Saturday, June 23, 2018

Eisenhower Empowers African-Americans: Blacks in Significant Roles in Ike’s Administration

On July 10, 1955, the New York Times ran an Associated Press article with the dateline July 9, Washington. The AP wire story was headlined “Negro Appointed Eisenhower Aide” and represented a meaningful step forward as African-Americans worked toward full civil rights in the 1950s.

The same day, the Los Angels Times ran the same article under the headline, “Negro Appointed to Top Job in Executive Office.” The article stated that

The White House announced today that Everett Frederic Morrow, a Negro, had been named to a top job in President Eisenhower’s executive office.

Large numbers of Black voters took the news as confirmation of their decision to vote Eisenhower into the presidency in 1952. Groups like the National Council of Negro Democrats had taken the bold step of endorsing Eisenhower’s candidacy. The Democratic Party’s ticket for the national election did not convince African-American voters that the Democrats were solidly opposed to segregation.

The Eisenhower campaign drew up a list of fourteen actions which his administration took once he was inaugurated. The steps toward complete civil rights angered key Democrats like Senator Robert Byrd, whom Hillary Clinton called a “friend and mentor.” Byrd voted against Ike’s 1957 Civil Rights bill.

Concerning Everett Frederic Morrow, who’d graduated from Rutgers Law School, the New York Times stated flatly that

He will be the first Negro of such rank in the executive office.

Another Democratic Party leader, Senator (and later president) Lyndon Johnson, retaliated by offering amendments to the 1957 Civil Rights bill which were designed to make the bill’s provisions unenforceable. Johnson’s opposition was more of a stealth tactic, while Byrd’s was a head-on attack.

Inside the White House, Morrow brought important experiences and connections to the Eisenhower administration from his previous posts at the CBS network and at the NAACP.

Mr. Morrow served on President Eisenhower’s campaign train in 1952. He has been with the Columbia Broadcasting System public relations staff and at one time was field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

It was a powerful statement on Eisenhower’s part that Morrow was placed in a supervisory role over Nelson Rockefeller. To have a Black executive overseeing a member of the wealthy and powerful Rockefeller family was a clear sign of Ike’s commitment to civil rights.

The National Council of Negro Democrats shocked observers by endorsing the Republican presidential candidate, but this group knew that meaningful opposition to segregation would come from President Eisenhower, and not from the Democratic Party’s candidates.

Morrow’s grandfather had been a leader and an educator within the Presbyterian Church. The New York Times noted that

He comes from a family long identified with educational and civic development of Negro life.

Prior this appointment, Morrow had worked in the Eisenhower administration as “an advisor on business affairs to Secretary of Commerce Sinclair Weeks.”

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Nixon in 1968: Freedom and Prosperity as Ideological Underpinnings

The name and reputation of Richard Nixon have been so closely linked with the Watergate Scandal and his subsequent resignation from the presidency that it takes a significant mental effort to understand the place he occupied in U.S. politics prior to 1972.

The 1968 election saw the voters of the Democratic Party split between the party’s official nominee, Hubert Humphrey, and a splinter candidate, George Wallace, who left the Democratic Party and took a significant percentage of the party’s voters with him. This split allowed Nixon to win the presidency in 1968.

As was more common at that time, it was not entirely certain whom the two major parties would nominate as their presidential candidates. The delegates would make significant decisions at the conventions.

Both parties vied for the votes of Blacks. Nixon’s Republicans had more success with suburban and rural African-Americans in the South, while Hubert Humphrey would find success among urban Blacks.

In August 1968, William F. Buckley analyzed the views of Richard Nixon which had brought him to the point of obtaining the party’s nomination:

This country has had the most phenomenal success of any country in the world graduating people from poverty into affluence, and that graduation has been the result of economic and private activity, not government activity.

Buckley was arguing that despite struggles about race relations, about the Vietnam War, and about the economic situation of the poor, the United States still enjoyed a fundamentally sound condition, both in terms of liberty and in terms of providing opportunities for its citizens.

The limits imposed by the citizens upon the government provide general prosperity and individual opportunities. The government being restrained, people are free to work, save, and find chances for advancement. The mechanisms for prosperity are, then, individual initiative and the liberty to do with one’s money as one pleases.

Buckley argued that Nixon’s view was to preserve the sources of America’s strength. “Under the circumstances,” Nixon “wants to maintain those wellsprings of action.” The civil rights struggle of 1950s and 1960s was taking on an added dimension: economic concerns.

Nixon’s view, in sum, was to find the foundations of what was working well for the people of the nation, and protect and preserve those foundations.

The earlier phases of the civil rights movement had focused on voting rights and access to buses. The later phases also addressed the concept of equal opportunity.

Nixon created opportunities, as historian Conrad Black writes:

On May 16, Nixon invoked “the silent center who do not demonstrate, who do not picket or protest loudly.” He was offering the African-Americans government tax incentives for small business and home improvements in their areas and neighborhoods. He had given up on notions of vast, horribly costly slum clearances compulsory relocations of people. If standards of living and quality of life could be improved where people were, all the rest would follow. He was promising a hard crackdown on crime and violence.

Violent crime was disproportionately impacting the Black urban community. Opportunities would be created by reducing crime and reducing the government regulations which had prevented African-American entrepreneurs from experiencing success with their small business.

Most voters were repelled by the idea, proposed by the Democratic Party, of forced relocations of citizens from one neighborhood to another. Nixon won votes by rejecting that idea.

Nixon also proposed an end to the draft and end to the Vietnam War. President Kennedy had placed U.S. combat troops into Vietnam, and Johnson had greatly increased the number of troops there. Candidate Humphrey proposed further troop increases. Nixon’s proposal to end the war was popular. In the 1950s, President Eisenhower had kept U.S. troops out of Vietnam, and had urged future presidents to do likewise. While Kennedy and Johnson ignored Ike’s advice, Nixon, having been Eisenhower’s vice president, would get American soldiers out of Vietnam.

Truly equal opportunities yield unequal results, because people make different choices. So talk of ‘equality’ in politics needs to be categorized into equality of rights and opportunities on the one hand, and on the other hand equality of property on the other.

Equality of property - i.e., everyone has the same amount of money - can only be achieved by the continuous violation of civil rights. Buckley said,

Unless you have freedom to be unequal there is no such thing as freedom. Every single person who owns a Ford car today is considered, by terms of international statistics, as being especially privileged. My point is that he worked to achieve it and that we ought to encourage a system which permits people like and you and people like Mr. Smith and people like the technicians in this room to make progress. The fact that they make more progress than other people is not their fault, nor is it the fault of other people. It’s the fault of freedom, but this I judge to be the price that we ought to be willing to pay in order to indulge the great animating force of progress in the world.

No matter how well-intended or how carefully calculated, government intervention is, first, a violation of the liberty of the individual, and second, not able to provide the anticipated equality and prosperity.

Although it is tempting to ask for government intervention, the price of freedom and dignity is the self-restraint not to request some manner of regulation. Buckley noted

I think that the strongest line that he could take is to face the people of the United States and say, “The reason, the principal reason, for the discontent of our time is because you have been encouraged by a demagogy of the left to believe that the federal government is going to take care of your life for you.” The answer is the federal government A. can’t, B. shouldn’t, C. won’t. Under the circumstances look primarily to your own resources - spiritual, economic, and philosophical - and don’t look to the government to do it because the government is going to fail you.

Although unpleasant to learn, the axiom underlying the phenomena of the modern world is, in Buckley’s words: “Freedom breeds inequality.” If liberty is violated in the pursuit of equality, not only will freedom be lost, but the hoped-for equality will not materialize.

Nixon’s presidency achieved increased opportunities for African-Americans primarily by restraining the government. Between 1968 and 1972, Nixon received increasing support from Black voters, who were encouraged by his actions. The early to mid 1970s are often considered be the end of what historians call ‘the civil rights era,’ as most of the goals of the original civil rights movement had been met.

Friday, March 9, 2018

An Insider’s View: The Sinister Rigidity of Upper-Middle-Class Progressivist America (Part 5)

Although some of them embrace various theologies, progressives are generally suspicious of religion. Those who do accept some manner of religious belief either tend toward institutions which place minimal intellectual commitments on participants (e.g., the Unitarian Universalist Church, or the leftist fringe of the Episcopal-Anglican communion), or they engage in some unique, self-generated, idiopathic spirituality.

Progressives distrust organized religion, and especially the organized religion of someone whose political views diverge from doctrinaire leftism.

The Judeo-Christian tradition, as it exists within Western Civilization, is a favorite target for progressives. It is assumed that such a religious belief system has a symbiotic relationship with racism, sexism, and bigotry of all sorts: in the mind of the progressive, racism causes religion, and religion causes racism.

This dogma is so deeply entrenched in the progressive mind that it is not shaken by allusions to, e.g., Martin Luther King’s founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in conjunction with the Montgomery bus boycott, or his collaboration with Billy Graham.

Likewise, the progressive’s belief that Christianity is evil is not shaken by the role of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the grand historical developments which led to the abolition of slavery and led to women’s suffrage.

When people diverge from the orthodox progressive view on any controversial social question, progressives routinely blame historical Christianity, despite the fact that large and significant numbers of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists also depart from the progressivist views on such social issues.

On religion and social issues, just as on economic matters, progressivists seem unable to see as reasonable any views except their own. The automatic attribution of racism and sexism to anyone who opposes the progressivist agenda reveals a lack of imagination.

Many progressivists also find it difficult to contemplate evidence which points to the failure of progressive policies - that programs designed to reduce poverty actually increase it, that programs designed to reduce crime really increase it, etc.

Progressivism is often characterized by the habit of dismissing both spirituality and liberty. It wrongly attributes all manner of evil to Western Civilization’s Judeo-Christian tradition, but denies the social good which this tradition accomplished. Likewise, it attributes both ill motives and ill effects to personal political liberty and to free markets, but refuses to acknowledge the opportunities which are thereby created.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

An Insider’s View: The Sinister Rigidity of Upper-Middle-Class Progressivist America (Part 4)

To live and work in a community filled largely with people who identify themselves as ‘progressives’ is to gain a certain insight both into their world and into their worldview.

Many of them, on a personal level, are friendly and even kind.

Progressivism, however, manifests itself within them as a rigidity of thought. A significant number of them imagine that racism and a desire to inflict suffering on the lower classes are the only possible motives for endorsing lower tax rates.

They cannot entertain even as a remote possibility that a proposal to reduce taxes would be motivated by a sincere wish to ease the burdens on the middle and lower classes, and a desire to create economic opportunities which could lift workers out of the bottommost classes.

Likewise, many progressives cannot conceptualize that deregulation, e.g., the easing of zoning ordinances about which buildings might be constructed on which types of real estate, as a principle could provide opportunities for creative and self-empowered economic activity on the parts of individuals in a society.

Progressives often find it difficult to belief that regulation in the forms of various licenses or permits often constitutes an obstacle to creating opportunities - equal opportunities - for workers and entrepreneurs of any race. The opportunities created by deregulation are paths out of poverty.

It is probably worthwhile to attempt to make a distinction between hardcore progressives, on the one hand, and on the other hand, voters who vote in line with the progressive agenda because they’re surrounded almost exclusively by people and media which endorse it.

Many progressives are dismissive of “outside information that doesn’t support” their agendas and “their belief system,” in the words of an anonymous author on the “Alternet” website.

They cling tightly to the notion that anyone who opposes their candidates or legislative initiatives must be a racist. Anything introduced as evidence to the contrary will be dismissed a priori as false.

Progressives usually simply ignore the leadership and accomplishments of women and men like Condoleezza Rice, J.C. Watts, Herman Cain, Alan Keyes, and many others. On those rare occasions when the existence of such people is acknowledged, they are written off as bribed or brainwashed, or simply labeled Uncle Tom.

When deregulation and tax cuts create jobs for African-American workers and Hispanic workers, and create opportunities for Black entrepreneurs and Latino entrepreneurs, progressive media outlets simply ignore these events.

When private sector corporations, not government agencies, create a system to fund ‘entrepreneurs of color’ in downtown Detroit, and when that model is copied by business communities in other cities, progressives merely bemoan a lack of taxpayer funded initiatives to deal with a situation which the private sector is already in the process of fixing.

Certainly, it would not be fair to expect members of the progressivist movement to embrace the very views which they reject, and which their movement was designed to undermine. But in rational discourse, it would be sensible to expect that they should at least understand the internal logic of opposing views, if for no other reason than to better argue against them.

But progressives do not seem to truly understand the notion that a free market, as opposed to a crony or statist system, is the best source of equal opportunity for individuals of any race, religion, ethnicity, culture, gender, or other demographic variable.

Historically, deregulation has been the chief effective opponent of racism: eliminating ‘Jim Crow’ laws was a form of deregulation. Rosa Parks fought against government regulations about the riders of a government-owned transportation agency.

The fugitive slave laws were examples of positive legislation promoting racism. Getting rid of them was an example of deregulation. Segregation was legislated, and enforcing it was a government program.

An entrepreneur hopes to, and will be successful only as long as she or he does, manufacture the largest possible amount of high-quality product at low prices. A laissez-faire economy cannot and will not bother to look at the color of a person’s skin.

Progressives usually assume or believe that anyone who does not enthusiastically support their candidates or legislative initiatives is a racist or a misogynist.

There is nothing less racist than a free market. This is a concept with progressives cannot entertain or understand.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

An Insider’s View: The Sinister Rigidity of Upper-Middle-Class Progressivist America (Part 3)

As a social or psychological phenomenon, progressivism began as an idealistic program of reform. Its first major appearance was in the early 1900s, and among the earlier followers of progressives like Woodrow Wilson, there were some who sincerely believed that they could benefit the nation, or even the world, with their progressive policies.

At some point, however, a segment within the progressive movement began to operate rather cynically, maintaining the rhetoric of political reform, social reform, and economic reform, but using that wording to cover their motives of self-interest.

The cynics within the progressive movement could exploit their more naive fellows.

Although progressivism did manage to implement some of its policies during various segments of American political history, it did not achieve consistent power: Coolidge was able to restore fiscal balance after Wilson’s excesses; Reagan was able to moderate some of Carter’s more bizarre actions.

Even during those time periods in which progressives managed to hold power and enforce their policies, they did not obtain the results they sought. Wilson’s extreme intervention into the economy didn’t bring about the benefits he hoped to obtain.

Over the course of the twentieth century, progressivism became frustrated, and frustration led to anger. Fear joined anger: fear that the progressive agenda would not be implemented or would not succeed if implemented. Additionally, progressivist propaganda generated fear in order to prompt the voters to embrace progressivism, warning the voters about some looming disaster which could be avoided only by adopting progressivist policies.

Characterized by fear and anger, later versions of progressivism operated mainly by catastrophizing and demonizing: to adopt progressive policies was to avoid a catastrophe; to reject progressive policies or candidates was a catastrophe. Candidates or policies which were not progressive were not merely wrong, they were evil, and had to be opposed at all costs.

Cynics fostering fear and anger; fear and anger leading to catastrophization and demonization: the electorate seemed to grow weary of this version of progressivism.

By November 2016, the voters saw Hillary Clinton as someone who promoted fear and anger, and who relied on that fear and anger to fuel her political activities. Whether or not Hillary herself was an angry person didn’t matter. Voters perceived that she needed and wanted the voters to be angry and afraid, and that she was working to ensure that they were.

Whether or not she had goals and a vision, Hillary was perceived as a candidate who was primarily “against” something, and who did not have a constructive or affirmative vision for the nation’s future. She didn’t communicate specific policy goals, although she may have had them posted on her campaign’s website.

By contrast, Donald Trump, despite his rhetorical flaws, projected a positive vision for the nation’s future and specific policy goals.

The progressive establishment co-opts and subverts educational institutions as one of its primarily vehicles. This has led to a skepticism among voters about some aspects of education. The influence of progressivism on schools, colleges, and universities is a complex phenomenon which would require a longer narrative than will be presented here. But because of progressivist influences, certain segments of the educational establishment have lost credibility in the minds of the voters.

The “insider’s view” of one who lives and works a community filled primarily with progressive voters reveals that they are often rather nice and friendly people, but they find it nearly impossible to entertain certain ideas.

Many progressives cannot believe, e.g., that anything brought forth under the title “tax cut” can be beneficial to middle-income and lower-income citizens. For the progressive, it is an article of faith that “tax cut” is always an excuse to line pockets of those who are already wealthy, and to do so at the expense of the poor. Despite any empirical or mathematical evidence, the progressive cannot, and will not, consider the possibility that tax cuts allow middle-income and lower-income citizens to retain more of their own hard-earned wages.

Likewise, progressives largely believe that any form of deregulation cannot have beneficial effects. They are incapable of entertaining even the possibility that deregulation of certain industries could create well-paying jobs and lift people out of poverty.

Reason would not demand, of course, that progressives accept ideas which are contrary to their own ideology. But reason would demand that they at least understand or explore such ideas, if for no other reason than to produce counterarguments. Instead, progressives reject such ideas out of hand, as if they are a priori identifiable as nonsensical gibberish.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

An Insider’s View: The Sinister Rigidity of Upper-Middle-Class Progressivist America (Part 2)

In the wake of the November 2016 presidential election in the United States, the ‘progressive movement’ was left in shock. Its followers did not understand how or why they had lost.

Why hadn’t the voters given an overwhelming landslide victory to the progressives? In the words of an anonymous author at the ‘Alternet’ website, many of the progressives

don't understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of the choices they’ve made and the horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe.

The big surprise was that many African-American voters, and many Latino voters, chose to vote against Hillary Clinton. The progressives were mystified. Although Hillary styled herself as a progressive who would be a messiah for the Black and Hispanic voters, her assumptions were in fact quite racist: she assumed that African-Americans and Latinos were obliged to vote for her simply because they were African-Americans and Latinos.

This is the essence of progressive ‘identity politics’ - Hillary assumed that people vote a certain way because they belong to a racial or cultural demographic group.

It had not occurred to the progressives that people might vote based on their desires for economic opportunity or their desires for political liberty.

Progressivism contains a hidden but patronizing and condescending racism within its ideology. It assumes that Blacks and Hispanics, rather than seek opportunity in the economic sphere, should and would seek security and dependence.

Because progressivism’s assumption is wrong, Donald Trump received more African-American and Latino votes than Mitt Romney or John McCain.

To dwell among progressives is, in the words of the anonymous ‘Alternet’ author, to listen “to their political rants” and wince “at their racist/bigoted jokes and epithets.” The progressives who present themselves as the ones who will end racism are in fact the ones who perpetuate racism.

A free market economy is the least racist thing in the world. It doesn’t care about the color of one’s skin; it cares about the amount of effort one produces.

Under the tutelage of progressives, American towns “go from a robust economy with well-kept homes and infrastructure to a struggling economy with shuttered businesses, dilapidated homes and a broken-down infrastructure,” as the ‘Alternet’ writer phrases it. Progressives express rage at these conditions, but don’t understand that their policies have caused it, and don’t understand that continuing their policies will only amplify the misery.

Progressives “don’t understand themselves or the reasons for their anger and frustration.”

Instead of data about society and about the changing beliefs of voters, progressivism “has shaped most of their belief systems.” Progressives seek to redistribute wealth, and to regulate the distribution of benefits and opportunities. They failed to internalize that people - of all races, cultures, and religions - value opportunities and freedoms.

“Systems built on a” progressivist “framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, or change. When you have a belief system built on” progressivism, “it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power.”

In other words, the progressives were certain that Americans wanted them to intervene in economy, in education, and in social trends. They couldn’t, or wouldn’t, believe that voters wanted an energized economy at home, and a strong national image abroad. Progressivism

doesn’t understand itself and will never listen to anyone outside its bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use … if you are viewed as an outsider, your views will be automatically discounted.

Progressives have so thoroughly internalized their foundational assumptions that when outside voices “present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they will not even entertain the possibility that it might be true.”

For example, progressives simply can’t bring themselves to believe that poverty can be alleviated by deregulating industries - that such deregulation would spur economic growth, creating not only jobs, but jobs that pay well.

Because they can’t conceptualize such dynamics, they were mystified, and remain puzzled, at the results of the November 2016 election.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

An Insider’s View: The Sinister Rigidity of Upper-Middle-Class Progressivist America (Part 1)

In the wake of the November 2016 U.S. presidential election, an anonymous author on the ‘Alternet’ website wrote:

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: “Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.”

As the author notes, this analysis is at best incomplete. It is a misdirect. At worst, it’s simply wrong. President Trump received more votes from African-Americans and from Latinos than anyone expected him to receive, and he received more votes from them than any other candidate from his party (McCain or Romney) had received in decades.

Among many questions, one is this: Why did so many Blacks and Hispanics vote for Trump, especially when they were being told that Trump wasn’t their candidate?

Conversely, why did so many African-Americans and Latinos decide to vote against Hillary Clinton?

While it is true, in the words of the anonymous author, that there are “East Coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America,” that’s not the whole story. The larger narrative cuts across racial, regional, or class groups.

Voters of various demographic groups simply had a hard time believing that Hillary Clinton had their best interests at heart. Donald Trump spoke about revitalizing the national economy and creating jobs. He spoke of the United States as something respectable, and that, in a community of nations, the United States deserves respect.

By contrast, Hillary Clinton’s message to Blacks and Hispanics was that they should vote for her because they owed allegiance and loyalty to her and to her party. She demanded, expected, and assumed that they would vote for her. They responded by doing the opposite.

The argument that the Democratic Party ‘failed to understand’ the voters is incomplete. In certain situations, Hillary Clinton’s organization may have understood the voters, but either ignored them, or expected party loyalty to overcome the hardships which they were enduring.

Under the Obama administration, African-American incomes and employment reached all-time lows. African-American unemployment reached all-time highs. Hillary Clinton gave no indication that her policies would diverge from Obama’s policies.

During the first year of the Trump administration, Black employment and incomes reached all-time highs, and Black unemployment reached all-time lows. Likewise Latino unemployment reached record lows, and Latino incomes and employment reached all-time highs.

Perhaps Hillary forgot her own slogan: “It’s the economy.” Economic freedom and personal liberty do not know race, religion, region, or culture.

Trump’s simple slogans connected with a sentiment among the voters: the notion that they were tired of sacrificing their personal incomes, their net worths, and their standards of living for some vague globalist ideals promoted jointly by Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Voters were tired of being told to endure shrinking personal freedoms for the sake of some ambiguous hope or fear. The Obama-Clinton message was that the citizens should make sacrifices, not to defend the nation against some existential threat like an attacking military force, but rather to fuel dubious causes.

Trump’s uncomplicated message was that he would simply do what’s best for the nation. Trump said that he would make calculations based on measures like employment, income levels, and economic growth levels.

Although the United States has had a number of presidents who graduated from Ivy League universities, Trump is the first one to have studied economics at an Ivy League university. Perhaps some of Trump’s policies, and their successes, can be traced to the fact that he is, at heart, an economist.