Calhoun Didn’t Invent the Filibuster

It seems politicos on the left and right agree that if you want Americans to believe in your cause, you need to demonize John C. Calhoun.

To the right, Calhoun is evil. To the left, Calhoun is evil.

Both are wrong. We’ve lost all concept of the meaning of that term, something I’ll cover later this week on The Brion McClanahan Show.

But until then, the left has been running around for months talking about the filibuster. Their standard talking point involves calling it “evil” because supposedly John C. Calhoun invented it.

Except he didn’t. I was pleasantly surprised when Robert Elder penned a piece making that point. I have been highly critical of Elder’s book. He’s a nice fellow, but he also realizes that getting ahead in the academy requires genuflecting to the right gods.

In this case, you can’t say much that’s good about Calhoun.

It doesn’t offer the right sacrifice to the woke goddesses at establishment universities.

That’s why Elder’s piece is surprising. He attempts to use the correct language, but he doesn’t realize that he has now crossed the Rubicon. You can’t get away with not demonizing Calhoun, even if what you are saying is correct.

Calhoun has become the American Hitler, the thing that should not be.

This analogy is stupid, of course. Calhoun wasn’t an ideologue, and he certainly never advanced genocide.

That doesn’t matter to the left. He was a racist (so was almost everyone in 1837) and he thought slavery as it existed in 1837–not as an abstraction–was a “positive good” for the South.

No one seems to get that. Calhoun also said great things about limitations of power, republican government, and the Constitution. He was a real thinker, the most important of his generation, and both the left and the right could find things to admire about his views on government if they took the 2X4 out of their eyes.

Of course, it really doesn’t matter. The left and the Straussian/neoconservative right can keep hammering Calhoun because no one knows enough about the man to defend him, and if you can blame everything on the South and Calhoun, you deflect the real location of political backwardness in America: Yankees (not Northerners, many of whom are good people).

I discuss Elder’s piece, Calhoun, and the filibuster on Episode 518 of The Brion McClanahan Show.

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