The Revolt of the Conservatives

A picture of a double medal of honor recipient...

A picture of a double medal of honor recipient . (Note that the light blue ribbons (at the top of his ribbon rack) appear almost white in this overexposed photo.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Revolt of the Conservatives, A History of the American Liberty League, 1934-1940 by George Wolfskill. Before the invention of Astroturf, there was an earlier version of the TEA Party with a similar cast of characters, goals and methods and financed by the du Pont family, the Koch brothers of their day. The following is a quotation from the book. The reference to Butler is to Smedley Butler who was the League’s choice to replace FDR in a military coup. In his day, FDR was hated by conservatives as much as President Obama is today.

“Following the November elections and the temporary embarrassment of the Butler episode, the American Liberty League launched the most intense and concentrated campaign to propagate conservative political and economic thought that the United States had ever witnessed. To a philosophy that was at once a combination of Social Darwinism, laissez-faire economics, Old Testament apocalypse, and Constitution and ancestor worship, the Liberty Leaguers now often added a savage hatred of the man who had come to symbolize their torment and frustration.”

The election referred to is November, 1934, and the ancestor worship is of the Founding Fathers. All this sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I recommend this book highly. It is available now at for $11.13 used plus shipping.

President Smedley Butler

A picture of a double medal of honor recipient...

A picture of a double medal of honor recipient . (Note that the light blue ribbons (at the top of his ribbon rack) appear almost white in this overexposed photo.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Smedley Butler, who lived from 1881 to 1940, was a Marine Major General who was slated by the American Liberty League to become President in a coup d’état against FDR in 1933. The coup would have been America’s first, but it never took place because General Butler refused to participate. The American Liberty League was an early version of the TEA Party organized by the moguls of Wall Street as a faux populist movement and spouted much the same nonsense as the TEA Party does now. A portion of Barack Obama’s hesitancy to act more forcefully during the Great Recession was a fear of provoking another plot by the 1% to sponsor a coup. Nothing came of the American Liberty League plot except a few Congressional hearings. The League existed for 6 years from 1934 to 1940.


Smedley Butler

Image via Wikipedia

Pakistan is a democracy with a difference. Not only does their national government alternate between civilian and military control, their political parties are lead by family dynasties. Here in the US, all our governments have been civilian, so far, and our political dynasties are not yet as firmly entrenched as they are in Pakistan. India also was ruled by a dynasty, the Nehru dynasty, until recently. The US almost suffered a coup by the military in 1934-5, but General Smedley Butler, chosen by Wall Street to replace FDR, would not participate.

We have a two party system here in the US with two family dynasties maneuvering to exert and maintain control. There is the Bush-Republican Party and the Kennedy-Democratic Party, each led by a patriarch or sometimes a matriarch like Indira Gandhi or Benazir Bhutto. Interesting enough, both matriarchs were assassinated. Before his death, the patriarch of the Kennedy family, Ted Kennedy, handed off leadership temporarily to Barack Obama.

Dynasties are the inevitable result of great concentrations of wealth. According to former Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis, you can have democracy or you can have great concentrations of wealth, but not both at the same time. That is the reason the Bush-Republican Party wants to eliminate the estate (death) tax, to maintain the dynasty’s grip on our politics.

It is not too late to stop our drift toward rule by dynasties, rather than true democracy. However, we are close to rule by dynasties and getting closer day by day. The Citizens United decision by the US Supreme Court is quickly bringing that day closer. To stop that drift, we must unite to oppose dynastic rule by the wealthiest among us and their supporters, the one percent who place their interests ahead of the national interest.