The House members, by the mainstream media and by Wikipedia. The caucus, which draws together 45 members of the House of Representatives, is the furthest to of any major political formation in the . The most extreme and flamboyant politicians in America, like scandal-plagued Matt Gaetz of Florida and gun-toting Lauren Boebert of Colorado, are proud to call the caucus their political home. Even Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, after threatening to form an explicitly racist “America First” caucus, chose ultimately to continue promoting her nativist, QAnon-inspired beliefs from within the .is routinely described as conservative, by its
By any reasonable measure, the description of the caucus when he said in 2017, “They’re anarchists. They want total chaos. Tear it all down and start over. That’s where their mindset is.”and its members are not conservative. Because of their disruptive tactics and rhetoric, their contempt for bedrock conservative values like the rule of law and their embrace of the most radical populist in modern history, they are more akin to European far- politicians like those in the Alternative for Germany and Fidesz. Traditional recognize that the caucus and its members have nothing to do with the party they joined many years ago. Former House Speaker John Boehner, a more traditional , gave an apt
Can the US Really Rally Other Nations?
The misidentification of the called a “conservative” president. Certain policies, like the dismantling of environmental regulations or the promotion of laissez-faire economics, have also been erroneously called “conservative.” Various media outlets and personalities, from One America News to Glenn Beck, have likewise been mislabeled “conservative.” When The Washington Post tries to rectify the problem by labeling far- activist Ali Alexander an “ ,” it only makes matters worse. An should be even more determined to uphold the status quo rather than, like Alexander, trying to undermine it.as “conservative” is not the only example of the misuse of this term. At various points over the last four years, Donald Trump was
The recent ouster of Liz Cheney from her position as the third highest-ranking over 92% of the time on such issues as gutting the environment.in the House has only further muddied the waters of this definitional quagmire. True, Cheney has upheld law and order in defending the integrity of the 2020 election against the revolutionary fervor of the “Trump Firsters” in her party. Prior to her recent stand, however, Cheney herself flouted many of the principles of by embracing the more radical policies of the Trump-inflected , voting with the former president
The misuse of the term “conservative” is the result not only of a structural quirk of American politics, but also the evolution of political ideology in the.
In Europe, multi-party systems allow for greater nuance in political labeling. Thus,in the various Christian Democratic parties compete for votes against far- populist parties that embrace anti-democratic, racist and even fascist positions. America’s two-party system, on the other hand, collapses such distinctions into a binary opposition between a single “liberal” and a single “conservative” party. If a faction emerges within the , therefore, it is by definition “conservative” even if it so obviously isn’t. It’s as if politics in America is digital — either one or zero — while European politics reflect all the messy gradations of the analog realm.
At the same time, ideologies have evolved considerably in theover the last half-century. “Conservative” once stood for preserving traditional arrangements in society such as family, faith, community and small business against the modernizing forces of the market. have also adopted the British philosopher Edmund Burke’s distaste for the Enlightenment project of human rights and egalitarianism. were also once conservationists (remember: it was Richard Nixon who, in 1970, created the Environmental Protection Agency and signed the Clean Air Act Extension).
The Reagan/Thatcher revolution changed all that.suddenly became ultra-liberal in the economic sense. They wholeheartedly embraced the free market in their eagerness to deploy any powerful force against what they considered to be the primary evil in the world: big government. They supported laissez-faire economics — essentially, no government controls on the economy — even though unrestrained market forces tear apart communities, break apart families, undermine faith, destroy family farms and sweep away small businesses. But since such a market served as a counterforce to government authority, the neo-liberal prepared to throw out whatever babies were necessary in order to get rid of the bathwater.
A further revolution in conservative thought came with the neoconservatives. These foreign policy hawks discovered a fondness for human rights and a taste for revolutionary change, as long as it was in countries theopposed. Overthrowing the Taliban, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi, which required a revolutionary destruction of the status quo, became a new addition to the conservative agenda.
In some respects, Trump attempted to purge the conservative movement of these two newer tendencies through his rejection of both the cherished free trade of the neoliberals and the “forever wars” of the neoconservatives. In their place, the new president reverted to the olderideology of nationalism, and racism of the Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s and the America First movement of the 1940s. At the same time, however, Trump retained the allegiance of these newfangled by slashing government involvement in the economy and championing higher Pentagon spending.
As a result, the currentfeatures a dog’s breakfast of ideologies. You can still find ardent neoliberals like Senator Rob Portman of Ohio who espouse free-trade economics and a few neocons like Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas who rail against neo-isolationism. A solid majority of the party, Cheney notwithstanding, backs Trump no matter how much he deviates from conservative values.
Given the inability ofto define themselves with any degree of precision and their preference for hiding behind labels like “conservative,” it’s no wonder that the media has difficulty parsing terminology. If the calls itself “conservative,” and the American Conservative Union agrees, should it really be the job of The New York Times to correct the record?
And yet, that’s precisely what the mainstream media does for other ludicrously inapt designations. No major newspaper believes that North Korea is democratic simply because its official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. No mainstream journalists would mistake the far-Sweden Democrats for the political party of the same name. As for Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party, it is nothing of the sort, since it’s only the personal political vehicle of the raving extremist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and pity the poor reporter who takes the party at face value.
It’s long past time for the mainstream media to apply these common-sense rules of nomenclature to American politics.
There are several efforts ongoing to wean theof its addiction to Donald Trump. Perhaps a more important first step would be to reclaim the term “conservative” so that it applies in the to the same system of values that inspires conservative parties in Europe. Only then will the have a chance of becoming once again a defender of the status quo rather than its chief wrecking ball.
*[This article was originally published by FPIF.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
Support Fair Observer
We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.
For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.
In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.
We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs
on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This
doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost
Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.
Will you support FO’s journalism?
We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.