Constitution which allots powers.

    We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    Regarding Republicans, their demands to change health-care reforms are supported by a majority of Americans, and THAT would promote the general welfare.

    • When Obama was elected in 2008 most wanted a progressive agenda. If the majority don’t support it, it is based on a constant barrage of right wing propaganda. We’ll see if Americans still hate it when it goes into effect. You may be right, Don, but I prefer to wait and see. I still can’t get past the fact that government health services, which serves everyone at half the cost, helps Europeans to be healthier than Americans. The rich Europeans that come to America for health care do not match the Americans that go elsewhere to get health care they can afford. And I don’ know if you have noticed it or not, but the growing gap between rich and poor cannot be good for the nation that the right wants to ‘save’.

    • Most Americans do not support the shutdown. The shutdown reduces security and hurts most working folks. Most folks do support Obamacare. You are lying for profit or you are badly misinformed.

    • You have your facts wrong.

    • EthanAllen1 on said:

      “Don Bacon”
      The preamble to the Constitution is its statement of purpose; and as you noted in your own citation, it closes saying “…do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
      You seem to be more than a little confused about the use of the word ‘mandate’; why don’t you just look it up in the dictionary, and calm down?
      As Usual,
      EA

    • Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 – The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and General Welfare</strong. of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

  4. Michael Collins on said:

    The corporate right wing undoes itself by supporting the racist right wing. There is an inverse relationship between racist Republican control and concentrations of high tech firms and workers. Only one of the top ten cities for high tech jobs is in the old Confederacy – Mslbourne, FL – and that’s due to NASA. Only two of the top ten states for high tech jobs are in the racist Republican Old South — Texas and North Carolina (Virginia is among the top ten but that’s all Northern Virginia, not even close to the Old South or racist Republicans). So, if you’re a corporatist Republican and have a large firm or run or own a large high tech company, you better not locate in their states or you’ll have trouble finding workers. The schools tolerate pseudo science and the environment is not conducive to highly educated people (as NC is quickly becoming).

  5. Anthony McCarthy on said:

    Excellent article, showing the ties among today’s conservatives and those of the slave owning past. And in mentioning the Ayn Rand influence you almost get the whole way. The frightening truth is that there is a large faction of the functional right which is commonly mistaken as some species of liberal or leftist who are, actually, motivated primarily by a primitive libertarianism. A good example of that is the ACLU lawyer Joel Gora and his like who are engaged in aiding and abetting the wounding, if not murder of informed self-government through exactly the language of “free speech”. Of course what they and the Supreme Court have done is make “speech” anything but free by embedding monetary value in it. That gives the millionaires and billionaires, the heirs of the slave power and the robber barons, the kind of political power that their ancestors less often had. Until real liberals, the real left gets over the ridiculous scruple that turns “free speech”, for it what the “second amendment” is for gun nuts and the paranoid right that feeds and sustains them, liberals are their suckers. Dumping the ACLU for its enabling of this could be a way to start. A more realistic analysis, based in the political reality of what the rulings under the Buckley vs. Valeo line of rulings and the broadcast-cable libertarian dogma, and the line of truly awful presidents and congresses that we’ve had under them is necessary before any progress is made. The infantile notion of free speech absolutism turns out to be a danger when corporations are people and money is speech. Who could have guessed that would happen except anyone with a working mind and the slightest experience of the world as it really is and not in some law class what if.

    • Collin on said:

      The Anti-Federalists that the author of this piece labels as “corporatists”, this was the group who believed in only PUBLICLY chartered corporations. Corporations had to prove they were doing something to contribute to the public good, else they weren’t chartered. Jefferson despised corporatists, chiefly among them Hamilton, the “Stock-Jobber, King-Jobber”. Jefferson and the Anti-Federalists grew up with East India Company…they knew the perils of corporate personhood. Hamilton…who the article paints as anti-corporation (LOL!)…it’s just pathetic.

  6. Lincoln Robertson on said:

    Then why, with a President who is Black, when he had his Democrat congress, did he not do something.about the plight of the Black Community? Why is unemployment higher in the Black Community several years into this black president’s administration. Why haven’t 40 years of welfare helped the black community. Why are those failed programs continued? Because the liberal welfare system brings the Democrat party votes. Democrats live large with the black man down.

  7. “…paring back social programs for the poor or – in Ayn Rand vernacular – the moochers.” …and collaborating with “racist Republicans”

    One of the interesting things about the right wing authoritarian fringe, is the inability to see obvious conflicts when comparing various concepts, as they merrily go about drawing lines between dots that really don’t connect very well, or at all. As long as something promotes their view, any cognitive dissonance is A-OK.

    Paul Ryan for example, is perfectly happy to embrace Rand’s ‘rational self interest’ in the march to Galt’s Gulch, but when it comes to reconciling the obvious conflict with the ‘ethic of reciprocity’, the founding principal of Roman Catholicism to which he claims to belong, he’s either unable or unwilling (or both) to explain how that’s supposed to work exactly.

    So now we have a showdown over whether or not to blow up the economy, and there’s a reason for the chosen leverage issue which is the A.C.A. aka Obamacare – namely that the A.C.A. has Obama’s name on it. In other words, Obama is 1/2 black, and his signature issue, the A.C.A., leans in the direction of “the general welfare” which corporatist cherry-pickers of Rand’s ‘rational self interest’ might call ‘collectivism’.

    Of course, not all critics of Obama are racist, but some are. And yes, they really are afraid of collectivism. Back in Feb/2011 Pulitzer winner George Will told Newsweek “why liberals love trains”. “the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.”

    Huh…?

    Ironically, it’s possible the debt ceiling crisis might be avoided when corporate industrialists call Congress and explain it to them.

  8. The United States Constitution contains TWO references to “the General Welfare”, one occurring in the Preamble and the other in the Taxing and Spending Clause.

    Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 – The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and General Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;