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Plus ça change

July 24, 2018

Contrary to the phrase “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” political culture in the United States has changed. Certainly for political conservatives who came of age in the era of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, it appears that “the salt has lost its savor.” In those days, close to thirty-five years ago, we who looked upon ourselves as “conservative” saw that we were members of a community. There were organizations with which we participated, friendships we made and employment that was available to us, the chosen few.

As an aspiring academic, there were any number of places I could attend to earn advanced degrees. Few opportunities to teach what we learned were available, but we were young and opposed to the Establishment. 

That came home to me during the Reagan Administration when a young foreign service officer came to me to say that he was resigning his appointment. No doubt he had passed the very difficult Foreign Service Exam and joined the “Foreign Service” at the U.S. Department of State hoping to represent his country on tours of service abroad. He told me that he was a graduate of a mid-Western university, Nebraska or Oklahoma, and found that his career track was blocked by foreign service “Officers” who were graduates of Yale, Harvard and Princeton.

A colleague from graduate school who joined the CIA the same year as James Brennan became a foreign service “officer” (he was hired even though he told his interviewers that he voted for Earl Browder for President) resigned his appointment because his fellow CIA “Officers” hadn’t a clue about the nature of Marxism-Leninism and the goals of the Soviet Union.

Prior to our coming of age, decisions were made that assured that Mao Tse-tung would control China and that Korea would remain divided though more than 30,000 young Americans, many drafted into military service, were killed by communist Chinese and North Korean military.  In 1961 another President would assure that Cuba remained under the control of a Communist leader, and a wall would divide free Berlin from a Communist East Germany.

We young conservatives reacted by identifying ourselves as conservatives, and prepared for life in a socialist United States dominated abroad by an aggressive, Communist regime in an expanding Soviet Union.

We joined the Goldwater for President campaign in droves and were devastated by our defeat in the Presidential election of 1964. But, total control of the American government by Leftist Democrats began to break as a consequence of a war in Vietnam.

By 1981 when I was a political appointee in the Reagan Administration, significant progress was made by conservatives in politics, but intellectual culture was controlled, as it had been since 1932, by “Progressives.” 

“They” controlled the agencies of the “deep state”–the Department of State, the CIA, the universities, philanthropic foundations and our church denominations. That Progressive domination is now complete and a cultural “rot” pervades American society.  Our music, film, theater, museums, charities and every institution that employs college educated “intellectuals” is in serious decay. 

When was the last time you attended a theatrical production where you would be comfortable taking a young person? What public or private school is “safe” for your children and how many Americans fear that they will “lose” their children when they send them off to college?

That is the moral, cultural and political condition of America today. The more things change, the less they remain the same

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