Dec 25, 2010

The rise of the right, from Billy Graham to the Tea Party

Mother Jones has an interview with historian Darren Dochuk about his new book, From Bible Belt to Sun Belt: Plainfolk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism. The book examines migrants to California in the 1950s and 1960s, looking at the evangelical Christian communities they formed and the conservative politics that grew out of those communities, and traces right-wing politics forward to the end of the twentieth century.

In the interview, Dochuk talks about how right-wing politics since the 1960s has been largely focused on the issue of taxation. He argues that we shouldn't separate "social conservatives" from "fiscal conservatives": "In reality I think there's more continuity there than anything," he says, "and evangelical conservatives are the bridge between the two." Excessive taxation leads to big government, conservatives say, and big government intervenes in social issues in unacceptable ways.

The thing that always kills me about this is that these people were drawn to California by military jobs during and after World War II. Other historians have also written about the roots of the New Right in California in the postwar decades. Modern California was basically built with federal government dollars funneled through military bases and private contractors building things for the armed services, so these anti-taxation people who have dominated American politics for the past half-century: their livelihoods depended on big government.

No comments:

Post a Comment