This is the second in a series examining the facts and misconceptions of the extreme elements of both parties.
The Republican Party was once the party of Abraham Lincoln. It stood for a unified country where all people were free. It was the party that demanded less government intervention and supported states’ rights over federal authority. It was fiscally conservative, wanting lower taxes and, of course, lower services for things like healthcare and education.
While a shadow of this party still exists, it has largely been replaced by the darkest elements of our society. It is a party dominated by conspiracy theories and personal attacks, where the duties of upholding the Constitution have gone by the wayside. It is the party of Donald Trump.
American journalist and satirist H. L. Mencken once observed, “On one great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by an outright moron.”
This quote seems oddly prophetic when it comes to Donald Trump. This self-described “stable genius” has become the darling of the far right who embrace his rambling rants and follow his Twitter feed as if it was scripture. Some have even gone as far as to suggest that a Book of Trump be added to the Bible.
So, who are the radical right?
Like the radical left, which is a combination of the loosely associated Antifa movement, along with the more prominent Progressives, the radical right is comprised of many different groups, some who have beliefs that are diametrically opposed to other groups who share the same goal, or to put it in other words, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. So, despite their differences, the divergent elements of the radical right have banded together to oppose any chance of a Democratic victory.
What began as the Tea Party Movement, which had the aim of returning the Republican Party to the values of fiscal responsibility, less government intervention and free markets, along with a sense of Judeo-Christian values, the resulting Tea Party sought to push Republicans further to the right.
As the movement fizzled, certain groups sought to continue to embrace these values. When Barack Obama was elected, and environmental protections were instituted, Republicans revolted, resulting in years of Congressional inaction.
The advent of the internet and the rise of social media gave rise to numerous conspiracy-oriented groups that relied on innuendo false statements to smear anyone who opposed them. Right wing media also jumped on the bandwagon, serving as another agent of chaos.
The rise of hate groups such as Q Anon and 4 chan further spread baseless conspiracy theories, usually created out of whole cloth, and often the product of misinformation spread by foreign agents. These groups formed the basis for the radical right. They justified their actions by reasoning those on the left MUST be doing equally horrible things. And if they couldn’t find anything, they simply put something out to their followers, who spread rumor as fact.
White supremacists comprised another far right hate group. They considered the Trump slogan Make America Great as a sign of returning to times when they saw things as simpler. They hearkened back to a time where the races were separated and White made right. The Muslim travel ban, demand to build a border wall and disparaging of immigrants solidified their support. When Trump expressed sympathy for those who marched in Charlottesville, they knew they had who they wanted in charge.
Evangelicals are another segment of the radical right. They saw a “savior” in Donald Trump. They interpreted his Muslim ban as confirmation that Trump wished to confirm the Judeo-Christian values they believed the Founding Fathers intended. As such, they ignored his multiple transgressions and believed his lies. Their twisting of the values they once held dear reflected a latent racism that they saw Trump espousing.
The radical right is indeed a dangerous movement. Spurred on by hatred of those who are not like them and willing to accept anything their “news” sources feed them, they are also a threat to Democracy. With the outcome of the next election looking more and more like a defeat, you can be certain they will not quietly fade into the shadows.
That is why it is so important to exercise our right to vote, by any means necessary.