Kevin M. Kruse & Julian E. Zelizer
Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974
New York: Norton & Company, Inc., 2019
Professors Kevin Kruse and Julian Zelizer have written a book in which they argue that the fault lines of America’s polarized political culture started to emerge around 1974. The main political trends that year were the Watergate scandal, rising crime, the unsatisfactory end to the Vietnam War, and the accelerating deindustrialization across the Rust Belt and other parts of America.
The authors say the same basic things about the chaotic environment of the 1970s as Rick Pearlstein does in his book The Invisible Bridge (2014). They also discuss the important cultural works of the time, including Taxi Driver (1976) and Network (1976). Both movies explore the incredible frustration of the public over the abovementioned issues.
After 1974, a new conservativism became a major force in American politics. According to the authors, the Religious Right and the secular New Right have been the most prominent of the domestic American political movements ever since. This Right-wing force is the front rank of the fault lines in America’s polarized political climate.
I agree with that basic theme, although I don’t think it is well presented in the book. The technocratic Leftism, heavily Jewish, that was so prominent in the early 1960s was a package of ideas and racial interests that had been advancing through American society since the late 1870s. Part of the counter-culture of the late 1960s and turn to the Right in the 1970s was a reaction by American whites to the disasters caused by technocratic Leftism — the Vietnam War and “civil rights” in particular. It is a new intellectual movement with ferocious adversaries in the mainstream media so it was then and remains now a bumpy ride with plenty of bad press.
One such Religious Right activist mentioned is Anita Bryant. Bryant was an evangelical Protestant singer from the 1950s who led a reaction against militant homosexuality. She likely derailed the militant gay movement for decades. In the late 1970s, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was on the verge of ratification, but Phyllis Schlafly recognized that the ERA would strip away traditional common law protections for women and created a powerful movement that eventually defeated the ERA by 1982. The conservative activist Paul Weyrich also organized Christian social conservatives — both Catholics and Protestants — into a formidable force.
Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. He courted social and religious conservatives, but did very little for them. After his election, Reagan’s popularity dropped and his agenda was likely to be stalled, but he was shot by a mentally ill man in 1981. As a result of this shooting, Reagan’s popularity soared and much of his agenda made it through Congress. Reagan wasn’t president at the end of the Cold War, but his administration’s policies destroyed the Soviet Union. Reagan’s foreign policy was a success, his domestic revolution — only a partial victory.
Cable TV and the Internet
On the day of the attempted assassination of President Reagan, CNN was ahead of all the other networks in announcing the news. This scoop was the result of a revolution in communications that was quietly occurring. It started when engineers and technicians set up an antenna in a good spot (such as a hilltop) and then ran cable from it to the television sets of the community. This allowed for a clearer TV picture. Shortly thereafter, larger companies expanded upon the idea, and new networks grew up that specialized in particular areas, ESPN for sports, HBO for movies, and most importantly CNN, for broadcast news.
The cable TV revolution created a social revolution that continues today. As a result of cable TV’s unlimited ability to produce different types of shows and channels, viewers divided into many subcultural groups. In the 1950s, the entire nation got its news and pop culture music from a very small selection of sources. Due to cable’s arrival in the 1980s, music fans, for example, had become divided into fans of different musical denominations. There were punk rockers, heavy metal fans, etc. News became a mix of entertainment and political slant. The proliferation of the video cassette recorder (VCR) allowed another vice to flourish — pornography. Cell phones and personal computers further dialed in people to a massive, but potentially narrow information network. The internet became available to households by the mid-1980s.
The Pattern is Firmly Set
By the end of the 1980s, the pattern for modern American polarization first formed in 1974 was firmly set. While at the private level, American culture was becoming crasser, especially with pornography, at the public level, many politicians became increasingly prude. Congress had hearings on violent video games and dirty lyrics in songs. Although it wasn’t apparent at the time, the Gulf War pulled the United States deeper into the quagmire of the Middle East. An economic recession in the early 1990s (which put the fathers of several of my high school friends out of work) helped Bill Clinton defeat Reagan’s successor the centrist George H. W. Bush. Clinton was a deeply flawed man, but overall he was very successful. He also talked a Leftist game, but did many Rightist things. His greatest act was the 1994 Crime Bill that ended a massive, sub-Saharan crime wave that had been ongoing for three decades.
Meanwhile, the Republicans played a scorched-earth political game. Clinton was impeached for a private matter while Islamic terrorists gathered strength. The Democratic Party covered for the FBI and ATF after the Waco fiasco even after both agencies failed to prevent the first World Trade Center bombing. George W. Bush campaigned on cultural issues, but his disastrous war in Iraq also damaged the Religious Right. Obama was elected as a reconciler, but he too faced ferocious political polarization.
Critical Analysis: D+ at Best
The book is a solid recounting of the near half-century between Watergate and the Trump administration, but it has several flaws. The flaw from which all others flow is the intellectual smugness of the authors. This smugness comes out in phrases like “lily-white suburbs.” Why not balance that morally loaded phrase with one about “coal-black inner-city ghettos?” Likewise, in online interviews, they talk credulously about issues smug liberals believe in, such as “climate change.”  Thus the book recounts some facts, but contains few insights.
The authors don’t grasp, summarize, or attempt to explain exactly why so many intelligent people, such as Phyllis Schlafly, embark on personally risky Right-wing crusades that go against the Establishment.
I’ll add that they didn’t read or attempt to understand the most serious Right-wing book circulating in 1974, The Dispossessed Majority (1972). In that book, Wilmot Robertson describes American politics as a clash between minorities — Jews and sub-Saharan Africans especially — and “the Majority,” white Americans with roots among the colonial settlers or other Northern and Western Europeans. This is the central issue facing America then and today and understanding it clarifies many issues.
I’ll argue that most of the social issues in today’s polarized political environment are proxy wars for the racial clash described by Wilmot Robertson. A perfect example of this is the January 18, 2019 incident between high school boys from Covington Catholic High School, an Indian beating a drum, and “Black Hebrews.” The boys were in Washington for the March for Life Rally, an anti-abortion demonstration. The Indian beat a drum in the face of one of the young men while the “Black Hebrew” activists shouted insults at the boys. CNN deceptively described the event as whites harassing a “tribal elder.”
None of it was true and CNN had to pay settlements to the boys. In fact, the March for Life attendees and the non-whites were not in DC for ideologically opposing goals. The pro-Life movement isn’t technically about race. But it is a proxy for race. CNN, the “tribal elder,” and the “Black Hebrews” understood that fact very well.
Critical Analysis: “Civil Rights” Problems, Watergate, and Media Bias
The authors do argue that the “civil rights” movement was a major driver of polarization. They write:
The civil rights and immigration reforms of the mid-1960s succeeded in tearing down old walls of division, but in the rubble that remained it became increasingly difficult to discern anything that resembled a coherent or cohesive “American” identity. Rather than adopt the mainstream values of the white majority and adapt to its culture, racial and ethnic minorities increasingly sorted themselves into communities they made on their own terms and in their own images. (pp. 55 & 56)
However, they don’t seriously look at the problems within “civil rights” that impacted American whites (i.e. Wilmot Robertson’s American Majority). The 1964 Civil Rights Act is an illicit second constitution that tramples upon white interests. This Act empowers any group that can analogize to the situation of Negroes in the 1950s South. This includes immigrant terrorists, men pretending to be women, etc. Furthermore, sub-Saharans failed to live up to their end of the bargain. Implied in the act was avoiding crime, serving on a jury in good faith, etc. That did not happen.
Sub-Saharan behavior coupled with non-white immigration means that no white can genuinely trust a member of the Democratic Party or those advancing the interests of “marginalized” groups. “Civil rights” is a racial attack — an attempt to overwhelm and suppress whites. Additionally, believers in “civil rights” misread data. “Civil rights” supporters must point the arrow of causality regarding social problems the wrong way. With “civil rights,” it’s “police violence,” not sub-Saharan crime — a Muslim ban becomes “baseless,” rather than a rational response to considerable Islamist violence, etc. This fact is often understood by many, but cannot be expressed due to the social victory of “civil rights.”
In Fault Lines, the various stories of black thugs killed by whites, such as Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, are presented through the lens of the mainstream media rather than the larger story of black misbehavior driving events that came out on the internet or during the various event-related trials. The deliberate misinformation regarding the Martin & Brown deaths exemplified by media-promoted pictures of Trayvon Martin as a child rather than showing pictures closer to his older and more menacing age at death makes one wonder if the pictures of Emmett Till shown by the media in the 1950s were equally disingenuous.
It is often impossible for sensitive whites, however liberal, to not eventually notice sub-Saharan pathology, low IQ, and poor thinking. The late Lawrence Auster, a onetime hippie, wrote the following about how noticing sub-Saharan thinking patterns raised his sense of racial awareness:
Following the arguments and actions of black leaders, and listening to black callers on talk radio, led me over several years to an increasingly bleak view of black thinking styles. For one thing, it seemed to me that many blacks have a marked tendency to pick up some slogan and then just use it without much logical connection to the subject at hand. I also became increasingly aware of the “hustle,” the way many blacks at all levels – from street people and politicians to celebrated “intellectuals” like Cornel West – did not use ideas as ideas, but as a hustle, as a way of manipulating people’s feelings. Suggestibility and the substitution of rhetoric for reason are general human weaknesses, but it seemed to me that these failings were noticeably more pronounced among blacks. Of course there are many blacks who are rational and logical and intellectually competent. But the preponderance of irrationality among the black population is hard to ignore.
Watergate wasn’t a particularly heinous or unusual political dirty trick. Kennedy and Johnson had employed plenty of similar tricks on Nixon going back at least until 1960. The source for the scandal, “Deep Throat,” was a disgruntled FBI agent who was angry he was passed over for the top job. When this came out, one could wonder if the pious pronouncements of outrage from the press regarding Nixon’s “cover-up” were genuine or cynical ploys to remove a man they’d long hated. None at the time recognized that the FBI had become a political actor in its own right; a semi-competent Pretorian Guard unable to protect America, but able to jealously guard its own privileges and funding streams.
Likewise, Watergate should be seen as a pyrrhic victory for the mainstream media. Prior to 1974, a single media figurehead, such as Walter Cronkite, could change the minds of millions with a thirty-second editorial. After Nixon and Watergate, the pretense of media neutrality was destroyed, and Nixon staffers such as the late Roger Ailes moved to create media outlets outside the mainstream.
The End Super Tuesday Suggestion
All white advocates should work to destroy the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but in the short term, I suggest ending Super Tuesday to reduce polarization. In the primary season, most of the South holds their primaries on the same day — “Super Tuesday.” This creates a situation where the Democratic candidate for president must appeal to sub-Saharan voters to pull ahead of the pack. As a result, sub-Saharan issues have come to be the overriding concern for the Democratic Party. Naturally, whites must resist Democrats this since sub-Saharan criminality and pathologies are such overwhelming issues. If the states of the South held their primaries on different days and wait until later in the primary season to hold their vote, this situation would change somewhat.
* * *
Counter-Currents has extended special privileges to those who donate $120 or more per year.
- First, donor comments will appear immediately instead of waiting in a moderation queue. (People who abuse this privilege will lose it.)
- Second, donors will have immediate access to all Counter-Currents posts. Non-donors will find that one post a day, five posts a week will be behind a “paywall” and will be available to the general public after 30 days.
To get full access to all content behind the paywall, sign up here:
 Climate change is very likely a necessary prop for the Democratic Party. It is a vague threat that offends no group within the party, and the predictions of doom never come to pass. But it has the ability to unite the various factions of that party while suppressing the jobs of working-class whites – the group that the Democratic Party elite has come to loathe and fear. When the Republicans return to power, they’ll need to present a considerable body of evidence showing that Climate Change is a myth. This effort will need to involve scientists, a marketing campaign, and present historical evidence for the falsity of earlier declarations of doom (in the 1970s there were predictions of a new Ice Age). Meanwhile, they still must protect the environment.
Enjoyed this article?
Be the first to leave a tip in the jar!
Lamentations for a City
Jonathan Bowden’s The Cultured Thug
Where the Dissident Right Triumphs
Are We (Finally) Living in the World of Atlas Shrugged? Part 2
The Suppression of the Maryland Moderates During the Civil War
Are We (Finally) Living in the World of Atlas Shrugged? Part 1
Horses and Heavy Hors d’Oeuvres
G. Gordon Liddy’s When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country, Part 2