Ed Driscoll

Good Company To Be In

In the Washington Examiner, Dave Weigel writes: “GOP Senate Candidate: New Deal Had ‘Much in Common with Mussolini’s Fascism’”:

I’ve been fascinated by the rise of Chuck DeVore, a Republican state assemblyman from California whose grassroots campaign against Sen. Barbara Boxer (R-Calif.) — and against brand-new Republican candidate Carly Fiorina — has transformed the Republican primary from a coronation to a neck-and-neck battle between conservative activists and GOP leaders. When I interviewed DeVore in May, Republican strategists were far more bearish on his chances. Why? To call DeVore an “outspoken conservative” is to make an understatement. Here, for example, is an Amazon.com review, posted by DeVore last week, of Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism.”

… American Progressives and European fascist theorists admired each other and exchanged ideas. From William James to Georges Sorel, from eugenics to the militarization of society (”War on Poverty” anyone? It was William James who penned the “Moral Equivalent of War” in 1906), both the American left and European fascists sought to remake society using crises to urge action to justify bigger government at the expense of individual liberty.

Ronald Reagan had it right in 1981, when he remarked that Roosevelt’s New Deal had much in common with Mussolini’s fascism, including frequent words of praise from Roosevelt’s brain trust directed towards Italy in the 1930s.

Absolutely nothing controversial here from the Tea Party perspective, and the “words of praise” line is accurate. But how will this play in a state that in 2008 gave Barack Obama the biggest Democratic landslide margin since FDR in 1936?

In 1981, the Washington Post ran:

Reagan Still Sure
Some in New Deal Espoused Fascism

President Reagan remains convinced that many New Deal advisors to President Franklin D. Roosevelt espoused fascism and spoke admiringly of Mussolini’s Italian Fascist regime…

It is an idea Reagan first voiced in 1976 and has repeated several times, most recently in an interview with Ben Wattenberg to be broadcast on the Public Broadcasting Service Friday night.

I was happy to meet DeVore at Western CPAC; and while it’s too soon to tell how his campaign will ultimately shake out, kudos for helping to put this forgotten bit of history back into circulation.