6/9 The Radical Roots of Modern Conservatism w/ John S. Huntington

June 9, 2022

Emma hosts John S. Huntington, professor of history at Houston Community College, to discuss his recent book Far-Right Vanguard: The Radical Roots of Modern Conservatism. First, Emma covers Yesterday’s SCOTUS ruling that protects federal law enforcement from civil rights lawsuits, the ACLU challenges Greg Abbott’s directive to investigate the parents of trans kids, and the haunting reflections from Miah Cerrillo in the wake of surviving the Uvalde shooting. Professor John S. Huntington then joins as he and Emma unpack the gap in academia that inspired his project, choosing to look all the way back to the outset of the 20th Century for the origins of modern conservatism, rather than starting from Nixon, Reagan, and the birth of neoliberalism, discussing the groundswells of radical conspiracy theorists, white supremacy, and anti-communism that now define the contemporary right. Jumping back to the start of the 1900s, Professor Huntington and Emma contextualize the state of the two-party system as one with both conservatives and liberals on both wings, a form of US politics that is extinct today, leading up until the 1920s which saw a rebirth of the nativism and racism of the previous century with the second coming of the KKK and the release of Birth of a Nation, seeing Klansmen suddenly strewn throughout US society, from corporations to Congress, and building up through the 1930s, setting the groundwork for a coalition against FDR’s New Deal democracy made up of businessmen, segregationists, and anti-communism conspirators. Emma and John then dive into the decentralized element of this conservative network, walking through the genuinely fascistic Klan supporters who wanted a renaissance of a white Christian America in contrast with the Jeffersonian Democrats who simply wanted to rescue their party from the commie that was FDR, with anti-communism as an easy rhetorical connection tieing them together against their enemies. After a discussion on the role of the first era of the red scare in setting up this rhetoric, Emma and Prof. Huntington dive deeper into the Jeffersonian Democrats’ founder James Reed, as well as figures like J. Evetts Haley, Robert Welsch, and William F. Buckley as the innovators of the conservative movement, from the anti-communism of the early 1900s to the neoliberalism of Nixon and Reagan, funneled through organizations like Buckley’s John Birch Society, and working to paint a picture of a “respectable” far-right that is different from the conspiracy kooks, who just happen to share the same policy ideas. This brings them to the era where academics tends to start their study, with the rhetorical shift to dog-whistle politics that occurs with the transition to neoliberalism under Nixon and in the wake of Goldwater’s rise, before they wrap up the interview by diving into the state of the two parties today, and discuss why conservatism has had so much more success in ingraining their talking points in political discourse, and pushing their fundamentalist policy as the baseline of acceptability.

And in the Fun Half: Emma is joined by Matt and Brandon as they cover Senators Lummis and Gillibrand deciding that NOW (in the wake of multiple massive crypto crashes) is the time to endorse Americans putting their retirement savings on the blockchain, Jack Del Rio claims 1/6 to be a “dust-up,” and Emma goes in on the exploitation of college sports. Devin from Alberta calls in to distill the idea of laying claim to right-wing claimed “space” to trigger the conservatives, Jay Z and Dorsey open a bitcoin academy (more similar to Trump University than any educational institution), and Kyle Rittenhouse sees little killers like himself facing backlash all across the US (presumably from Buffalo to Uvalde). Justin from Augusta discusses the Bill of Rights as inherently reactionary, Abby Martin takes on Sec. Blinken as he proclaims his support for Saudi Arabia and Israel at a freedom of the press conference, and Dennis Prager comes out as a baby-hater (those tiny-toed narcissists!) Emma and Matt discuss being called “groomers” by those that support pedophiles, plus, your calls and IMs!

Check out John’s book here: https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.9783/9780812298109/html

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