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Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America – by Nancy MacLean

Discover the shocking truth behind the radical right’s stealth plan for America in Nancy MacLean’s groundbreaking book, “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.” Uncover the secret political establishment that has been working tirelessly to alter the rules of democratic governance, aiming to disempower the majority and preserve the power of the white elite. From James McGill Buchanan, the Nobel Prize-winning political economist who served as the mastermind of this movement, to the billionaire Charles Koch, who created a vast machine to carry out Buchanan’s strategy, this captivating narrative exposes the sinister forces at play in American politics. Brace yourself for an eye-opening journey through decades of manipulation and learn what it means for the future of our democracy.

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Rights Stealth Plan for America - by Nancy MacLean

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Overview of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America

In Nancy MacLean’s book Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, she explores the hidden and long-standing efforts of the radical right to dismantle democratic governance in the United States. MacLean reveals the origins of this movement, the key players involved, and their strategies to disempower the majority. She shines a light on the significant role played by James McGill Buchanan, an influential figure in the radical right movement, and his ideas on government. Moreover, MacLean examines the impact of this stealthy plan on the current political landscape, including the increased control of the Republican Party and the consequences for unions, education, healthcare, and voting rights. Finally, she discusses the research and findings presented in the book, as well as the challenges and criticisms it has faced. MacLean emphasizes the importance of understanding this deep history and its implications for American democracy, and provides action steps for citizens and activists to protect the achievements of twentieth-century self-government.


MacLean’s book delves into the depths of the radical right’s clandestine plan to transform the American political system. The book challenges readers to critically analyze the hidden forces at work behind the scenes and understand the tactics used to undermine democratic values. Democracy in Chains sheds light on a history often overshadowed by contemporary headlines, revealing the long-term efforts to alter the rules of democratic governance in favor of powerful elites. Through meticulous research and compelling storytelling, MacLean exposes the true architects of this radical movement and their influence on the current political landscape.

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Rights Stealth Plan for America - by Nancy MacLean

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Background of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America

The Origins of the Radical Right Movement

MacLean traces the roots of the radical right movement back to its beginnings and highlights the key events and individuals that shaped its ideology. From its origins in the embattled Jim Crow South to its modern-day influence, the movement aims to perpetuate the power of the white elite and protect their interests. Understanding the historical context in which this movement arose is essential to comprehending the motivations and strategies employed by its proponents.

The Role of James McGill Buchanan

At the forefront of the radical right’s stealth plan is James McGill Buchanan, a Nobel Prize-winning political economist. MacLean examines Buchanan’s intellectual contributions and how he became a central figure in the movement. Through Buchanan’s work, the radical right sought to curtail the power of the majority and preserve the privilege of the wealthy elite. Buchanan’s ideas on government formed the foundations of the stealth plan and laid the groundwork for the long-term strategy to dismantle democratic governance.

Buchanan’s Ideas on Government

MacLean delves deeper into Buchanan’s ideas on government, exploring their implications and the ways in which they challenge conventional political thought. From his theories on public choice economics to his emphasis on limiting the role of the state, Buchanan provided a theoretical framework for the radical right’s agenda. By understanding the underpinnings of Buchanan’s ideas, readers can gain insight into the broader goals and motivations of the radical right movement.

Buchanan’s Reaction to Brown v. Board of Education

One pivotal moment in American history that shaped Buchanan’s thinking was the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education. MacLean examines how this ruling, which mandated desegregation in public schools, prompted Buchanan to develop a strategic plan to counteract the expanding reach of democracy. Buchanan’s reaction to this ruling reveals the racial undertones of the radical right movement and its commitment to preserving the power dynamics of the Jim Crow era.

The Strategy to Disempower the Majority

The Plan to Alter Democratic Governance

MacLean uncovers the intricate plan devised by the radical right to alter democratic governance. By targeting key institutions and policies, the movement aimed to reshape the political landscape in favor of the wealthy elite. MacLean provides a comprehensive analysis of the tactics used, from legal maneuverings to educational initiatives, to gradually erode the power of the majority and consolidate power among the privileged few.

Dividing America into ‘Makers’ and ‘Takers’

Central to the radical right’s strategy is the division of America into “makers” and “takers.” MacLean explains how this divisive rhetoric is used to perpetuate inequality and shift blame onto marginalized groups for the economic woes of society. By framing the narrative in this way, the radical right seeks to justify their agenda while further marginalizing those most in need of support.

Corporate Donors and Right-Wing Foundations’ Support

MacLean shines a light on the significant financial backing provided by corporate donors and right-wing foundations to advance the radical right’s agenda. This support ensures the movement’s sustained influence and the continuation of its strategies to dismantle democratic governance. By exposing the extensive network of funding, MacLean reveals the depth of commitment and resources backing the radical right’s plans.

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Rights Stealth Plan for America - by Nancy MacLean

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The Role of Charles Koch

The Discovery of Buchanan’s Ideas by Charles Koch

MacLean explores the pivotal role played by Charles Koch, a multibillionaire and influential figure in the radical right movement. Koch’s discovery of Buchanan’s ideas provided the impetus for the creation of a powerful political machine. By aligning his vast wealth with Buchanan’s strategic vision, Koch became a driving force behind the stealth takeover of the Republican Party.

The Creation of a Powerful Political Machine

MacLean details the establishment of a vast and relentless political machine created by Charles Koch. This machine operates through various arms, utilizing Koch’s significant financial resources to support candidates, fund think tanks, and shape policy. Through this powerful network, the radical right exerts its influence and works tirelessly to implement its agenda.

The Stealth Takeover of the Republican Party

MacLean highlights how the stealth takeover of the Republican Party has been a crucial step in the radical right’s plan for American governance. The infiltration of the party has allowed the movement to advance its agenda from within, gaining control of key government positions and shaping policy to further its goals. Understanding the extent of this takeover is integral to comprehending the current political landscape.

Current Political Landscape

Mike Pence as Vice President

MacLean examines the role of Mike Pence as Vice President and his longstanding loyalty to the radical right movement. Pence’s ascent to one of the highest positions in American government signifies the alignment of the current administration with the radical right’s agenda. By analyzing Pence’s beliefs and policy positions, MacLean sheds light on the influence of the movement within the highest levels of power.

Republican Control in the House, Senate, and State Governments

MacLean explores the broader consequences of the radical right’s stealth plan, including its impact on the composition of government bodies. With Republicans holding significant control in the House, Senate, and state governments, the movement has been able to enact its agenda more effectively. MacLean analyzes the policy changes and legislation resulting from this Republican stronghold to assess their implications for American democracy.

The Impact on Unions, Education, Healthcare, and Voting Rights

MacLean investigates the specific impact of the radical right’s agenda on various facets of American society. From the erosion of labor unions to the privatization of public education and healthcare, the movement’s policies have far-reaching consequences. Furthermore, MacLean discusses the suppression of voting rights and the efforts to limit access to the democratic process. By highlighting these issues, she underscores the significance of the radical right’s agenda beyond the realm of politics.

Research and Findings

The Source of Information and Data

MacLean emphasizes the extensive research conducted over ten years as the foundation for her book. She delves into various sources of information and data to uncover the hidden history of the radical right’s stealth plan. MacLean’s research draws from primary sources, including documents and correspondence, as well as interviews and scholarly works, to provide a comprehensive and well-supported analysis.

Unique Research Methods

MacLean explains the unique research methods employed in uncovering the deep history of the radical right. She discusses the challenges faced in piecing together a hidden narrative and the strategies used to overcome these obstacles. By offering insights into her research process, MacLean invites readers to engage with her findings and evaluate the credibility of her work.

Key Findings from the Study

MacLean summarizes the key findings resulting from her extensive research. From the identification of key players to the uncovering of specific strategies employed by the radical right, these findings shed light on a history that has largely remained hidden from public view. MacLean’s aim is to present a comprehensive and detailed account that deepens our understanding of the radical right’s influence on American democracy.

Challenges and Criticisms

Controversy Surrounding the Book

MacLean acknowledges the controversy surrounding her book and the challenges it has faced since its publication. As a work that challenges powerful interest groups and shines a light on hidden agendas, Democracy in Chains has faced pushback from those whom it exposes. MacLean addresses the controversies surrounding the book, providing insight into the nature of these criticisms.

Critiques of the Author’s Approach and Bias

Critics of Democracy in Chains have raised concerns about the author’s approach and potential bias. MacLean addresses these critiques directly, discussing her commitment to rigorous research and the importance of presenting a balanced and evidence-based analysis. She encourages readers to engage with the book critically while also recognizing the necessity of challenging dominant narratives.

Responses from the Radical Right

MacLean explores the responses from the radical right to her book and the exposure of their long-standing plan. She discusses the efforts made by these groups to discredit her work and dismiss the revelations uncovered. By analyzing the responses, MacLean allows readers to gain insight into the significant impact of her research and the resistance encountered by those challenging the status quo.

Importance and Implications

The Threat to American Democracy

MacLean emphasizes the importance of understanding the radical right’s stealth plan and its implications for American democracy. By shining a light on this hidden history, she underscores the urgent need to protect democratic institutions, processes, and values from the encroachment of powerful interest groups. MacLean argues that awareness is the first step in countering the threat posed by the radical right.

Protecting the Achievements of Twentieth-Century American Self-Government

MacLean urges readers to recognize and protect the achievements of twentieth-century American self-government. She highlights the progress made in expanding democratic rights and ensuring equal representation, which now faces the risk of erosion. By advocating for the preservation of these achievements, MacLean encourages readers to take an active role in safeguarding democratic values.

Action Steps for Citizens and Activists

In conclusion, MacLean offers practical action steps for citizens and activists who wish to engage with the issues raised in her book. Recognizing the importance of collective efforts, she suggests avenues through which individuals can voice their concerns, hold their elected officials accountable, and advocate for policies that promote equality, transparency, and democratic principles. MacLean empowers readers to be agents of change and to actively participate in the democratic process.


Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America provides a thorough examination of the radical right movement’s secretive and long-standing plan to dismantle democratic governance. From its origins to its impact on the current political landscape, MacLean uncovers the hidden history and exposes the strategies employed by powerful interest groups. By understanding this deep history, readers can better comprehend the threats facing American democracy and take meaningful action to protect and preserve democratic values for future generations.