In a recent article, I stated that the U.S. lacks an influential right-wing party, and our two major parties — Democrats and Republicans — are left and center-left, respectively. That is, the perceived rightness of the GOP makes sense only relative to the Democratic party. It is refuted if one considers the actual policy carried out by Republicans for the last one hundred years.
First of all, it is necessary to clarify what we understand by the left-right political spectrum. A political spectrum is a system of qualitative comparisons of different political philosophies. There are plenty of approaches in compiling the political spectrum based on various factors, dimensions, axes, and cardinal points. Most often, political spectrograms differ significantly from each other, and it seems that each of them describes an entirely different reality.
Recent developments in the analysis of political philosophies, based on a multi-disciplinary approach utilizing set theory and mathematical logic in a framework of qualitative comparative analysis (QCA), started to remove the ambiguity in understanding a political spectrum. The study identifies three main factors that influence the political spectrum polarization: attitude to private property, degree of individual freedom, and the scale of wealth redistribution.
The political doctrine is left-wing if it assaults private property rights OR subjugates the individual to the collective OR imposes compulsory and scaled-wealth redistribution. The "OR" operand means that these factors can be employed individually or in concert and can be considered unique paths to socialism. Thus, Bolsheviks utilized all three ways to build communism, and Italian Fascists and German Nazis used coercive collectivization of consciousness and generous wealth redistribution as the main paths to socialism. In contrast, evolutionary socialists funnel the effort to implement a massive wealth redistribution along with the gradual indoctrination of the population.
Evolutionary socialism is the type of socialist movement that has become most prevalent in the United States. This means that its signs must be sought in policies regarding compulsory wealth redistribution. As a proxy for wealth redistribution, we can consider the indicator of welfare spending. What is the position of the GOP on the issue of wealth redistribution? The GOP platform does not explicitly address it. Instead, there are vague statements about simplifying the tax code and boosting economic growth, along with promises not to divide the American people into winners and losers. This silence is alarming because the Republicans either don't understand the implications of compulsory wealth redistribution or tacitly agree with the Democrats' agenda.
Figure 1 shows that spending on welfare has gradually increased since 1900 and now continues to rise regardless of which party is in power. This graph represents the trajectory of the advance of socialist traits in American society. The most surprising thing is to see a sharp decline in welfare spending during Obama's second term after a sharp rise during the recession.
Fig. 1. Total welfare spending. Data were taken from usgovermentspending.com.
From year to year, the country became more affluent, so it would be correct to look at the change in welfare spending as a percentage of the GDP. The graph in Figure 2 shows that despite the fluctuations, the general trend is still increasing. But the fluctuations are also interesting in themselves. It is theoretically assumed that a right-wing president would prevent the growth of wealth redistribution, but practice shows that this is far from the case.
The largest spikes in welfare spending occurred during Republican presidencies: Hoover (1929–1933), Nixon (1969–1974), Ford (1974–1977), Bush Sr. (1989–1993), and Bush Jr. (2001–2009). Under Reagan and Trump, spending declined. Among the Democrats, Roosevelt (1933–1945), Truman (1945–1953), and Kennedy (1961–1963) were the champions of welfare spending. During Clinton's term, welfare spending continually decreased. It is impossible not to consider in whose hands the Senate and Congress were, and other historical and economic circumstances, but nevertheless, all Republicans, except for Reagan and Trump, not only did not put a halt to welfare spending, but increased it significantly.
Fig. 2. Welfare Spending through Presidency. Data were taken from usgovermentspending.com.
Suppose Republicans agree with Democrats on wealth redistribution in principle, thinking it is the right thing to do out of compassion and high moral principles, which has nothing to do with socialism. In that case, they cannot be more wrong. Compulsory wealth redistribution is a gradual and latent assault on private property rights. It is contrasted with the outright expropriation of private property as Marx prescribed, but it nevertheless would achieve almost the same result in the long run. It is a mechanism that punishes success, chooses winners and losers, and creates conditions for chronic abuse of people's generosity. Wealth redistribution diminishes self-responsibility and self-reliance and keeps the underclass hooked up permanently to the state redistribution machine. It creates a false sense of economic equality between people and, on the contrary, creates a more stratified society comprising elites who possess the power to distribute wealth and recipients they control. Such a structure resembles a socialist society and is a cell of socialism in the U.S. As for the collectivization of consciousness, the right has outright lost the battle for the minds of youths since the American educational system, popular culture, social networks, and mass media have been under the rule of the left for decades already.
In recent years, many issues that have nothing to do with socialism or capitalism have been discussed by Democrats and Republicans. These issues include the rights of gays and transgender people, women's rights, abortion, racism, nationalism, and whatever else but not the trajectory of society's development. As if on purpose, these peripheral matters were chosen for discussion in order to disguise the principal consensus between the two parties on the country's development and show their presumed difference. On the issue of public health care, which is directly related to the socialist transformation of society, the Republicans lost, and when they had the opportunity to correct the situation, they failed miserably to do so.
Based on the above, we can conclude that despite the right-wing slogans, the Republican Party, in fact, is not an effective defender of capitalism. It allowed both a latent attack on private property and the collectivization of consciousness. That is why the GOP is not a genuine right-wing but, at most, a center-left party. Therefore, the slogan about the non-admission of socialism in the U.S. has long been late. There are plenty of socialist traits in our society that Republicans failed to recognize. We can't expect the party that allowed the socialist transformation of society to protect it from socialism. The Democrats are the engine of socialist changes, and the Republican elites are enablers.
The Trump administration comes closest to the right-wing ideal (but is still too far), at least in terms of tax cuts and simplifying some business regulations. Trump is not afraid to identify Democrats as socialists, tearing off the mask of humanists and moral authorities and exposing who they indeed are. He stopped short of doing so with the GOP elites, but they pre-emptively struck. The united privileged class of Democratic-Republicans has come to the defense of their status in the society, holding elections worthy of the Third World.
Therefore, I must conclude that the path to socialism will continue until people organize under the banner of a real right-wing party and begin to fight for economic and personal freedom. There is a public demand for such a party, which will undoubtedly be realized soon, as the Tea Party was once organized. This will inevitably happen because socialism is an evolutionary dead end. History shows that countries that experimented with collectivization hit the wall and returned to the trajectory of society's natural evolution. It's just a shame that, having defeated world communism led by the Soviets, we overlooked evolutionary socialism at home and helped to revive yet another communist giant: China.