Theme: Political Ideas | Content Type: Journal article

US Republicans and the New Fusionism

Edward Ashbee and Alex Waddan


History in HD

| 2 mins read

US Republicanism and conservatism were structured around ‘fusionism’ from the 1950s onwards. Disparate ideas and interests were ‘fused’ in a broad coalitional bloc that was based upon a commitment to free markets, moral or cultural traditionalism and a commitment to US national security, as well as global power projection. There have, however, been significant shifts in recent years as many Republicans have turned against the larger corporations which appear to have little loyalty to the US heartland and are, it is said, guilty of embracing ‘woke’ ideology: that ideology has become the focus of cultural conservatism, with wedge issues such as trans-rights a constant theme. In addition, many Republicans have either embraced or acquiesced in, a conspiracist sub-culture. If foreign policy is considered, national security has been redefined in more restricted and overtly realist terms. Consequently, there has been a repudiation of earlier neoconservative efforts to spread market democracy. All these strands of thought are tied together by an impatience of, or at times disdain for, the checks and balances that define US political processes. Political actors across almost all sections of the right, but most notably candidates for federal office, have had to restructure their platforms and subscribe to these reconfigurations of Republican thinking and the ‘new fusionism’. Although these ideas have a ‘thin’ character, they represent a significant shift away from the thinking of figures such as former House Speaker, Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney and George W. Bush, who defined conservatism and Republicanism just a few years ago. For the most part, their efforts to roll back federal government entitlement programmes such as Medicare, and create a much leaner state, have been abandoned. The article argues that the new fusionism is becoming increasingly embedded and therefore marks a long-run shift in Republican thinking that is likely to endure, regardless of Donald Trump's political fortunes.

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  • bm0263_cbs_portraits-0152.jpg

    Edward Ashbee

    Edward Ashbee is a professor in the Department of International Economics, Government and Business at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.

    Articles by Edward Ashbee
  • Alex-Waddan_avatar.jpeg

    Alex Waddan

    Alex Waddan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Politics at the University of Leicester.

    Articles by Alex Waddan
Volume 94, Issue 4

Latest Journal Issue

Volume 94, Issue 4

Includes a collection on Scottish Politics After Sturgeon, edited by Ben Jackson and Anna Killick. This features articles such as 'Independence is not Going Away: The Importance of Education and Birth Cohorts' by Lindsay Paterson; 'Diary of an SNP First Minister: A Chronopolitics of Proximity and Priorities' by Hannah Graham; and 'Politics, the Constitution and the Independence Movement in Scotland since Devolution' by Malcolm Petrie. There are a wide range of other articles including 'Unlocking the Pensions Debate: The Origins and Future of the ‘Triple Lock’ by Jonathan Portes and 'The Politics of England: National Identities and Political Englishness' by John Denham and Lawrence Mckay. Finally, there is a selection of book reviews such as Branko Milanovic's review of Equality: The History of an Elusive Idea by Darrin M. McMahon, and Alexandre Leskanich's review of Cannibal Capitalism by Nancy Fraser.

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