The Trumper in 1950s America

This is the day after Christmas (went well incl. one grandson on leave from USMC with boot camp behind him) and it has been a few days since I read much except for Hatemonger and Soul of America and Caste. Meacham in Soul gives an account of FDR that made me go to Amazon after finding no useful reviews or recommendations on FDR books. I went to Amazon because a lot of people send in their reviews (which I do any time they ask) and by reading them over you get a feel for what is in the book and how reliable it is (since I have only one fiction/novel on the list – Allende). Three fit my criterion which was that it show the development of his strategies for solving political problems as well as economic and military ones. I’ll order one, probably today and probably Dallek or Daniels – no, both b/c one is only 8.00. I am REALLY looking forward to reading those. OTOH, Jean Edward Smith’s book has this as the initial sentence in a review: “If you want to understand how FDR came to be president, what his views were, and what made him such an effective leader, this book is for you.” However, it is huge and covers much more while the other two seem to focus on understanding his approach.

The following quotes from Richard Hofstadter in the ’50s taken from Soul could be transported to today with a perfect fit. A classical understanding of conservatism did not animate what he labeled the pseudo-conservative (a real conservative recognizes the limits of human reform and is skeptical of far-reaching public initiatives); instead the psuedo-conservative’s views were as expansive as those of liberals, designing a vast scope for the ideology.

“Who is the pseudo-conservative, and what does he want? It is impossible to identify him by social class, for the pseudo-conservative impulse can be found in practically all classes in society, although its power probably rests largely upon its appeal to the less educated members of the middle classes. The ideology of pseudo-conservatism can be characterized but not defined, because the pseudo-conservative tends to be more than ordinarily incoherent about politics…. The restlessness, suspicion and fear shown in various phases of the pseudoconservative revolt give evidence of the real suffering which the pseudo-conservative experiences in his capacity as a citizen. He believes himself to be living in a world in which he is spied upon, plotted agaisnt, betrayed, and very likely destined for total ruin. He feels that his liberaties have been arbitrarily and outrageously invaded…. the pretended issues of politics become interwoven with and ependent upon the personal problems of individuals.”

Hofstadter contrasts interest politics and status politics. I think Karen Armstrong might have seen Hofstadter’s status politics as equivalent to her identity politics.




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