Heather Cox Richardson, author of To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party and a history professor at Boston College writes at salon.com an article entitled: It is time to get very afraid: Extremists, authoritarians now run the GOP — and no one can stop them.
Richardson opens by saying that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell “are old school politicians who still have faith in the idea of American Democracy.
“Movement Conservatives do not. They want to blow up the government and remake America according to their own ideology.”
She contends that “Movement Conservatives” set out as early as the 50’s, when the New Deal was backed by most Americans who “believed that the government must regulate business and protect labor in order to create a stable, prosperous society” “to destroy this American Consensus.” Here she cites William F. Buckley, Jr. who created a conservative “blueprint” when he wrote God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of Academic Freedom.”
Buckley said, “If voters were presented with facts they would choose government and regulation.” He named two principles that Movement Conservatives must fight for
- Individualism (that is an economy in which individual action is untouched by the state as “sacrosanct”.
- Christianity was given the same untouchable status
Richardson tells us that Buckley claimed that “the secular New Dealers threatened American survival. (Sound familiar?)
The rest of her argument gets a bit harder to swallow but not impossible. Heather Richardson tells us that a book called The True Believer by a man named Eric Hoffer, who reasons that “there could be no leader (like Hitler) without a mass movement”, traces the steps by which Hitler’s authoritarian power was established and suggests that extremists in the Republican Party have been using this “blueprint” for decades. She cites the McCarthy years and traces the steps that were implemented at that time. She describes how the strategies were implemented in the 60’s and she tells us that “Ronald Reagan unhinged the rhetoric of Movement Conservatism even further from reality. He told folksy stories about Welfare Queens who stole tax dollars and hardworking individuals threatened by ‘a little intellectual elite in a far-distant Capitol.”
She continues to unveil the strategies of Movement Conservatives through the Bush administration and on into our current Republican candidates always with the same two goals in mind, protecting Individualism and Christianity. Her article is interesting stuff, and it should be required reading. It’s not a tweet or a text message. You will have to invest a bit of time, but it will be time well spent.
By Nancy Brisson