There once was a time when I proudly lifted my Republican credentials. I cannot be sure if I was ever really a conservative, back in the 80’s and early in the 90’s it was still possible to embrace the progressive spirit of the Republican platform, the spirit that guided such amazing Presidents like Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower. I continue to embrace some of their cultural values and their stance on issues like abortion and promoting the integrity of the family but by the late 1990’s I was becoming aware of an agenda that concerned me greatly.
The neo-conservative (neo-con) agenda appeared on the scene. Back in the 1990’s the neo-cons developed a policy agenda to promote a dominant American global militarism “to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.”[i] Think tanks like the “Project for a New American Century” (PNAC) and the “American Enterprise Institute” (AEI) went on to create and promote an agenda that merged a vision for a neo-liberal economic vision of privatization and pro-corporate policies with a militaristic American hegemony that would be responsible for stabilizing the world for our economic interest. This economic agenda had been brewing since the Second World War with a form of economic liberalism where the corporate community could dominate the global world within a regime that was completely free of any government regulation.
This vision unnerved me. In studying about World War II and the great American leadership of Franklin D. Roosevelt I learned how at his very last State of the Union address he warned America of the spirit of fascism that was already perceivable in our country:
One of the great American industrialists of our day — a man who has rendered yeoman service to his country in this crisis — recently emphasized the grave dangers of “rightist reaction” in this Nation. Any clear-thinking business men share that (his) concern. Indeed, if such reaction should develop — if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called “normalcy” of the 1920’s — then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of fascism here at home.[ii]
The efforts of the PNAC have paid off, claiming that “Our view has been adopted” and that “the work now is to see how they are implemented.” PNAC policy analyst Gary Schmitt explained why PNAC no longer is necessary and in 2006 PNAC became defunct and Mr. Schmitt migrated to direct strategic studies for AEI.[iii]
The neo-con agenda has become dormant with the Obama administration and perhaps it can be said that by the end of the Bush administration it lost much credibility with the failure in Iraq. But one can certainly see how their agenda and policy is influencing the policies of Paul Ryan, the vice presidential candidate for the 2012 election. In making the recent statement with regards to the Middle East that American foreign policy, “needs moral clarity and firmness of purpose,” New York Times Columnist Maureen Dowd has rightfully recognized that “Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neocon puppet master Dan Senor.” Dowd’s article, “Neocons Slither Back[iv]” suggests that the neo-con agenda has attached itself in molding the policies for these Republican candidates as it did for the Bush administration.
This is the “rightist reaction” that continues to concern me as I look towards the future of this great nation.
[i] Platform for the “Project for a New American Century:” http://www.newamericancentury.org/statementofprinciples.htm
[ii] Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “State of the Union Message to Congress” January 11, 1944
[iii] BBC, “End of the Neo-Con Dream:” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6189793.stm