Excellent article by @KBAndersen but I think it is a misinterpretation, though a common one, to say that the Powell Memo was the "founding scripture for an economic crusade to discredit the New Deal consensus and rewrite the social contract." /1 nytimes.com/2020/09/11/bus…
In my book, FREE ENTERPRISE, I wrote that "the document is less important because it was original than because it synthesized so many elements of a pervasive free enterprise discourse" that had been around since the start of the New Deal. /2
What was different was less than the text than the _context_. Although the Powell Memo didn't say much that was new, it said it at a time when the New Deal order was beginning to fall apart and an emerging conservatism was becoming more popular. /3
One interesting tidbit from my research is that when I interviewed John C. Jeffries, the distinguished law professor and former Dean of UVA Law School, a clerk for Powell in 1973-74, and his biographer, I asked him why he didn't mention the memo in his superb 1994 biography.../4
...he explained that he did not see its content as very different from other things Powell had been saying. Even though Jack Anderson uncovered the existence of the memo in 1972, it was only after 2000 that journalists and scholars began pointing to it as a pioneering document/5
Prof. Jeffries is right that Powell had been saying similar things for a while. Indeed that is why his Richmond neighbor Eugene Sydnor asked him to write the Memo for the Education Committee of US Chamber of Commerce as a recapitulation of conversations they'd been having./6
And in my book I show that Powell was not unique. Indeed, his Memo employed a lot of the rhetoric of the anti-New Deal free enterprisers that dated back four decades./7

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More from @LarryGlickman

10 Sep
Whereas Trump thinks the way to reduce "panic" is to lie, in his First Inaugural, FDR, who also wanted to reduce "fear" and "terror," said in the 3rd sentence, "This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly."/1
washingtonpost.com/politicThis/tr…
In that speech, FDR claimed (with considerable exaggeration, it must be said) "In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor" has been met with the "understanding and support of the people."/2
Moreover, FDR didn't say the problem would magically go away. Instead, he offered a diagnosis of the problem and a series of proposed solutions: "Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously."/3
Read 10 tweets
31 Aug
Thread: I have a new piece in the @washingtonpost about why Ronald Reagan’s laughably bad prediction that the passage of Medicare would destroy freedom is frequently recycled by conservatives, most recently by Eric Trump at the RNC. /1
washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/0…
Here’s a link to Reagan’s 1961 speech./2
americanrhetoric.com/speeches/ronal…
As I show, Reagan’s 1961 prediction was itself recycled from anti-New Dealers who made similar incorrect predictions about being “the last generation to receive and cherish the legacy of liberty,” as one New Deal critic put it in 1936./3
Read 11 tweets
9 Aug
This is a great piece of reporting by ⁦@elizabethjdias⁩. What stands out most are the intense and generalized feelings of victimization, which is a common thread among Trump voters and conservatives more generally. But why do they feel this way?/1 nytimes.com/2020/08/09/us/…
This part, for example, highlights feeling “like your freedoms kept getting taken from you” and the view that “it was dangerous to voice your Christianity” under Obama, but then specifies “white believers.” /2
This section, unlike much of the rest of the article, offers two specific examples of why they feel besieged. One is the charge that “we were viewed as bigots, as racists” and the other is that “Obama wanted to take my assault rifle.” /3
Read 13 tweets
7 Aug
As with Douthat's column the other day, David Brooks massively overstates small differences among Republicans and the degree to which some are "breaking free from old orthodoxies." /1
nytimes.com/2020/08/07/opi…
The 4 GOP Senators he singles out--Rubio, Cotton, Hawley, and Sasse--as representing the "Republican future" have voted with Trump 84.6% or more, about the same level as the sycophant Lindsey Graham./2
projects.fivethirtyeight.com/congress-trump…
To take one example, the "populist" Josh Hawley opposes a minimum wage increase, worked hard as Missouri AG to take away health care from struggling people and now as Senator supports repeal of ACA, and supported (as did the other three) Trump's tax giveaway to the rich./3
Read 14 tweets
19 Jul
Trump's "militant and extreme language" is in fact very typical in American conservative politics and has been since anti-New Dealers employed apocalyptic language in the 1930s./1
washingtonpost.com/politics/from-…
As I show in my book, FREE ENTERPRISE: AN AMERICAN HISTORY, it was always "five minutes to midnight" for these critics of the New Deal. They used extreme language to explain why liberal reform was a "wolf in sheep's clothing" that would usher in an age of totalitarianism./2
Reupping this helpful thread by @KevinMKruse on the "socialism" charge that links to a couple of my threads as well./3
Read 4 tweets
8 Jul
Some of this research is fascinating and nuanced, but I'm skeptical of the idea of the "biology of political differences" or claims that "ideological orientations are genetically produced" or the "politicization of human nature."/1
nytimes.com/2020/07/08/opi…
Part of the problem is that so many of the categories described as having biological roots are socially constructed, mutable, and contested, including the very terms "liberal" and "conservative." /2
And I'm really confused by statements like "even if economic attitudes are not genetically constrained to go with cultural attitudes." /3
Read 5 tweets

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