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Versailles vs Jimmy Carter

DCblogger's picture

Excerpts from Walter Karp's Liberty Under Seige, THE DESTRUCTION OF THE CARTER PRESIDENCY BY THE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS

Most of this I knew, but some of it is new to me.

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Submitted by lambert on

... as being filled with right wing hacks. Instead, it's filled with Democratic luminaries. Oh, wait...

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

CMike's picture
Submitted by CMike on

This Jacob Hacker, Paul Pierson book sort of takes the story from there:

[p. 96] ...The Nixonland narrative dates the moment of change in American politics ten years too early, and it fails utterly to explain the epochal transformation that would occur in the subsequent decade. 1968 was not the great switch point in American politcs. 1978 -- a year that stirs no one's historical passion -- was. Understanding why will bring us much closer to a true undertanding of how Washington works and why it has turned its back on the middle class.

Watch What It Does

Suppose you tried to get a sense of American politics not, as journalists typically do, by looking at campaigns and election outcomes, but by examining what the government was actually doing. Would 1968 or 1972 emerge as a turning point? Absolutely not. Far from being moments of fundamental change, these elections that supposedly redefined America come smack in the middle of the great "bulge" of government activism that runs from, roughly, 1964 to 1977. When it comes to spending, taxation, regualtion, and all the other things that government does, nothing unraveled during "The Unraveling of America." Washington just kept on doing what it had been doing.

We know that LBJ helped usher in a period in which the federal government greatly expanded its reach not just in civil rights but in broad areas of domestic policy and environmental protection. What we often forget is that, in all these areas and more, Washington remained on course following the "crucible" elections of 1968 and 1972.

In fact, the surge of government activism actually accelerated under Nixon -- exactly the opposite of what the conventional story would lead you to expect. Nixon, not Johnson, oversaw the most rapid increase in domestic spending since the New Deal....