Democracy Under Assault
Theopolitics, Incivility and Violence on the Right

Michele Swenson

Howard Phillips’ ‘Economic Chaos Theory’
Economic Distress to Usher in Theocracy

Foolhardy mismanagement of the U.S. economy may be explained in part by parallels to Hitler’s Germany drawn by fundamentalist ideologue, Howard Phillips.

Howard Phillips’ appointment as director of the Office of Economic Opportunity was described as Richard Nixon’s payoff to the New Right after his 1968 election. Toward his mission of "Defunding the Left," Phillips’ sought to gut social-welfare programs advanced by "liberal radicals." He temporarily shut down OEO, labeling it a "gigantic welfare agency," and ultimately resigned after accusing Nixon of reneging on his promise to veto further funding of Great Society programs (named by Phillips the "source of all government over-spending since 1961"). Phillips subsequently became a founding member with Paul Weyrich and Jerry Falwell of the "Moral Majority."

Phillips’ United States Taxpayers Party (renamed American Constitution Party) has been praised by ideologues as "a biblical constitutional alternative" to the "liberal" Republican Party. Phillips launched USTP as a political vehicle for third-party presidential runs in 1992 and 1996 (for himself or for someone like Patrick Buchanan), and as a platform for Chrisitan Reconstructionist beliefs advocating rewrite of civil law based on the Old Testament. Christian Reconstructionists’ founding father Rousas Rushdoony rejected democracy as "heresty," advocating theocratic rule by select white Christian males. Phillips has vowed to uphold "the constitutional right of the fetus" to life, liberty and property, even as he seeks to revoke the right of women to vote, expressed by him euphemistically as return to "one-family one-vote"— a "traditional family value."

Just as Grover Norquist, architect of Bush administration annual tax cuts for the rich and efforts to "defund the left," eagerly anticipates economic chaos, Phillips heralds U.S. economic distress that will eventually trigger a religious right revolution and government takeover. Drawing parallels to Hitler’s rise to power, precipitated by economic hard times, he observed, "The death of the Weimar Republic, the opportunity for the National Socialists to come up in the ’20s, was the result of the fact that the people were hurt economically."