Quick Saturday thread on this entertaining Michael Lind exercise in explaining the recent arc of liberalism as the return of the WASPs:
Lind stresses continuities; I would tell a somewhat similar story but stress disjunction more. I think the WASPs really did abolish themselves in the 1960s, and what has returned in social justice is an inheritor but not a resurrection.
You can under the transition from Yankee aristocracy to national meritocracy as mid-century WASPdom deciding that it had to die as a culture so that its institutions - the Ivy League above all - could not only sustain themselves but expand their power.
That move worked, and while it didn't do away with every trace of WASPdom, it was a bigger rupture than Lind's narrative suggests. The Social Register and the Presbyterian Church died or diminished so that Harvard could live:
That rupture also created a very materialist post-WASP elite culture, a shallow cosmopolitanism and a thin secularism, that in a period of crisis was ripe for re-theologization - which is what you're seeing happen, to some extent, with the Great Awokening:
But if that re-theologization includes a partial return of the repressed, a reanimation of impulses once contained in the Protestant Mainline, it's still much more post-Protestant, post-WASP, than a full revival of either tendency.
With apologies to Voltaire, it's hard to say that woke Ivy League progressivism is just WASPdom come again when it's neither white, nor Anglo-Saxon, nor Protestant.
Better to see it as bearing the relationship to the old Yankee order that liberalism bears to Christianity: There's a lineage there, common ideas and impulses, but the new thing is still different. The rupture in the 1960s was real. /end

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More from @DouthatNYT

17 Nov
The latest issue of @Plough Quarterly, on the theme "What Are Families For?," includes a raft of interesting essays. Here's my contribution, on the case for one more child:
Here is @LeahLibresco arguing for "an illiberalism of the weak":
Here's Edwidge Danticat on the more-than-nuclear family:
Read 5 tweets
13 Nov
Let me briefly defend @ezraklein's claims about the centrality of polarization to America's problems against @ezraklein's argument that the "dearth of the democracy" is really America's biggest challenge.
I'm sympathetic to the idea that the G.O.P. would be a better political formation if it were forced to compete more outside its rural/exurban base, which is one reason among many I don't particularly fear the abolition of the filibuster or the addition of new states. But ...
... one thing that 2020 should make clear is that the G.O.P., while not a majority coalition, is a *highly* competitive one relative to minority coalitions in the US past. It isn't staring down the barrel of demographic collapse. It's always within hailing distance of 50 percent.
Read 10 tweets
12 Nov
I think a key question for any newer right is whether it will fight hard *for* every vote, aspiring to the majorities Nixon and Reagan won, or whether it will be content to try to grasp the levers of state power on behalf of a 45-48 percent coalition.
The promise of Against-the-Dead-Consensus arguments on the right is that they aspire to build a *majoritarian* populism, not just sustain a defensive coalition propped up by a Senate edge. The voter-fraud fixation belongs to a we-can't-win-majorities mentality, not a winning one.
Against-the-Dead-Consensus conservatives should be spinning the results of a high-turnout election optimistically for their project. The GOP did not, in fact, collapse when more people voted! Trump even did a little better with black voters in Dem cities!
Read 4 tweets
5 Nov
Good @EricLevitz look at the agony of progressivism, to which I would append one thought:
Some of the agony is a rage against the injustice of winning popular majorities and being unable to govern. But it's important to recall that modern America has no tradition of 49-47 or 51-48 majorities leading to sweeping legislative change.
The major eras of ideological legislation -- New Deal, Great Society, and to a lesser extent Reaganism -- all depended on larger presidential majorities. Presidents who sought big change on smaller majorities (Bush after '04, for instance) have been quickly rebuked.
Read 7 tweets
30 Oct
Proposed magazines:
The New Standard (The Bulwark + The Dispatch)
The Populist (American Affairs + Modern Age + The American Conservative)
Contrary (Sullivan/Taibbi/Greenwald + The Tablet)
The Populist should be based in Dallas, Contrary on the Pacific Coast, the New Standard in DC.
Persuasion, Harper's and the new Wieseltier venture can merge to form Liberty, based in Boston, occupying the Atlantic's former offices.
Read 4 tweets
14 Oct
Less sure about this @michaelbd piece, though I agree with him that Roberts's Obamacare ruling was too clever by half.
Any critique of Roberts has to acknowledge that he really has maintained the court's public prestige at a time when no other institution has much:
And Barrett, I suspect, benefits from that cautious project; the polls showing plurality support for her nomination may reflect a (relative) trust in the court as well as a favorable response to the nominee herself.
Read 5 tweets

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