Arnold Kling  

Roosevelt and the Puritans

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Razib Khan writes,


Walter Russell Mead has a fascinating blog post up, The Birth of the Blues. In it, he traces the roots of modern American "Blue-state" liberalism back to the Puritans, the Yankees of New England. This is a plausible argument... But New England statism has its limits; the map above shows that it is in Greater New England that resistence to FDR seems to have been deepest. I don't necessarily chalk this up to "flinty Yankee" anti-government sentiment. Rather, I think we need to consider that the ideological content of social-political coalitions and configurations sometimes matter less than long persistent affinities across cultural networks and domains.

One could argue that the ideological core of the Roosevelt Administration was the descendants of the Puritans (along with upper-midwest immigrants from Northern Europe). However, his electoral coalition was disconnected from this ideological core. Roosevelt stitched together urban Catholics (and did relatively poorly in Protestant New England), the farm belt, the racist south (still solidly Democratic at that time), and blacks in the north (where they could vote).

The historical narrative, of course, is that the 1936 election was a victory for Roosevelt's ideology. But guess who wrote that narrative?


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razib writes:

i didn't elaborate on this, but i could also have noted that it is interesting that despite being a "WASP blue blood" (and from a republican family, though is father was a dem.), roosevelt was from the old new york elite (delano = huguenot) , which often was at odds with the yankees who flooded into eastern long island and basically overran upstate new york outside of the hudson valley. these "old new yorkers" were often democrats of yore, who opposed new england cultural imperialism which rode in on the backs of their demographic expansion. martin van buren was a dutch new yorker democrat, who opposed the new england derived reformists who were the core of the anti-masonic faction in state politics. and yet he was ideologically flexible enough to be a
"free soiler" during part of his political career.

p.s. from what i have read b. h. obama is yankee stock on his mother's side. and hawaii was heavily influenced by yankee missionaries.

Steve Sailer writes:

Most of the Progressives v. Big Business battles of a century ago were fought out among Northern WASPs. For example, the Eliots were in business until the 1820s when, having made their pile, they shifted to being progressive preachers, professors, and poets (although T.S. was a rare conservative Eliot).

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