Jonathan Chait, at New York Magazine, writes about Republicans as the party of white people, about John C. Calhoun’s influence, and about the 1960’s “Southern Strategy”:
“Sam Tanenhaus’s historical essay in the latest edition of the New Republic, on how the GOP is unalterably the party of white America, runs along many of the same lines as my story in last week’s issue of New York. Tanenhaus even discusses in depth the theories of John C. Calhoun, which I mentioned briefly, as did Frank Rich in an essay in the same issue as mine. (For any New York readers surprised at the double citations in a single issue, the explanation is simple: Subscriber surveys have found that our readers want more coverage of mid-priced restaurants south of 50th Street and also much more discussion of the philosophy of John C. Calhoun.) Tanenhaus’s piece is a great read and provides a lot of depth in areas I only touched upon, such as the deep and conscious influence of Calhoun on the twentieth-century thinkers who founded the conservative movement.”
Chait aside: when I was in high school, circa 1965, I spent a lot of time writing a long, ponderous essay on the much maligned (I thought) political philosophy of John C. Calhoun. In retrospect, I might have made better use of my time (girls? learning to play guitar?). But with talk these days of nullification and even secession, I wish I still had that old essay. I’m wondering if folks here have any thoughts on Calhoun or on the constitutionality (never mind the practicality) of nullification and/or secession—those topics have always fascinated me. Maybe they’ve been discussed here already in older posts? For what it’s worth, while I no longer subscribe to Calhoun’s philosophy on those subjects, I still believe that the Civil War was a mistake and that Lincoln should have allowed the Confederate States to go their own way (not that I think war could have been avoided for long in any case). Does that make me a quasi-secessionist or something?