“Constitution” As a Dog Whistle

James Kwak finds an interesting historical footnote about the link between calling something ‘constitutional’ and reactionary politics:

But I think Phillips-Fein’s book strengthens the relative position of the pro-business, anti-union, anti-regulation strand in the genealogy of the conservative movement (as opposed to the family values strand, or the true libertarian strand).

It also contains this gem for anyone who thinks the American people suddenly developed warm and fuzzy feelings about the Constitution in the past two years. Describing the 1934 founding of the American Liberty League—a rabidly anti-Roosevelt, anti-New Deal organization—she writes (p. 10):

“The main topic of discussion was creating a ‘propertyholders’ association,’ as Irénée [DuPont] put it, to disseminate ‘information as to the dangers to investors’ posed by the New Deal. The group decided that the name of their association should not refer directly to property—it would be better to frame their activities as a broad defense of the Constitution.”

Movement conservatives are neo-feudalists, although it never occurs to them that there are always far more serfs than masters–and they might not be the masters.

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