Norman Rockwell And The Spoils Of War: The Golden Age Of American Manufacturing Is A Myth

This week, in a fresh attempt to derail the media’s focus on his Russian misadventures, Donald Trump is celebrating “Made in America” week at the White House. Once again, Trump is selling the myth of the great, competitive, well paying American manufacturing sector. Why do I call it a myth, you ask? Because he is deliberately referencing America’s manufacturing boom of the 1940s-1950s, and there was nothing normal about that economy. The only reason American workers of the 1940s and 1950s could come home to unskilled jobs that could support a family of 4 in Levittown while Dad went to school on the GI bill was because all our economic competitors were destroyed by war. The circumstances of the US manufacturing sector from 1940-1960 were unique. They were created by 1) the government’s need for war materiel to win the greatest conflict in human history, and 2) the partial or total destruction of our economic competition. Even without accounting for automation and advances in robotics, that sort of demand for unskilled labor is unlikely to ever be replicated in the United States. Unless we want to make like Randy Newman and drop the big one on all our trading partners, we need to stop pretending otherwise.

American manufacturers got a YUGE leg up from the Feds

The US manufacturing sector benefited from an unprecedented infusion of government cash from the passage of the lend-lease bill in 1940 until the end of the war (with significant infusions due to the Korean war and occupation of Europe thereafter). The entire economy was mobilized to manufacture war materiel, package food, and otherwise provide nearly all Allied manufactured resources for the duration of the war. Federal spending increased by a factor of 7 from 1940 to 1945, until it was over 40% of US GDP in both 1944 and 1945. A lot of that money went to goods manufactured for the armed forces, plus the $32.5 billion (1940 dollars) that the US exported through lend-lease during the war. It is very difficult to overstate  how much this demand, especially from 1944-1946, turbocharged the manufacturing sector and set it up to dominate the post war years. When WWII ended, the US had a thriving economy, no political unrest at home, no domestic damage from the war, and vast manufacturing resources that had been producing at maximum capacity to meet government demand. In other words, we were perfectly situated to convert our manufacturing sector to sell the products the world needed to rebuild.

Most of the world was in a state of chaos – and we profited handsomely

America was the primary economic beneficiary of two back to back World Wars, resulting in the total destruction of Europe and Japan, the consequent end of colonialism, the permanent expansion of the American military to compensate for European (especially British) withdrawals, the economic isolation of the Soviet bloc, war in Korea, and civil war and mass starvation in China. If you want to see how we profited artificially from global chaos and destruction, you’ve just got to look at the numbers. From 1900-1913, the US accounted for about 10-12% of world manufacturing exports. In 1921, the first post-WWI year for which the UN has available data, the American share had jumped to over 19%. Over the course of the 1920s the US settled into a 15-17% manufacturing export percentage level, still higher than before WWI. This dropped during the Great Depression, but by 1938, the US again accounted for a little over 15% of the world’s manufacturing exports (please see above UN link for data).

In the 1920s and 1930s, the US was the world’s richest nation, just as it is now. In the 1940s, its manufacturing predominance became truly disproportionate. In 1948, 3 years after WWII ended, the US still accounted for 30% of the world’s manufacturing exports. As late as 1953 it accounted for 28%. It wasn’t until 1959 that the US share of world manufacturing exports dropped below 20%. For most of the 1950s, the US ranged from 22-28% share, more than twice the American manufacturing export share before WWI, and 10% higher than the interwar period. Now American manufacturing has maintained an export share in the high ‘teens ever since, but after 1959, the artificial boost from WWII and the destruction of our trading partners had ended. Since 1960, the share of American workers employed in the manufacturing sector has steadily declined.

American manufacturing in the Rust Belt responded poorly to postwar competition

The part of America that received the greatest boost from the World Wars is also the part of the country that handed us Donald Trump. That’s no coincidence. The manufacturers who dominated the Upper Midwest had virtually no competition in the ’40s and ’50s. as a result, they became complacent and failed to innovate. When competition, international and domestic, showed up in the late fifties, they started losing business. It took them until the 1980s to improve their production model and stop hemhorrhaging jobs both to competing countries and the American South. However, this decline did not happen because other countries and their workers were “stealing” US jobs. It happened because jobs and market share were undergoing a predictable and appropriate redistribution in a more peaceful world.

The period between 1955 and 1980 saw Germany’s “economic miracle,” and the reconstruction of Europe thanks to the Marshall Plan. The US helped Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea develop a healthy manufacturing sector. Finally, after Nixon went to China, it began to take its place as a manufacturing powerhouse. A lot of this recovery was fueled with US government cash, and for good reason. While the loss of American manufacturing jobs since the 1960s has been hard for many Americans, it isn’t as hard as helping prop up a destitute world devoid of trading partners. When the American worker’s artificial advantage disappeared, a lot of people, especially in the Rust Belt, saw a decline in their way of life, and some of that squeeze came from our trading partners’ recovery and increased competition. But in reality, the trading partners we helped recover in the ’50s and ’60s buy the American goods that still represent 17% of global manufacturing output. Global manufacturing output keeps on growing, and for the most part it hasn’t been German or Japanese or Korean or Chinese workers who encroached on the American working class after 1960. It has been automation and production efficiency.

We can’t return to a prosperity bought with global war and widespread death

Until we quash the myth that there was a sustainable golden age of the American worker, we are going to have more and more Donald Trumps. Americans support Trump for a lot of reasons, but I think many of them support him because they are chasing a time when unskilled labor could support a high quality of life, and he has promised to bring it back. A lot of Trump’s supporters are baby boomers who were born during the period when the Rust Belt had no competition and manufacturing jobs provided a stable future. They believe they are entitled to what their parents had, and I can’t blame them. The working class got to be middle class from 1940 until 1960 on the back of a war torn world, and they have, understandably, never gotten over the loss of that status. However, a lot of people all over the world had to die to create that lifestyle for unskilled American workers. We are going to have to find a new way forward for the children and grandchildren of the greatest generation of factory workers. Going backward is not an option.

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The Day France Refused To Surrender

It is a great day for France, Europe, and western democracy; it is a terrible day for Anglo-American surrender jokes. Today Emmanuel Macron, a capitalist, pro-EU, pro-UN liberal, won the French Presidential election in what appears to be a landslide victory. The French people rejected Marine Le Pen’s nativist campaign in favor of the post-war values and institutions that have given us peace in the West for over 70 years. This is partially a testament to the virtue and reasoned choices of French voters, but it is also the result of Macron’s active defense against the Russian interference that helped convince Britons to leave the EU and Americans to elect Donald Trump. In our era, tyrannical regimes are not using tanks to threaten us; they are using cyber warfare and disinformation campaigns. Tyrants finally have a means to exploit the biggest weakness of democracies – that government leadership is determined by ordinary people who can make extraordinarily bad decisions if you scare them enough. In this war all democracies are equally vulnerable, and it was Britons and Americans, unprotected by the English Channel and Atlantic Ocean, who surrendered without much of a fight and, in America’s case, elected a collaborator. In a volte-face from 1940, it was the French (and the Dutch) who fought back.

The French rejected anti-refugee fearmongering and Russian interference

The French electorate resisted two of the driving forces that brought us Brexit and Donald Trump: fear of Islamic immigration and Russian propaganda. Marine Le Pen’s campaign included anti-Muslim and anti-refugee rhetoric similar to the Trump and Brexit campaigns, but her loss indicates that these narratives were not determinative for a majority of the electorate. France’s successful rejection of anti-refugee rhetoric is notable in light of the fact that it was France, not Britain or the US, who has suffered multiple significant terrorist attacks directed by the Islamic State. While the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando was a significant event, it was one of many “lone wolf” operations undertaken by a disturbed young man. While terrible, it was not an attack by an organized terror network. It is particularly impressive that France elected a pro-EU candidate, given the fodder the nativist right had at its disposal.

It is also promising that the Macron campaign seems to have resisted the cyberattacks from Russian hackers. Macron has taken a bullish position against Russian propaganda; in late April he revoked RT’s press credentials in retaliation for Russian hacks, and in recognition of the fact that it constituted an organ of Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine. In the final hours of his campaign, hackers dumped a load of documents they had obtained from a “massive” hack. It turns out that the Macron campaign had prepared for this eventuality.  As the Daily Beast reported yesterday, the campaign deliberately planted fake passwords and documents to bamboozle hackers, and ensure that when any document dump came along, it could respond with certainty that some documents were fake. The French government also asked French media outlets to stay away from the document dump for the one day preceding the election. These are calculated controls designed to promote reasoned decisions by French voters and prevent hackers from acquiring an outsized influence. Ultimately, both French voters and French political structures found ways to resist the forces that compromised the British and American electoral systems.

Give the French their due – we’re the cheeseburger eating surrender monkeys

Yes, my friends, after 77 years it is time to surrender our jokes about the surrender of 1940. I don’t know what we’re going to do with all those dropped rifles, never used, but we no longer have the right to taunt anyone for cowardice. This time, at a moment when democracy was threatened, it was Britain and America who, demoralized and rudderless, fell victim to the fearmongering of antidemocratic forces from within and without. This time, France stood up and stemmed the tide of hate in defense of our common values. And we shouldn’t be surprised, despite the many, many digs we have thrown their way since 1940. As Winston Churchill once said, “all my life I have been grateful for the contribution France has made to the culture and glory of Europe, and above all for the sense of personal liberty and the rights of man which has radiated from the soul of France….Show me a moment when I swerved from this conception, and you will show me a moment when I have been wrong.” Contre nous de la tyrannie, L’étendard sanglant est levé. From the center of the new Résistance we will be looking to France for inspiration and leadership. Well done, my friends, and Vive La France!

Shutting Down The Government Isn’t Just Stupid, It’s Ineffective

Donald Trump has decided that now is the time to withhold funding for Obamacare subsidies for millions of low-income Americans if he doesn’t get funding for his border wall. This is a typically asinine and pointless move on his part; for once, Democrats and Republicans in Congress seem to have been on their way to achieving a mutually beneficial deal without creating widespread collateral damage. Democrats’ reaction to this news was to promise they will shut down the government if funding for Trump’s border wall is included in the budget. No matter which party you support, this political brinksmanship with the basic functions of government has got to stop. If we were talking about a gross, unconstitutional threat to democracy like internment camps, there might be an argument in favor of a shutdown, but we’re not. We are talking about Trump insisting on pettily defunding a duly enacted federal program without repealing it, and the Democrats insisting on withholding funding for a stupid, pointless, expensive border wall that millions of Americans explicitly voted for. The integrity of the core institutions of government is more important than any policy goal. Holding the government hostage over partisan policy preferences erodes the structure of our Republic. More importantly, from a politician’s perspective, none of the shutdowns in the past 25 years benefited the fanatics who were responsible.

Newt Gingrich is a despicable megalomaniac and his gambit failed

Now, there were government shutdowns before Newton Leroy Gingrich came along, but they were in the order of 1-3 days. Even the first shutdown in 1995 wasn’t inconsistent with this history.  It lasted about 5 days.  However, Gingrich’s shutdown of 1995-1996 was a precedent-setting piece of political warfare that totally failed to achieve its goals. Gingrich initiated a standoff with Bill Clinton over which numbers Clinton had used to create his budget (Gingrich wanted him to use the Congressional Budget Office). Clinton, having produced a plan designed, as requested, to balance the budget in 7 years, refused to go back to the drawing board. On this basis, Gingrich shut down the government for 21 days. The American people were not impressed. Afterward, Republicans simply caved, and accepted Clinton’s proposal. The fact that the shutdown came after Gingrich felt snubbed during a ride on Air Force One did not help his reputation or make the shutdown more effective. Nevertheless, 17 years later, Republicans thought they’d have another crack at the shutdown strategy.

The Tea Party fell on its face trying to defund Obamacare

In 2013, the most fanatical tea party advocates in the House of Representatives advocated defunding Obamacare, since they did not have the ability to repeal it.  Over the summer of that year, tea party activists sent a barrage of phone calls and letters to members of Congress, demanding a government shutdown if Obamacare was not defunded. Senator Ted Cruz spoke for 21 hours on the Senate floor about his beliefs regarding shutdown. These developments forced even relatively moderate Republicans into going along with the party’s ideologues. Accordingly, the Republican House of Representatives shutting down the government for 17 days because it refused to fund the President’s signature domestic policy achievement. The shutdown ended when the Republicans were forced, due to widespread voter disapproval, to fund Obamacare. To add insult to injury, they were also compelled to raise the debt ceiling, or amount of debt the US government is able to repay, a particular bugbear of theirs during the Obama years. The shutdown was a total failure.

A failed strategy that damages government institutions is no strategy at all

It’s time to stop the madness. These ideological shutdowns don’t work! In this case, Congress seems to be working together, and Trump needs to stay out of it. Perhaps Trump is laboring under the delusion that he will get a popularity bump like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama did when the opposing party shut down the government. The trouble is, both of those men were trying to compromise with fanatics in Congress, not trying to insert poison pills into the negotiation at the eleventh hour. The Democrats seem to think taking a page out of the fanatics’ playbook is a great idea. It isn’t. In the last 25 years, Congress has never gotten its way from a shutdown. In our current political environment, I am vehemently opposed to drawing false equivalencies between the Democratic Party and the GOP under Trump. That said, if Congress fails to fund the government and shuts it down, I wish a pox on both their houses.

Why Are We Still Arguing Over Reproductive Rights? The Problem With Roe v. Wade

Once again, Republican lawmakers are taking aim at the reproductive rights of American women. Assaults on Planned Parenthood don’t really make any sense – its primary purpose is to provide its patients with contraception and sexual health screening, and it’s the only provider in a lot of urban and rural communities. Planned Parenthood’s mission isn’t all that controversial. For all the prudishness expressed by many on the religious right, no one actually wants an outbreak of HIV or untreatable gonorrhea in rural and urban America (even Mike Pence). The only reason the Republican party is attacking contraception and women’s health organizations is because some Planned Parenthood clinics and many other sexual health clinics perform abortions. The “moral majority” just can’t seem to get at Roe v. Wade itself – yet. Social conservatives have allied themselves with judicial conservatives, who have a constitutional objection to Roe, for 40 years, and they aren’t likely to stop attacking reproductive rights unless the split in the legal community is resolved – which is highly unlikely.

It is the legal controversy, not the moral one, that has created Roe’s destructive power in our politics, because social conservatives know they can attack Roe by appointing the right people to the Court. Many perfectly rational judges and lawyers, whether they personally support abortion rights or not, are skeptical about the constitutional theory Roe was based on. In finding a right of privacy inherent in the 14th Amendment, the Court revived one of the most controversial theories of constitutional law in American history and based women’s reproductive rights on that unstable foundation. Basically, we’re fighting to protect the right of poor women to have access to pap smears because it did not occur to the men writing the seminal case on women’s rights that the case was about the equal protection of women’s rights at all.

About that right to privacy …

So here’s the thing: a woman’s right to have an abortion is based on a right to privacy that the Constitution does not explicitly grant.  That right, as applied in Roe, is read into the 5th and 14th Amendments, which say that no citizen shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without Due Process of law. The Court says that the right of a woman to procure an abortion before her fetus becomes viable – when it could live outside the womb – is part of the “liberty” interest the State can’t take away from her. This act of reading into the “liberty” interest is called “Substantive Due Process” (I have never heard a good explanation why). On one hand, that seems completely logical. What could be more important to liberty than the right to control one’s health and bodily function? On the other hand, many lawyers and judges are very wary about reading rights into the “liberty” interest of the Due Process clause, because doing so is associated with one of the ugliest chapters of Supreme Court history.

I mean, why shouldn’t a kid work 70 hours a week?

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Supreme Court went to quite a bit of trouble to protect the property rights of the wealthy at the expense of the huddled masses of 12 year olds apparently yearning to breathe some free factory air. The Court concluded that the “liberty” interest of the Due Process clause included a right to contract. In a series of decisions knocking down labor laws, including a federal law regulating child labor, the Court concluded that the individual’s right to contract was more important than the government’s interest in ensuring corporations were not abusing and killing its citizens. This era of pro-property rights Court decisions is called the Lochner era, after one of its most famous cases. This line of cases was finally overruled in 1935, and it is among the most clear and destructive examples of “activist judging.” So when Roe was decided in 1972, reading rights into the “liberty” interest in the Due Process clause, Substantive Due Process had long been a constitutional hot potato. It is favored by some Justices for its flexibility in adapting an 18th and 19th century document to the modern world and disfavored by others for its past and potential future abuses. The problem with basing Roe on substantive Due Process is that whether you agree with it or not, there are popular and valid legal arguments against it. The debate about reproductive rights isn’t going away because there are a lot of lawyers and judges who, whatever they think of abortion, are very wary of this line of reasoning.

What’s wrong with a little Equal Protection for the ladies?

The weird thing about Roe v. Wade is that it could have been decided on a much more solid foundation: the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Had the decision been founded on that basis, some judges might have questioned whether abortion rights are an Equal Protection issue, but no one questions whether the right to Equal Protection of the laws exists. Moreover, it’s easy to prove that reproduction places a burden on half the population that does not exist for the other half. With many women acting as heads of household, it seems a pretty obvious argument that restricting their right to control reproduction effectively restricts their right to pursue their life goals and provide for their families in competition with men, who cannot get pregnant. Few, if any, judges would contest today that the clause applies to the rights of women. Indeed, the argument against the Equal Rights Amendment was and is that women are protected by the Equal Protection Clause. It seems unlikely Roe would have remained so profoundly controversial if it had been decided on that basis.

So why are we still arguing over reproductive rights? Because the men evaluating the importance of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy spent a great deal of time evaluating the medical history and implications of termination, but very little time evaluating whether an abortion could impact a woman’s ability to determine her future, as any man would expect to do. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said that she wishes the first reproductive rights case had been that of a young female Air Force Officer who, when she became pregnant in Vietnam, was given the choice of terminating the pregnancy or leaving the service. Ginsburg thinks this illustrates the fact that the issue is a woman’s choice, not the mechanics of abortion. I agree. At the time Roe was decided, it was only two years after the Equal Protection clause had been applied to women for the very first time. The world might be quite different if abortion rights had been decided a few years later. However, all speculation about how Roe could have been decided is an intellectual exercise; it is unlikely substantive Due Process is going anywhere. As with all important civil rights cases, Roe v. Wade has other precedents built on top of it, most importantly (in my opinion) the entire line of gay rights cases involving sexual privacy and marriage. So ladies, when the next Supreme Court seat opens up, grab your gay friends and protest for all you’re worth, because all of our rights depend on it.

 

 

 

It’s the Nukes, Stupid: Why We Still Need The UN

I think the hostility many Americans feel toward the UN stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of why it is important (aside from its many, many, effective humanitarian programs, which are all underfunded). Since Donald Trump was elected, Republicans are once again talking about defunding the UN. These proposals always arise when it makes decisions the US doesn’t support, like condemning Israel for its settlement activity, or blocking a resolution to impose sanctions on Syria. These critics appear to view the UN as if its primary function were to pass resolutions that agree with American policy.  In reality, although the UN was founded by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, it is not a creature of the United States, and therein lies its usefulness.

We’re talking about an international body with 193 member states that, for better or worse, gave its 5 original members a veto they can use to protect their own interests and those of their allies.  As much as that might create gridlock and hypocrisy, the fact that Russia and China can throw their weight around as much as the US allows the UN to perform its most critical functions: representing a set of international standards of conduct respected, if not always followed, by all member states, and acting as an impartial forum in which nations can present their arguments to the international community. The US defunding the UN would effectively cripple the institution, and that would be a profoundly stupid idea in the face of a resurgent Russia and nuclear North Korea. We need only look to our own history, and the role the UN played in the Cuban missile crisis, to understand the importance of the institution.

The UN security council has always been gridlocked and difficult

The foundation of the UN was the alliance that brought down Hitler: the British Empire, the United States, the Soviet Union, the Republic of China, and the Free French. Roosevelt called the alliance the United Nations. That is why these 5 nations have permanent seats, and a veto, on the Security Council. Obviously, the veto proved problematic when, in Churchill’s words, the “Iron Curtain” fell over eastern Europe. For the approximately 40 years of the cold war, the permanent members exercised their vetoes, either formally or by implication, often enough to prevent the security council from getting much done. Important conflicts that were ignored include the partition of India (Britain), Algerian war (France), 1st Afghan War (Soviet Union), and Vietnam (US). During the height of the Cold War, the US and Soviet Union were particularly inclined to use their vetoes. If the usefulness of the UN were defined by the effectiveness of the security council at enforcing the UN charter, it would have been dead on arrival.

The UN helped prevent nuclear powers from ending life on earth

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the UN performed two functions: 1) it offered a credible forum where the American Ambassador, Adlai Stevenson, could present evidence that the Soviet Ambassador, Valerian Zorin, had been lying about placing missiles in Cuba (you can watch it here; it’s pretty great); and 2) it gave Secretary-General U Thant the credibility he needed to mediate between the two superpowers, helping them to avert catastrophe.

When the UN got involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis, the world was at possibly the most dangerous point in human history. There was a standoff between the US and the Soviet Union from October 16-28 of 1962 over intercontinental ballistic missiles placed in Cuba by the Soviets. The US found out about the missiles through routine overflights of the area, and were understandably perturbed. The Soviets denied that the missiles existed, and the United States imposed a quarantine on Cuba, promising to intercept and turn back any Soviet vessel that tried to approach. It is difficult to exaggerate the danger of that moment. The tension was so great that, but for one man’s refusal, a Soviet submarine would have started a thermonuclear war.

Enter the UN. On October 24-25, UN Secretary General U Thant was able to convince US President John F. Kennedy to try to avoid intercepting any Russian vessels, and convince Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev to temporarily divert his vessels away from Cuba. It was a hard sell. Initially, when asked to remove the quarantine entirely,John F. Kennedy flatly refused. During this period of mediated negotiation, Stevenson was able to present the American evidence on the floor of the UN General Assembly, which reduced Soviet credibility among other nations. On October 28, when the crisis concluded, it was in no small part due to Thant’s intervention.

It is the gridlock and power struggles that give the UN its value

The UN would have had no ability to negotiate between JFK and Nikita Kruschev if the US had more power than the Soviet Union within the organization. The UN’s impartiality is its greatest asset. It makes Russia and the US accept the judgment of Turkish coroners that Syrian civilians died of a nerve agent (even if those two nations dispute who killed them). It is an impartial arbiter precisely because Russia and China can exercise their veto when we don’t want them to. There is intrinsic value to having an organization that establishes a list of principles everyone should live by, even if we don’t live up to them all the time. Even when we, the US, or Russia, or Britain, or Argentina fail to comply with the UN charter, the Secretary-General representing the principles in that charter still has power as a mediator. The UN is a giant bureaucracy with a lot of problems, but it performs an important role in a flawed world. Without its impartiality, and the forum it provides, the world would look a whole lot grimmer.

Trump’s Syrian Reversal: A 180 Is The Wrong Angle For Diplomacy

This week Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad gassed his civilians with a nerve agent, and, Donald Trump, in a total reversal of his policy toward Syria and its ally, Russia, bombed the airfield Assad used to do it.  Some of the reactions in the Press have been pretty ludicrous, with Fareed Zakaria  even calling Trump “Presidential” for bombing the airfield, and others have been serious.  However, even though many pieces have noted that Trump’s unpredictability has now entered the international stage, most have not thoroughly explained why a swift reversal of policy is the most dangerous part of Trump’s airstrike. The issue is not whether Trump is a hawk or a dove on Syria, or whether or not he is friendly to the Russians; the issue is whether Trump has established a policy at all. If Donald Trump does not create and announce a policy for how the American government will interact with Syria, Russia, or any other country, that nation cannot rely on current diplomatic norms to prevent conflict. Trump broke the stability of international diplomacy by reversing his stance on Syria virtually overnight and failing to adopt a new one. If Trump does not develop and act on real, thoughtful policies in his international relations, it can and will have consequences for all of us.

Diplomatic norms depend on well researched policies and consistent public stances

Governments, laws, and international norms exist, at their most basic core, to resolve most conflicts before they arise and keep people from killing each other. Diplomacy is usually incredibly boring, but it exists for a reason. A policy about how one country wants to interact with another provides a roadmap for where conflict might arise. Some fights may be inevitable, but the diplomatic norm of producing policy and taking public stances on contentious issues – then sticking to those stances – ensures that conflict will not be unpredictable. It enables each party to try to think of solutions before bombs start flying.

A great example of using announced policy to avoid conflict is the US government’s One China policy, a delicate balancing act if ever there was one.  In order to have diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, all countries must cut off relations with the island of Taiwan, because China considers Taiwan to be part of one Chinese nation. Taiwan, the Republic of China, is the remainder of China’s former democratic (though horribly corrupt) government, which was allied with the US and Britain during WII, and which the US has promised to defend. To navigate this conflict, the US only has diplomatic relations with Beijing, but it continues to sell arms to Taiwan, and have informal connections there, and it maintains its obligation to defend Taiwan should China attack it.  The US was able to hammer out a workable compromise because both it and China had all their cards on the table. The US isn’t prevented from violating the One China policy, or attacking China, it’s just less likely to do so because all of the potential consequences have been mapped out. Nothing in life is certain, but developing, announcing, and sticking with well thought out diplomatic policies goes a long way toward limiting the uncertainty that often causes conflict.

Trump upended diplomatic norms on Syria with a rapid reversal

On its face, Trump’s airstrike seems like the sort of proportional military response Syria and the Russians should have expected. So why didn’t they? The answer is, Trump’s Secretary of State and UN Ambassador publicly announced a policy that the US is not interested in intervening in the Syrian civil war. On March 30, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that Assad’s status as President “will be decided by the Syrian people.” The same day, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said “our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out.” I think it would be excessive to suggest that they were saying they do not care about the Syrian people, but they were certainly saying that they are not interested in intervening to oust Assad.

On April 4, video footage of the gas attack emerged and was reported. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer read an obligatory letter of condemnation for the attacks and then told the press that he would not ask Assad to step down and not acknowledging the reality of power in Syria would be “silly.”  This seemed to be a continuation of the announced policy of non-intervention. Then came the reversal. On April 5, Trump announced, without specifics, that he was changing his mind on Assad because Assad killed “innocent babies.” On April 6, Tillerson announced that Assad would have no role in governing the Syrian people, and that Trump was considering a “serious” response. That night, Trump bombed the Syrian airbase. Trump performed a 180 degree turn on the issue of whether to intervene in Syria, a Russian ally, in 48 hours. He has yet to announce its new stance on how the US, its allies, or anyone else should proceed in Syria.

Trump’s rapid change in Syria policy made ALL diplomacy unpredictable … and therefore dangerous

I think each nation is looking at the shocking reality we Americans have been experiencing every day on an individual level: “I have no idea what this person is going to do or say today and his choices affect my safety.” Our allies have ample reason for concern, and there are a lot of countries with whom the United States has fraught relationships. Every country, ally or antagonist, has to make its decisions with the possible actions of the US Government in mind. We are everywhere, and they need to rely on the American Government to be predictable. Sadly, the only clearly discernible policy in this mess appears to be “if I see dead babies on CNN I will bomb whoever did it.”  The fate of the Syrians gassed by their government is tragic, but so is the fate of the many Yemeni children dying of starvation and war right now. There are a whole lot of people who have killed babies in the Middle East, intentionally or incidentally, including Donald Trump. Bombing all of them will make a parking lot, not a solution. Now, we are facing off with the world’s second largest nuclear power over a conflict Trump didn’t care about 6 days ago. Fingers crossed Russia doesn’t bomb any preschools – it might end up on CNN.

If Treason Swung An Election, What Do We Do About It?

Ever since the news started trickling out that Trump and seemingly all of his associates have or had incredibly suspect ties to Moscow, I’ve been wondering … if Trump’s campaign committed treason, what the hell are we going to do about it?  Now that it appears Michael Flynn may have flipped on Trump, we should ask what the fallout would look like. Let’s assume, for purposes of argument, that 1) Donald Trump and his campaign coordinated with a foreign power to swing a US election, and 2) that action qualifies as treason. (I think it would, and you can read more about the current law of treason here.) There are two solutions to the problem that have been widely discussed in the Press and on social media. The first is to nullification of the election and the second is impeachment. I have already written on this blog that nullifcation is not warranted, and that rationale stands. Impeachment as a sole solution is also problematic. If Donald Trump committed treason by colluding with Russia as a means to assume power, every decision he has made as President could have been taken to serve the Kremlin’s interest in undermining American democracy. His entire Administration would be illegitimate, and must be expunged. If impeachment won’t solve all of the problems posed by a treasonous Trump, it’s up to us to figure out – is there a remedy?

He’ll have to be impeached, but that may not fix the problem

The trouble with impeachment is that it is a remedy for a personal criminal act, not a remedy to nullify the actions of a compromised President. Treason is explicitly mentioned as a basis for impeachment in Article 2 of the Constitution, so if Trump committed treason, he’ll get impeached. The problem is that impeachment would only remove Trump from office. That leaves all of his Executive Orders and federal appointments in place. If his appointees do not immediately resign, it would be hard to use impeachment to expunge Trump’s, and Russia’s, influence and decisions from the enormous executive bureaucracy.

Assuming Trump’s appointees do not immediately resign, in order to get the worst apples out of the executive, you would have to impeach not only Trump, but Pence, Sessions, Tillerson, and anyone else who may have participated in the conspiracy with Russia. Impeachment is a lengthy process. First, the House of Representatives, which acts like a Grand Jury, decides, on presentation of evidence, whether to impeach – or indict – the President or other executive officer for a criminal act. Second, the Senate conducts a trial. This process takes a while; Bill Clinton’s impeachment and trial took almost two months from beginning to end. Trying to impeach so many executive officers would take many months in which the legislature is not concentrated on the business of the public. That wouldn’t just be a scandal factory, it would impair the government’s ability to function.

No one anticipated this, so we don’t have an existing remedy

As importantly, even if Congress were able to impeach every conspirator, the problem remains: Trump set out to deconstruct the Administrative State and deliberately nominated departmental heads who will destroy their agencies (just look at the EPA). As with all of Trump’s decisions, we cannot know if he did so to serve Vladimir Putin’s ends. If I were Vladimir Putin, I would definitely want the US President to cripple all the institutions of American government. If Trump is proven to have colluded with Putin, there’s no reason to think he’d object to undermining our democracy. He’s been undermining it with his lies and conspiracy theories since he became the Birther in Chief. As the law currently stands, we cannot undo Trump’s actions unless the subsequent President chooses to do so. If Trump’s appointees did not commit a crime, and they will not resign, and the subsequent President does not fire them, we can’t get rid of them.

Clearly the drafters of the Constitution contemplated Presidential treason – it is the only crime mentioned in the Constitution, and it is a stated basis for impeachment. After all, these are the people who had to contend with Benedict Arnold. However, a situation in which a candidate for President could collude with a foreign power to disseminate propaganda, hack opposing political parties, and swing an election, thereby raising a specter of a foreign agent running the US government, could not have entered their minds. The technology did not exist to facilitate the type of treason Donald Trump and his associates could have committed. Impeachment isn’t enough; it could leave in place decisions and appointments designed to undermine American democracy and serve the interests of a power and a man – Vladimir Putin – who has declared his opposition to our system and values.

We need a mechanism for purging a Presidency acting on behalf of a hostile power

Should it emerge that Trump has committed treason, we need to purge his stench from the Executive. Congress will almost certainly impeach him and, if necessary, Mike Pence, and his appointees will probably resign, if they are not fired by the new President Ryan (who would be the strangest accidental President ever). However, I don’t think relying on the next guy’s discretion to reverse Executive Orders and fire cabinet appointees is an appropriate institutional protection for electing a real life Manchurian Candidate. One of the beauties of our system is its checks and balances, and we need a check for this situation. We can’t just rely on the next guy to do the right thing.

To restore faith in the Presidency as an institution, we need a mechanism to purge the acts of a President who assumed power through collusion with a hostile nation. As Director Comey said last Monday, this form of political warfare isn’t going away.  He expects the Russians to be back in 2018 and 2020. Currently, the 25th Amendment sets out quite clearly what happens when a President dies or is removed from office, and doesn’t provide for the invalidation of an Administration’s actions. I think it would promote confidence in the integrity of American government to establish a remedy for these circumstances, either through Congress, if it has that power, or through a Constitutional Amendment. We are in uncharted territory, and even if Trump has not colluded with Russia to the degree this argument supposes, if Russia remains determined to use non-military means to take down western democracies, we have to assume that someone else might. Trump is not the only rich, amoral narcissist in the country, and if Vladimir Putin dangles the Presidency in front of another one, who’s to say one of them wouldn’t take the bait?

 

The Week Congress’s Credibility Got Trumped

The Trump Administration and its ally in Congress, Devin Nunes, have put yet more cracks in the foundation of American government. Nunes, a Republican Congressman from California, is the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, which is supposed to oversee the conduct of the U.S. intelligence community on behalf of Congress. Nunes has always had close ties to Trump – he served on the transition team when Trump was preparing to take office. This week he did three things that showed he has greater allegiance to Trump than to the country or the truth. First, when Nunes received classified information related to the investigation into Trump’s possible collusion with Russian agents during the election, he showed that information to Trump, compromising the House’s oversight of intelligence agencies’ investigation. Next, he refused to show that information to the rest of the Committee, who require it in order to properly oversee the intelligence community. Finally, he cancelled a public hearing with individuals whose testimony will almost certainly be damaging to Trump. By compromising House oversight to protect Trump, Nunes has sown doubt among the American People and the world about whether the American government still has the functional ability to hold the President accountable.

Trump got egg on his face at last week’s Intelligence Committee hearing

On Monday, March 20, the Donald had a really bad day. Ever since his bizarre tweets on March 4, 2017, alleging that President Obama had wiretapped him during the election and transition, most Americans have been expecting confirmation that there was no basis for Trump’s allegations. That confirmation came in a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee last Monday. The mission of the House Intelligence Committee is to oversee the conduct of the United States Intelligence Services. Basically it is a check on the President’s use of spooks, and so it fell to the Committee to investigate whether there was any truth to Trump’s ridiculous claims. Both FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers testified unambiguously that there was no evidence supporting an Obama wiretap. Additionally,  they revealed there is an investigation into whether Trump and his associates colluded with Russian operatives to swing the election. That second revelation, in particular, should have been a cause for significant bipartisan concern. The FBI’s counterintelligence division is investigating a sitting President and his associates for collusion with a foreign power. Of course, that’s not how it went.

Republicans tried to help Trump, and politicized intelligence oversight in the process

In a move that seems to be the new normal, Republican members of the Committee tried to cover up yet more disproven Trumpian allegations by redirecting the topic of the hearing. They refused to acknowledge the problem of Russian interference in the election, instead focusing exclusively on the issue of the intelligence leaks that led to the resignation of former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn (for lying about communications with the Russian Ambassador).  At one point, Representative Trey Gowdy even suggested Director Comey should be locking up journalists. It had the pointless, destructive effect of politicizing the issue of intelligence leaks – now most people either think Russian interference is a problem or they think leaks are a problem. In reality, both of these problems are serious and both are the jurisdiction of the House Intelligence Committee. However, their gambit was unsuccessful; the Press still reported widely that Trump had invented a fictitious wiretap and is under investigation. Then their Chairman stepped into the breach.

Devin Nunes abandoned his duty in order to act as a Trump surrogate

On Wednesday, Nunes evidently changed his tune on leaks, as he took leaked classified information regarding Trump associates and walked directly into Trump’s office and gave it to him. He refused to share the information with his associates on the Committee. Then he walked out to the Press and told them that he had information that Trump associates were surveilled “incidentally” during the Obama Administration. Trump said that he feels “vindicated” by this new information, but here’s the thing: this information isn’t new. “Incidental surveillance” refers to information collected about American citizens because they communicated with individuals, such as agents of foreign governments, who are already under surveillance. We already knew this happened.  That’s how we know Michael Flynn talked to the Russian Ambassador! So, in sum, Devin Nunes handed Trump classified information, the details of which are unclear, and then walked out to the Press and used old news to imply that Trump had been right about wiretapping. The only credible interpretation for this behavior is that Nunes was trying to help Trump save face. Nunes himself said he felt he had a “duty” to share the information with Trump because he was taking “heat” in the media. He has completely disqualified himself.

The Committee is now permanently compromised, and cannot investigate Trump

The Committee’s credibility is gone. On Friday, Nunes abruptly canceled an open hearing at which former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who informed the White House that Flynn lied about his communications with Russia’s Ambassador, was supposed to testify. The hearing was also supposed to include testimony by President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence and CIA Director. In light of Nunes’s defense of Trump earlier in the week, neither the media nor  his colleagues believed he cancelled the hearing for objective reasons. As Rep. Schiff said, “the chairman will either need to decide if he’s leading an investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House. Because he cannot do both.” It is important that any investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia has credibility, and it is now almost impossible for Congress, or at least the House of Representatives, to produce findings that the country and the world can accept as a conclusive and objective consideration of these issues. It’s time to open an independent investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia. To do otherwise will continue to erode our institutions to a degree that might make them unsalvageable, even if Trump ends up making an undignified and involuntary exit.

Trump’s Threat To NATO, Or Why Churchill Is Spinning In His Grave

Since the beginning of his campaign, it’s been clear that Donald Trump is, at best, skeptical of the role NATO plays in the modern world. He has called it obsolete. He has claimed, falsely, that other countries owe the United States money for its operation (the issue isn’t paying into NATO, it’s each country agreeing to increase funding of their own militaries, which they are all doing). So it seemed like a relief when Donald Trump met with Angela Merkel last Friday, and pledged his support for NATO. Today, we found out that, as usual, he was lying. Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, is going to skip an important NATO summit in favor of a visit to a certain Russian cartoon villain. I’m not sure if he could have designed a bigger slap in the face to our allies if he tried (of course it’s possible he was trying). Currently, NATO is presenting a united front against Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. If the United States abandons its allies, there will be no impediment to Vladimir Putin picking off and absorbing the countries of Eastern Europe one by one. You may be asking, why should I care? The answer is war. You should really care about war in Europe.

Russia has been on the march for 10 years, and shows no sign of stopping

Vladimir Putin has a Napoleon complex, and he’s really cranky about his Soviet Empire being taken away. The Baltic states, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, used to be part of the Soviet Union.  Once they gained independence, they decided democracy was their jam, and they joined both the EU and NATO. Dear old Vlad isn’t happy about this, and they aren’t the only countries displeasing him. He has already begun an effort to re-take Ukraine and Belarus. He invaded Georgia, another former Soviet state. He has also made aggressive moves toward Poland, by putting banned missiles on their border (there is a tiny slice of Russia between Poland and Lithuania, that used to be part of Germany before it started the last European war). In short, Putin has provided all kinds of evidence that he will stroll into other countries and co-opt them if he doesn’t think he’ll face significant resistance. And let’s face it, poor Poland has been invaded enough.

Why is Europe vulnerable if the US abandons NATO?

The thing about aggressor nations is, they only respond to the threat of overwhelming force. In a cost benefit analysis, no country is going to conclude that a war to expand territory is worth it if there is little likelihood of success or if that war will be too costly in blood and treasure. This is why mutually assured destruction was such an effective policy during the Cold War. The Soviet Union and the United States maintained first strike capability, and had a policy of launching all of their nukes should the other country upset the territorial status quo. No country is going to upset the status quo if it means turning their nation into a nuclear wasteland. American military power has been protecting Europe since 1945; without it, they are all vulnerable. We used to keep an arsenal of tanks in Germany, but they have mostly been removed, and Putin’s conventional capabilities outmatch NATO’s. Now, you can argue that the European powers should have replaced those conventional weapons, but they didn’t, and what they “should” have done will be irrelevant if Russian tanks roll into Latvia. So the reality is, the only thing left protecting NATO allies from Russian aggression is the American nuclear umbrella (Britain and France also have nuclear weapons, but they probably don’t have enough to deter Russia). That deterrent is dependent on a US President’s willingness to use it. President Obama already eroded the world’s confidence that the US President would use nuclear weapons by suggesting the United States adopt a no first use policy. Now, given Trump’s coziness with Russia, what would Putin have to fear?

Despite its vulnerability, NATO and the EU can’t just let their members get invaded

Pretty much all countries between the Ukrainian/Belarussian/Russian border are EU and/or NATO members who used to be part of the Soviet Union or client states of the Soviet Union. This includes Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. That’s a huge chunk of the EU, and the military powers of Europe, Britain, France, and Germany, can’t just let Putin dismember the second largest economic trading bloc in the world. Nor can they desert their allies (they are not, ahem, the NATO member with a history of that moral flaw). The EU/NATO may be outgunned by Russia, but it still has three of the ten most powerful militaries in the world, in France, Britain, and Germany, and it will not let aggression against member states go unanswered. Trump’s clear intention to elevate a Russian alliance and devalue NATO is not only stupid and destructive, it is also a moral failure. Even the smaller countries of Europe, like Poland, have assisted America’s missions in Afghanistan and, in the case of Poland and Britain, even Iraq. They’ve bled for us, how dare we refuse to bleed for them? Most importantly, Trump’s policies could spell the end of the international institutions that have prevented the carnage of war in Europe for over 70 years.

The end of Churchill’s vision for European (and world) peace

Winston Churchill is the father of the post-WWII consensus that developing international alliance and institutions can prevent war. Along with Franklin Roosevelt, he wrote the  Atlantic charter, the founding document of the United Nations, outlining the guiding principles for a future without war. The above link goes to a NATO page because the Atlantic Charter is also considered a founding document of NATO, which was created to protect democracies from authoritarianism. Churchill’s legacy also includes the EU itself (his “United States of Europe”) and the European Convention on Human Rights, which is Europe’s equivalent to the US Bill of Rights. He realized that if economic integration, military alliance, and a common commitment to the same human rights bound the countries of Europe together, they would stop murdering each other every 20-30 years. Lord knows the UN, EU, and NATO have their flaws, but they have achieved one of their architects’ central objectives – staving off war in Europe.

Churchill, who has half American, also believed in the greatness and goodness of the United States, and in its role in preventing another World War. The US has certainly fallen down on the job of ensuring peace for the entire world – it has unquestionably caused its share of wars. However, it has played its part in ensuring that the wealthiest, most powerful militaries in the world have not dragged it into a technologically advanced orgy of destruction. Churchill’s vision has worked, and there is no earthly reason it won’t continue to do so. So when you ask yourself why it’s such a bad idea to have a re-set with Russia and a little distance from NATO, you’re really asking yourself this: whom do I trust with the fate of the world, Winston Churchill or Donald Trump?

Killing the New Deal, Or Who Doesn’t Love a Hooverville?

Last month, Steve Bannon told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Committee that the Trump Administration’s objective is to deconstruct the Administrative State. That sounded pretty terrifying at the time, but it was unclear how exactly they intended to do that, other than appointing patently incompetent leaders at federal agencies. Now that Paul Ryan’s healthcare plan and Donald Trump’s budget have been unveiled, it’s clear that the real target of the Trump Presidency is the idea that government should play a role in citizens’ welfare. They want to kill Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and we should all be ready to fight them, because even if the New Deal ain’t perfect, we definitely do not want the old one.

The old deal made America pretty great for business, but pretty bad for people

FDR was not the first President to try to pass laws to protect public safety – his cousin Theodore, leader of the Republican Progressive movement, holds that distinction. However, prior to the Great Depression, the Republican Party was heavily dominated by an extreme brand of economic conservatism that rejected all regulation of the economy, even to preserve public safety. The Conservative Supreme Court led the way, ensuring that Progressives were unable to make many of the real reforms they wanted. The Court read a “right to contract” into the Constitution, and from 1897 to 1937, it knocked down efforts to establish workers’ rights. A few things they found unconstitutional include: limiting work hours to 60 a week, ensuring the right to join a labor union, regulating child labor, taxing employers who hire children, mandating a minimum wage, and regulating the coal industry. By the 1920s, the activism of the Court was supported by the election of Calvin Coolidge, who believed that government should deregulate industries and stay out of the economy, while instituting low taxes for the wealthy.  Although Coolidge presided over a period of prosperity (partially fueled by Woodrow Wilson’s wartime spending) wealth inequality was so extreme that half of Americans lived below the subsistence level. Sound familiar? It should. And just as our deregulation efforts from 1980 to 2008 unleashed the worst parts of Wall Street and crashed the economy, Coolidge’s policies helped cause the Black Monday crash of 1929 and bring on the Great Depression.

The New Deal wasn’t just new programs, it was a new concept of government

Franklin Delano Roosevelt inherited a demoralized, dysfunctional country, and he had a clear plan to fix it. Building on the Progressive movement led by his cousin Theodore, he set out to establish a regulatory structure that could protect citizens from the economic, environmental, and personal consequences of capitalism. When we talk about liberalism today, we are talking about New Deal liberalism, which is the idea that capitalism is the right system, but only if it is properly regulated to curb its excesses. This notion of regulating business to promote public safety and equalize opportunity is really the core of the New Deal. It passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which established a national minimum wage and national labor standards, as administered by the already existing Department of Labor. It established agencies like the FDA (in its modern iteration), the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, which grew into the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates Wall Street, the National Labor Relations Board, to protect union activity, and the Social Security Administration. It is these agencies, along with the EPA and structures of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, which built on the New Deal, that Donald Trump has targeted with his budget.

You may wonder how, when faced with the same Supreme Court philosophies that hampered the Progressives, FDR managed to pass all of these laws. Well, he threatened to pack the Court with three additional liberal Justices. Somehow, the Court reconsidered the whole right to contract idea, and started playing ball. Many Republicans accused FDR of being a dictator, and that accusation wasn’t out of left field. These changes were radical, and FDR did not pussy foot around – he imposed his will on everyone. His core Conservative opposition opposed both his tactics and his theory of how government should work, but they had virtually no power to block his initiatives, because after the Court-packing plan, all three branches of government belonged to the Democrats.

Conservatives have been waiting to unmake the New Deal for 85 years*

The Calvin Coolidge adherents didn’t evaporate because FDR got elected four times. Instead, they became a dedicated group of ideological purists hiding in a corner of the Republican Party. Conservative opponents of the New Deal formed a large part of the  America First Committee, and the eventual leader of the wartime and post-war Conservative movement, Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio, opposed American intervention in WWII. As a result, they were disfavored by many Republicans after the war.  The Truman and Eisenhower years saw an emphasis on moderation and a relative lack of distinction between the parties (indeed, in 1952 both parties asked Eisenhower to run). However, in the tumult of the 1960s, with the rise of the civil rights movement, movement Conservatism made a comeback. In order to take over the Republican party, Conservatives made an alliance with segregationist Dixiecrats and, in the 1970s, socially conservative evangelical Christians to create the coalition that elected Ronald Reagan in 1980. Reagan certainly began deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy, but he did not give the Conservative movement the extreme change it wanted. In the end, he was willing to compromise. Now the Conservative movement has its chance; Trump, who does not appear to care about any sort of ideology, seems willing to sign anything Congress sends him. It’s going to be a challenge. To return us to pre-New Deal America, Conservatives are going to have to remove all of the checks on corporate power designed to protect us… and then convince us we like it.

There are still moderate Republicans, and only they can stop this

Conservatives in the Calvin Coolidge mold have only gained dominance in the Republican Party in the last 8 years. It is really the Tea Party movement that brought them to power. That isn’t long enough to wipe out the moderate Republicans who still think regulations for public welfare are a good thing, and, more importantly, that swift and radical change is a bad thing. Disliking radical change is pretty much the definition of a moderate. In order to combat this disaster, it isn’t enough to rely on Congressional Democrats, who have relatively little power at the moment. If you really want to stop the deconstruction of the Administrative State, write to Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine, and Rob Portman of Ohio, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and John McCain of Arizona. With the election of Trump and a Congress led by Ayn Rand devotee Paul Ryan, the Conservative movement has finally gained enough power in the Republican Party to get its wish list. If we do not stop them, they will undo 85 years of American progress, and we can’t just look to our own “team” to get in their way. If you want to save the New Deal, call a Republican.

 

* The summary in this section is taken from the excellent Rule and Ruin by Geoffrey Kabaservice.  Kabaservice, Geoffrey M. Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, from Eisenhower to the Tea Party. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.