I’m struggling to pay attention to the 2020 election.
I’ve tuned out and my mind is elsewhere at the moment. I would rather not wade into politics at the height of election season. I am dreading the outcome because of the potential for violence. If my analysis is correct, this country is a tinderbox full of people who have virtually nothing in common anymore because our culture has been dissolving for a century. It is primed to boil over.
I will say this though.
In researching the 1920s, I have been struck by how little conservative liberalism has changed. In 1920, Warren Harding was elected president after promising America would return to normalcy after twenty years of Progressive upheaval under Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.
Normalcy for conservative liberalism is synonymous with laissez-faire. Once they are elected, their default reflex is to do nothing and let big business have its way. This was what America was like in the 1920s under Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover although they are giants compared to the “National Populism” of the Trump administration and the modern day Republican Party.
Consider the following:
- In 1919, Senate Republicans defeated Woodrow Wilson’s treaty and thwarted America from joining the League of Nations. Warren Harding was elected on an America First platform.
- In the 1920s, the American military demobilized under Republicans and the Washington Conference of 1921/1922 limited a naval buildup. Unimaginable under Donald Trump.
- Overall, America became less interventionist in Latin America and the Caribbean than it had been under Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson in the 1920s. America was never “isolationist” during the 1920s, but it really had meaningfully rejected globalism.
- The United States under Harding signed a separate peace with Germany.
- The Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922 wasn’t a LARP.
- Immigration was drastically restricted by the Immigration Act of 1921 and the Immigration Act of 1924.
- President Herbert Hoover deported over a million illegal aliens.
- Silent Cal cut government spending. He didn’t just LARP about it.
- White Nationalism flourished under Warren Harding. The Second Klan became the largest White Nationalist organization in American history.
- Hollywood agreed to self-censorship and implemented the Hays Code out of fear of government censorship by Republicans.
The GOP did nothing to stop the cultural revolution of the 1920s which ended Victorianism and began Modernism. In the depths of the Great Depression, President Herbert Hoover was also committed to the idea that the government should not intervene in the economy. Generally speaking, conservative liberals do nothing but squat in office when given power, but you got to give Harding, Coolidge and Hoover credit for doing the things that Trump had promised to do in 2016 and didn’t.
In the 1920s, immigration was successfully restricted, the American economy was protected from foreign competition with high tariffs, there was at least some degree of pressure applied on Hollywood to clean up the culture and America decisively rejected globalism in favor of American nationalism. Academics argued over racial equality, but consensus antiracism didn’t exist and wasn’t enforced as the absolute gospel truth by the political establishment. No one was coerced into being anti-White.
In 2020, Trump and the GOP like to project a tough guy populist-nationalist image. They are rhetorically committed to the idea of America First, but really it has been business as usual with only some superficial cosmetic changes. Mainstream conservatism has been in power since 2016.