David Horowitz was the poster child of the radical left in the 1960s. His parents were card-carrying members of the Communist Party USA for many years, and he was both a footsoldier and propagandist of the hard left's socialist agenda in this country and was considered one of the founders of the New Left movement. According to his autobiography, Radical Son, Horowitz departed from the radical-left movement after he came to believe a friend of his had been killed by the Black Panther Party after he'd gotten her a job with them. This remains a case of his word against theirs.
After making the transition from radical Marxist to vehement anti-communist, he became a conservative darling and a New York Times bestselling author (and co-author) of several books, including three dynastic biographies: The Rockefellers: An American Dynasty (1976), The Kennedys: An American Dream (1984), and The Fords: An American Epic (1987).
Recently Horowitz was on my program, The Price of Business, to discuss the horrible situation the country is in. Instead of being elated over the recent elections, Horowitz conveyed to my audience his belief that the GOP is going to continue to prove their inability and unwillingness to lead. Most importantly, he argued, they don't understand how great a threat "communists" and "racists" -- like Barack Obama, in his opinion -- are to the American people. He said that that issue is his current focus and is also the theme of the latest work in his series on the American left, entitled The Great Betrayal. (The series is called The Black Book of the American Left.)
Horowitz stated that he wrote his book to the "polite conservatives" who don't understand the threat this nation faces. He said we must call leading Democrats -- including Barack Obama -- communists. Furthermore, he went on to say that there are "four communists" sitting on the Supreme Court. He believes Obama has "destroyed the Democrats' majority" and will "hopefully" destroy the party's chances to elect a president in 2016. He went on to call Obama and other leading Democrats "racists."
He argued that the Democrats win because of the "moral terms" they use against the GOP, freeling calling Republicans "racists," "sexists," and exploitative of the poor. What moral terms do the GOP use against Democrats? He argued that "there are none," which is why the GOP is struggling today. He went on the say, "I guarantee you that the first Republican who calls Obama a racist will be on the covers of newspapers everywhere." I asked him if that is a good thing, and he said, emphatically, "Yes," adding that this will begin to expose the fact that we have an emperor with "no clothes." Horowitz is certainly passionate about what he advocates.
Interviewing Horowitz was never easy. In fact, it was one of my most challenging interviews. Although I know communism certainly still exists, his use of the term seemed to ring more true during the height of the Cold War. He repeated that term and "racists" often as he ranted. Furthermore, I could not see how resorting to the methodologies of the left would work for conservatives. But as one listens to the interview, one can see that he certainly couldn't have cared less about my concerns.
If conservative victory requires broad-based appeal, I'm not sure Horowitz's message resonates. He believes Rome is in fact burning, but that he is one of very few who have any clue of our predicament. That type of messaging is passionate, but its chances of success are doubtful.
Than again, taking "radical" approaches is natural for Horowitz, be they on the right or on the left. He came from a family of Marxist sympathizers who were members of the American Communist Party. In addition, they were particularly fond of the reign of Joseph Stalin. The Horowitz family, including his parents, who were schoolteachers in the U.S., were devastated by an address delivered by Nikita Khrushchev, now known as the "secret speech." In that address, Khrushchev condemned Stalin for creating a cult of personality that abused the Soviet Union's citizenry. The Horowitz family was devastated by this speech. Horowitz wrote in Radical Son:
The publication of the Khrushchev Report was probably the greatest blow struck against the Soviet Empire during the Cold War. When my parents and their friends opened the morning Times and read its text, their world collapsed -- and along with it their will to struggle. If the document was true, almost everything they had said and believed was false. Their secret mission had led them into waters so deep that its tide had overwhelmed them, taking with it the very meaning of their lives.
Horowitz's life has been an interesting journey, and I get the impression that it may be one he will continue to take largely on his own. It's not that I don't agree with many of his concerns -- I do -- but his style seems more designed to alienate than to attract, and there are plenty on both the left and the right doing that with little success.