As I see it, to date there have been three American republics, each lasting 72 years (give or take a few years). The First Republic of the United States, assembled following the American Revolution, lasted from 1788 to 1860. The Second Republic, assembled following the Civil War and Reconstruction (that is, the Second American Revolution) lasted from 1860 to 1932. And the Third American Republic, assembled during the New Deal and the civil rights eras (the Third American Revolution), lasted from 1932 until 2004.
In Philip Bobbitt’s terminology, the shift from Republic I to Republic II was the shift from state-nation status to nation-state status. The shift from Republic II to Republic III was the shift from the early nation-state to the full flowering of the nation-state. Republic III to Republic IV is the move from the nation-state to the market state.
The first three American republics display a remarkably similar pattern. Their 72-year life span is divided into two 36-year periods (again, give or take a year — this is not astrology). During the first 36-year period of a republic, ambitious nation-builders in the tradition of Alexander Hamilton strengthen the powers of the federal government and promote economic modernization. During the second 36-year phase of a republic, there is a Jeffersonian backlash, in favor of small government, small business and an older way of life. During the backlash era, Jeffersonians manage to modify, but never undo, the structure created by the Hamiltonians in the previous era.
And on Bush a point I’ve made repeatedly, calling Bush the Right’s Carter (or perhaps LBJ, the president who presided over the end of the first half of the 3rd Republic):
The final president of a republic tends to be a failed, despised figure.
Buchanan, Hoover, Bush. Ouch.
Lind also points out that each period is framed by the techno-economic base of the society but the actual contours and ideology of the period can not be determined in advance (in integral terms the LR sets the condition limits for the LL but does not determine its outcome).
So the precise outline of how this is going to go is up in the air, but it seems likely that we are headed for a (in Lind’s terms) Hamiltonian expansion of federal power.
Lind’s thesis (which he doesn’t mention in this article) also talks about the power racial relations during each period with each republic (in his mind) having a deal that sells out blacks. During the first slavery. During the second segregation/Jim Crow South. During the third, multiculturalism with elite black pols mostly in urban areas (so-called “race hustlers” in right-wing terminology) with out-sized power and influence in these communities but basically in a devil’s bargain for the scraps from the white man’s table.
The Fourth Republic hopefully opens up a new potential and the end of the multiculturalist era. You have many races/cultures in the 4th Republic interested in a common goal (a theme of Obama’s campaign).
I should add for those interested in the discussion around what the next conservatism will be, should look to its place in response to the coming growth of centralization and find a new way to operate (Poulos’ evolving critique of unified religio-politico-cultural ideology is central here) within this new environ.
I don’t like the term backlash as it makes conservatism sound only reactive. I think a better way to describe it is as seeking to conserve the gains, conserve and honor the space that is created and comes to be. (In Integral language, translation with progressivism/liberalism always seeking transformation).