We Must Stop Calling Trump’s Enablers ‘Conservative.’ They are the Radical Right

Historians in the News
tags: Republican Party, conservatism, Heather Cox Richardson, 2020 Election

My high school Latin comes in handy here: “Radical” derives from the concept of pulling something up by the roots, which seems to be exactly what these political and media types seem bent on doing to democratic norms.

The dictionary definition says radical means “advocating extreme measures to retain or restore a political state of affairs.”


Members of the radical right won’t like this, of course. They soak in the word “conservative” like a warm bath. Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan — extreme even among the extremists — leans heavily on the word in his official bio. (“Jordan served as Chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, the largest caucus of conservatives, advancing conservative ideas and solutions on Capitol Hill.”)

To its credit, Jordan’s home-state Cleveland.com avoids the word as it detailed his recent activities in a news story: “A vocal backer of President Donald Trump’s re-election, Jordan also attended rallies in Pennsylvania to claim the election was being ‘stolen’ from Trump, and … signed onto a Supreme Court brief to back a lawsuit that Texas filed to throw out election results from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia.”

The language problem here points to a larger, more troubling issue: The radicalism of the right has been normalized. It’s been going on, and building, for decades. Don’t worry, this mind-set reassures, it’s all fine. There are different ways of looking at the world, liberal and conservative, and they are about equal.

That, of course, is misleading hooey.

Heather Cox Richardson, a history professor at Boston College, used a more precise phrase as she recently assessed what has transpired over many decades to culminate in today’s election denialism: This is “the final, logical step of Movement Conservatism: denying the legitimacy of anyone who does not share their ideology. This is unprecedented.” She called it “a profound attack on our democracy” and predicted that it wouldn’t succeed.

Read entire article at Washington Post

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