Wednesday, August 05, 2015

2020: Civil War in the GOP?

Infamously, the 1968 Democratic Convention, held in Chicago, was wracked with protests -- from the far left. There had been a civil war within the Democratic party, for the soul of the party, throughout much of the 1960s. The conservative southern Democrats vs. the liberal northern Democrats; Jim Crow vs. Civil Rights; hawks vs. war protestors. The more extreme leftists weren't satisfied with mere protest. We had violent terrorist groups, ranging from the Black Panthers to the Weather Underground, rise up as well. The violence peaked in 1970, but it continued throughout the 1970s, with laggers like Ted Kaczynsky continuing their terrorism through the 1980s.

The 1960s-70s was a peak of violence centered around the development of the left and the divisions within the Democratic party. The violent fringe elements were assimilated into general society through the left-dominated institutions, like our universities, while the southern Democrats were, essentially, ejected from the Democratic Party. Left adrift, they were picked up by the Republicans, creating the contemporary Republican party with Nixon's southern strategy. Excepting the Reagan Revolution, which only really lasted Reagan's 8 years, the GOP is the party of Nixon -- a party of southern social conservatives and Keynesians.

Today we are seeing a return of the kind of violence as saw leading to the peak in 1970. Except this time, it seems the perpetrators are on the right. I have talked about Peter Turchin's cliodynamical prediction of a new peak in violence in 2020, and it seems to me that this time it will involve the right and the Republican Party. I suspect there will be a civil war within the GOP between the southern social conservatives and the libertarians. I predict it will be these two groups precisely because the "moderate" Keynesians don't care what social policies they need to support to get power. It is the social conservatives and the libertarians who have principles. That is, they care enough to fight.

We are seeing a surge in violence from the far right, with Dylan Roof's targeting African-Americans at their own church or the recent cinema shooting in Louisiana in which the shooter seemed to be a misogynist targeting women. The police seem to be increasingly emboldened, despite the omnipresence of cameras. The #BlackLivesMatter movement has been taken up by the libertarians and dismissed or worse by the social conservatives, who inevitably support the actions of the police no matter what they may do.

For those who don't think that the libertarians within the GOP are strong enough to wage a civil war within the party, you have to remember exactly how weak the far left within the Democratic party was early in the 1960s. Yet, by the 1970s, they were a vital force, and now they dominate the DNC.

What, then, can we expect to see? Will the Southern social conservatives be ejected yet again? Who will take them up? The Democrats? It's not impossible. Southern whites view themselves as a victim group, and in this sense they would feel at home in the DNC. Of course, if they moved into the DNC, that would be a major disruption to the coalition that now makes up the DNC. The libertarians would be in a position to pick many of those people up, though, to be honest, a more conservative Democratic party would probably be even more attractive to African-Americans and Hispanics who are really socially conservative. It depends on how divisive the Southern social conservatives insist on remaining.

It is also possible that the libertarians are ejected. That would mean two Keynesian parties who only differ on social issues. Liberalism would become a true minority view in this country, which would mean the final and complete destruction of our liberal institutions. In other words, we could see just the final blow to liberalism in the violence of 2020. Let us hope the opposite is true.

I talk about cliodynamics here and here and here and here and here and here and here
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