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Is a racially egalitarian American conservative party possible?


Kevin Drum thinks it is, and that it ought to replace the Republican party, which needs to be destroyed:

The Republican Party can’t win using ordinary methods. On the process side, they can win only by inflating the white vote via gerrymandering, cracked-and-packed districts, and ruthless black voter suppression. On the policy side, they can win only with heavy dollops of strident and outright bigotry against Mexicans, Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, Chinese, and anyone else who comes along. Even Canadians will do in a pinch.

Today, the Republican Party exists for one and only one purpose: to pass tax cuts for the rich and regulatory rollbacks for corporations. They accomplish this using one and only method: unapologetically racist and bigoted appeals to win the votes of the heartland riff-raff they otherwise treat as mere money machines for their endless mail-order cons.

Like it or not, this is the modern Republican Party. It no longer serves any legitimate purpose. It needs to be crushed and the earth salted behind it, while a new conservative party rises to take its place. This new party should be conservative; brash; ruthless when it needs to be; as simpleminded as any major party usually is; and absolutely dedicated to making Democrats look like idiots. There should be no holds barred except for one: no appeals to racism. None. Not loud ones, not subtle ones. Whatever else it is, it should be a conservative party genuinely open to any person of any color.

This is not a rhetorical question: is something like this even possible (at least in the foreseeable future — obviously everything is possible assuming a long enough time span), given the culture and history which shape American politics?

I disagree with Drum’s assertion that the reactionary goals of the GOP are limited only to bringing back the economic conditions of the first gilded age.  That’s certainly the primary policy goal of the party’s donor class, but it’s far from clear that this is even an important consideration — let alone the primary or only goal — for the party’s electoral base.

That base is interested, above all, in returning to a culture of unquestioned white dominance. This in turn is closely related to a desire for a return to traditional hierarchical social relations in regard to gender roles.  This kind of reactionary politics is more crucial, in my view, to the age of Trump than reactionary economic policies (which are actually very unpopular, especially if one can decouple the latter from the former in the minds of voters).

In other words, a conservative American politics that has a fundamentally egalitarian orientation toward race and gender relations (Drum doesn’t mention the latter) is, practically speaking, close to a contradiction in terms.

I suppose it’s possible to imagine a conservative American politics that wouldn’t have this fundamental orientation, but that would require, it seems to me, imagining a fundamentally different country.

. . . I suspect what Drum is imagining is something like the most corporatist, neo-liberal wing of the Democrats, which is to say people who are more or less in favor of maintaining or perhaps even intensifying the current extremely inegalitarian economic status quo, but are at least in theory in favor of making the demographics of that status quo more representative on racial and gender lines, if only because that would be good for business.  Of course there aren’t a lot of these people, despite the leftier than thou delusion that they actually control American politics, and that Donald Trump’s election is a revolt against this “ruling class.”

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