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They Made A Desert And Called It Peace

Howard Wolfson recently wrote a piece on TNR saying that Nixonland—the politics of dividing Americans against each other along racial and cultural lines, is over. Clinton first began to deal with it by acknowledging the era of big government was over and by going along with Republican takes on crime and welfare. He points out, quite accurately, that the standard Nixonian attacks on Obama haven’t worked, even as Obama has promised to increase the size of the army, indulge in faith based spending and voted for spying on Americans and gutting the 4th amendment when he voted for FISA.  Obama, with his rhetoric of "American problems, not Democratic problems or Republican problems", has ended the politics of Nixonland.

On the one hand, Wolfson using Obama as proof of this is absurd. Could it be that Republicans ran the worst government in decades and lost two wars and that people are angry with them about that? Plus McCain ran a truly awful campaign? It’s clear that Obama is trying to unite the country and end those sort of politics, but whether he has succeeded will be determined not in 2008 but in 2010 and 2012.

But on the other hand, I think Wolfson may be right in a sense. If "ending these sorts of politics" means "embracing Republican beliefs about crime and welfare and the purpose of government; if it means enlarging the army and gutting the 4th amendment so that the government can spy on Americans, then aye, Nixonland is over, because Nixon has won.

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Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh was the Managing Editor of FireDogLake and the Agonist. His work has also appeared at Huffington Post, Alternet, and Truthout, as well as the now defunct Blogging of the President (BOPNews). In Canada his work has appeared in and BlogsCanada. He is also a social media strategy consultant and currently lives in Toronto.

His homeblog is at