The American “Illiberal” Tradition?

If you listen to Nikole Hannah-Jones or the West Coast Straussians, you would think that the American tradition is the “proposition nation.” Hannah-Jones doesn’t think anyone was committed to it, while the Straussians argue they were, but those evil Southerners retarded progress and were only turned back by noble Northern abolitionist crusaders in the 19th century.

This would fundamentally mean that “American conservatism” is in fact repackaged liberalism, something Louis Hartz argued about eighty years ago.

In other words, no American conservative tradition existed.

I–and many others–think otherwise, but it’s rare to find a leftist historian who argues the same thing.

Enter Steven Hahn.

Hahn is a died in the wool leftist. He fundamentally believes that Donald Trump and everyone who supports him are fascists. More importantly, he contends that Trump is the full expression of the dominant force in American political history, the “illiberal tradition”.

We would just call it “conservative”.

Hahn wrote a decent book on Southern populists in the 1980s, but his recent work has focused on trashing the South, the American right, and everything associated with it.

He doesn’t like you.

And though he thinks it is little more than a code word for racism, he is honest about the American conservative tradition.

Hahn’s mostly selective history is boiler-plate for the left, as is his summary of modern politics, but he does not appear to buy the “proposition nation” myth even if he thinks the left is the most glorious thing to happen since Charles Darwin argued we descended from apes.

Southerners and Northerners both denied all of those underrepresented people a seat at the table, and no one was really committed to any “liberal” agenda even if they gave it lip service, even 20th century progressives.

That is until now, which is why Trump and MAGA fascists are so dangerous, at least according to Hahn.

His piece was just too good to pass up, so I hammered it on Episode 969 of The Brion McClanahan Show.

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