Twenty-five years ago, an eminent legal scholar, the late Philip Kurland, suggested that the tone of American politics was reminiscent of that in inter-war continental Europe.
Democrats devote themselves to appeals on lines of race, gender, and nationality. Their commitment to 'Ginsbergian feminism' makes few concessions to pregnancy and child rearing. Abortion on demand has been a gift to male predators, as has the abolition of alimony and the maternal preference rule in custody cases. New assault laws to protect the equal right of college women to get sloshed would effectively nullify rights of confrontation and jury trial. Even Betty Friedan became disillusioned with NOW. The social worker Mary Richmond observed: "It is easy for a wife who can earn twice as much as her husband and is without children , to announce that she does not 'approve' of this or that; but what about the wife who must support several small children after having spent the best years of her life in bearing and rearing them?"
The Democrats' agenda for African Americans suits Alabama in 1963. Arthur Schlesinger noted then the irrelevance of the discrimination-centered Southern civil rights agenda to the Northern cities. Civilian Conservation Corps and German-style incentives for youth employment are forsworn. Instead, the methods used to keep guns off the streets are attacked; although firearms laws mean nothing if not enforced. The Thermidor producing severe sentencing guidelines will be replicated if police brutality becomes "the civil rights cause of the 21st century," just as society is beginning to repent of the Rockefeller drug laws.
Democratic immigration policy opposes laws to legalize guest workers, allowing them to open bank accounts, buy homes and start businesses unless accompanied by "comprehensive immigration reform" to produce football stadia of new Democratic voters. Past episodes of sudden enfranchisement gave rise to municipal corruption and reactions against it: the Know-Nothing party and the post World War I revival of the Ku Klux Klan.
Finally there is gay marriage, conferring benefits on persons characteristically not raising children. Propagated by a billion dollars in tax-exempt foundation expenditures, the results of this cannot be good. The sequels to the permissiveness of Weimar and French and Russian revolutions were not happy ones; because of what one writer described as the "awful disorder and alarm in the hearts and minds of the simple human beings [given] man's yearning for an ordered universe ruled by absolute standards where sin was sin and must be expiated, where you must sacrifice to get your reward."
The Democrats have been enlarging national policing powers, with new Homeland Security and National Intelligence agencies, "hate crimes" laws, and injunctions against local police forces, creating uncontrollable institutions, like the "thorough" dictatorship of the Earl of Stafford that the Constitution was designed to forestall.
The Republicans' sin is not Jacobinism but nationalism. The Europeans now know its follies. But the warnings of the Dutch historian Johann Huizanga are not heeded here: "Among the fairies standing at the cradle of national pride, greed, hatred and envy have never been absent. A divinity to charge them with a mission is hardly necessary any longer; the nation is enough to itself. Shabby illusions of the egoism of the herd; the pitiful instincts of the sovereign state. We tend to over-estimate the ethical value of the sense of being a chosen people."
Blame for the militarization of foreign policy is bi-partisan. Churchill, George Kennan and Robert Taft thought that the Soviet Union was not intent on military adventures , and its archives bore out this view. The plunge into Yugoslavia was the work of Madeleine Albright. But since the discovery of the "axis of evil," foreign involvement has metastasized; NATO enlargement, American fleets in the Black Sea, complicity in the overthrow of an Ukranian government, and an "anti-terrorist" policy involving the throwing of rocks into hornet's nests, plus three new innovations: cyber warfare, drone warfare, and pervasive data mining. Republicans also uncritically support the Israeli Likud government, in disregard of its expansionist and terrorist origins, and have failed to point out that if America had the Israeli political system, the racist David Duke would be a member of Congress and might well be a cabinet minister in a coalition government. Single terrorist acts by the likes of Al Qaida or ISIS lead to the expenditure of trillions, as though we were threatened by a modern industrial state.
It is hard to remember that after World War II all senators but two voted to ratify the U.N. Charter, Article 23 of which, like the Treaty of Westphalia that ended religious wars, precludes interference in internal affairs, and confines wars to those authorized by the "five policemen" of the Security Council and those justified by individual and collective self-defense. The historian John Lukacs has observed "prevalence of a populist nationalism has become characteristic of American foreign policy. . . For there are fellow-travelers not only on the Left but also on the Right: people whose former fears become transmuted in the pleasurable feeling that they are admitted to the company of nationalists and haters."
To those questioning his somber prophecy about the course of American politics in the '90s. Professor Kurland happily rejoined: "Cheer up! Things will get worse!" They have.
George W. Liebmann is the volunteer executive director of the Calvert Institute for Policy Research (email@example.com).