Dean Clough

December 8, 2021

Portico Darwin: No Laughing Matter

Today, I give you the brilliant Heather Cox Richardson.  Dr. Richardson is an acknowledged expert on American history; I am not.

Senate Republicans will not issue any sort of a platform before next year’s midterm elections.  At a meeting of donors and lawmakers in mid-November, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the Republican Party’s 2024 nominee would be responsible for deciding on an agenda.  The Republican senators in 2022 will simply attack the Democrats.

Rather than advancing a positive program, Republican Senators will be focusing on culture wars.  Those have devolved to a point that Republicans are denying the legitimacy of any Democratic victory because, by their definition, Democrats are destroying the country.  As Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said yesterday in a video from a parked car: “Joe Biden is a communist.  And that’s what the Democrats are—they’re communists.  A lot of people are swallowing down the word ‘socialist,’ but...they are communists.”

In fact, the Democratic Party advocates neither socialism nor communism.  Socialism is a system of government in which the means of production are owned by the government and, through the government—theoretically—by the people.  Communism is the final stage of that form of social organization.  It abolishes private ownership of land, farms, and factories, giving control of all those things to the state, which, in turn, provides everyone with jobs, housing, education, and medical care.

Democrats are a far cry from calling for this system of government.  What they are calling for is for us to maintain the system of government we have had in this country since 1933.  In that year, under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the government began to regulate business, provide a basic social safety net, and promote infrastructure projects that were too big or unprofitable for private industry.  In the years after World War II, Republicans joined Democrats in advocating this system, which filed the sharp edges off unrestrained capitalism and stabilized the economy, preventing another depression.

On Tuesday, Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH) called out the political reality of today’s America.  “What you’re seeing here before the United States Congress is two clear, different visions of America and where we want to go and what we want to do,” he said.  He insisted that “a strong middle class” after World War II was key to our national prosperity.  “Our greatest strength has been we reinvested into the United States.  We reinvested into our communities.  We invested in the technologies, and we dominated the industries:  steel, glass, aerospace.” he said.  He called out Republicans for their opposition to that reinvestment into America:  “And now we're hearing from the other side, ‘Shut government down, don’t do anything.  We don’t want to be an honest broker.’  Tyranny?” he said, “What are you people talking about?  We’re talking about universal preschool, and they have it as a communist indoctrination of the American student.  It’s insane . . . we have to rebuild our country!”

The American horror of socialism came long before Russia’s 1917 Bolshevik Revolution tried to put socialism into practice.  Americans began to worry about socialism in 1871, the year after the federal government started to protect Black male voting with the Fifteenth Amendment.  Also in 1870, Congress had established the Department of Justice to guarantee that Black southerners could enjoy the rights former Confederates were trying to terrorize them out of.  Suddenly, attacking their Black neighbors on the basis of race became unconstitutional, and the federal government began to prosecute those who did so.

In 1871, unreconstructed white southerners began to argue that they did not object to Black rights on racial grounds—which was unconstitutional—but objected rather on class grounds.  They did not want Black men voting, they said, because formerly enslaved people were poor and were voting for leaders who promised them things like roads and hospitals.  Those benefits could be paid for only with tax levies, and the only people in the South with property after the war were white.  Thus, Black voting amounted to a redistribution of wealth from white men to Black people, who wanted something for nothing. ‘

Black voting was, one popular magazine insisted, “Socialism in South Carolina.”

After World War II, Americans of all parties rallied around the idea of using the government for the good of the majority.  But the idea that Americans who want the government to work for the good of the community were “socialists” regained traction with the rise of Ronald Reagan to the presidency.  Republicans under Reagan focused on slashing regulations and the social safety net.

But Americans continued to support an active government, and to keep those voters from power, Republicans in the 1990s began to insist that the only way Democrats won elections was through voter fraud.  Those false allegations have metastasized until we are at a moment when Republicans refuse to believe that a majority of Americans would vote for a Democratic president.

Although Joe Biden won the 2020 election by a majority of more than 7 million votes and by a decisive margin of 306 to 232 in the Electoral College (the same margin Trump had called a “landslide” in 2016), Republicans are doubling down on the idea that the election must have been stolen and they must declare independence from the “socialist” government.


As I say often:  Democrats do not have all or even most or some of the answers.  But they are trying.  Can the same be said of the Republican party?  They endlessly obstruct moving on what Democrats propose, yet offer nothing as an alternative.  For example, do we see any policy proposals here, from the Republican star Nikki Haley?

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This is a complete distortion of the truth and of reality.  Haley - a leader in her party - should be ashamed of herself, as should all Republicans without either the intelligence or courage to propose actual policies.  They debase themselves and our nation with their cynical and mindless name-calling. 

We can and must have better Republican leaders.

I will publish without comment any views that contrast with my own, or Dr. Richardson's.

My timing was perfect for this post today, because a conservative reader of this newsletter had the temerity to send this in.  It's almost like he's following the Republicans' name-calling playbook verbatim . . .

"Starting to bore me . . . you need to dig deeper."

He's calling me boring!  Boring?  Moi?  Narcissistic?  Of course.  Self-absorbed?  Always.  But boring?  Never! 

The reader, the retired off-shore financial puppetmaster Max "Madras" Ryder, has many other diversions, including a wife, a dog, a motorcycle, an impressive wine collection, and about 7 houses, which begs the question:  where does he find the time for this newsletter?  I LOVE YOU MAN!

My better half came through with some very useful information.  I encourage you to download the Radio Garden app and give it a whirl, or just visit  Pretty cool way to discover new music from literally everywhere.  Thank you, Julie!

I was flattered when Hunter Deuce asked me for more info on how I stream and, in general, access music nowadays.  I will share here a dreadfully expanded version of my response to Hunter soon.  It will be as detailed as it will be boring.  You're welcome in advance.

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.

One of my intellectual heroes, George Packer, just wrote this powerful article (it's a PDF link, so you'll have no paywall problems) for the January/February 2022 issue of The Atlantic.  At the end of his essay, he calls for Democrats and non-Trump Republicans of like minds to come together. 

In that spirit, I give you a gorgeous and Diamond Certified album, featuring some the best jazz players of any era.  Here are Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Roy Haynes, and Dave Holland on their album "Like Minds". 


(Frankly, Mr. Packer believes it's either come together, or the US is finished as a liberal democracy.  It's hard to disagree.  I am hopeful a Republican will emerge to unite the country, as I fear if Trump is the nominee, he will end up in office regardless of who is actually elected.)

About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.