Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch spoke in front of the Republican Party of Wisconsin convention just a few months prior to the general election, giving a speech focused on uniting the party factions to defeat the Democrats. I don’t particularly dislike Kleefisch, or at least not more than most politicians, but she has to notice an inescapable truth: the Tea Party, social conservatives, alt-right, and neoconservatives aren’t just factions in the Republican Party, they are the Republican party, and don’t let any so-called moderate Republican tell you differently. The reality is that reasonable, competent Republicans such as John Kasich, Jon Huntsman, and Condoleezza Rice have been virtually silenced by the rest of the party. This isn’t to say other parties don’t have radical factions, but those parties never had a white supremacist likw Richard Spencer coin an entire faction that was centered around a sitting president.
I do once again ask that we focus solely on the GOP. The party has gone down a road to lunacy incomparable to any other current political party, as the far left comprising of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cornel West, Kyle Kulinski and few others is microscopic in comparison to the four heads of the Republican ideological trash mutant that I hope to discuss.
Featured politicians: Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Mike Pence
The religious right became a featured element of the GOP in the 1990s and 2000s pushing to oppose gay rights, fight abortion, and be far stricter on crime. This essentially meant increasing mandatory minimum sentences, passing three-strikes laws, and cracking down on weed in inner cities that don’t vote Republican. It ultimately became a place for religious nutjobs to compare homosexuality to bestiality, reject proven scientific facts regarding climate change, and then play the victim card and act as if Christians are being persecuted by the left. Interestingly enough, they often preach the same beliefs as the very “radical Islamic” countries they often criticize or push for military action against.
While they claim to be concerned about the Bill of Rights and Constitution, they have no problem ignoring the First Amendment that supports a separation of church and state, as many of them have supported radical ideas including Mike Huckabee’s idea to fire non-Christians working in government. Much like the radical Islamic countries they rally against, they fight against gay rights, dislike atheists and a secular government, support rampant militarism, oppose birth control, are against contraception, oppose women in the military, and so on. Thus, they have single handedly created a group of radical Christian fundamentalists that makes non-Christians view all Christians like myself insane for these draconian views and denial of facts, including denying climate change on the grounds that God would never allow the environment to become less than perfect. Needless to say, this movement went off the deep end the moment it started.
Featured politicians: Dick Cheney, Lindsay Graham, John McCain, Marco Rubio, Bill Kristol, John Bolton, Tom Cotton
This group of warmongers saw its glory days in the Bush era when we went into Iraq. Neoconservatives pride themselves on the fundamental idea that if the US isn’t at war, the world is getting less safe. Just to name a few radical ideas, Senator Rubio (R-FL) proposed increasing defense spending by $1 trillion, who defended it by saying “we cannot even have an economy if we’re not safe.” I’ll be sure to regret not voting for Rubio the second a handful of Middle Eastern armed ragtag cave dwellers manage to topple a nation with a military larger than the next dozen or so countries combined, but until then, we should consider this notion almost as ludicrous as the next one. John Bolton has urged military action on Iran on several occasions, while Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) suggested such an attack would only take days. It’s almost hard not to listen to neoconservatives after their phenomenal track record with the Iraq War, where they offered the same advice of a quick invasion that surely wouldn’t cost trillions of dollars, cost thousands of lives, and destabilize the region.
Not only has the majority of the information provided by these war hawks been fabricated or incorrect, they still ignore the facts and defend these interventions to this day. Their suggestions on spending not only completely disregard budgetary restrictions, they also ignore the fact that military spending mostly just benefits defense contractors and few others. The Commission on Wartime Contracting actually found that in the first 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan, between $31 and $60 billion dollars were spent on waste, fraud, and abuse. This also goes without mentioning that the many occasions of our government funding the very terrorist organizations that neoconservatives swear to destroy such as the case when the US sent arms to the Free Syrian Army that have ties to Al-Nusra and ISIS and helped the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Interestingly enough, two of the men responsible for the billions of dollars in covert military aid are neoconservative Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC). This same group that is responsible for every foreign policy blunder since Carter was president does everything in its power to protect the sacred military-industrial complex — ignoring or fighting people that expose waste and abuse like Snowden and Manning, ensuring complete government surveillance, and keeping oil companies, terrorist organizations and defense contractors superfluously wealthy and pushing for policies that will maximize both tax dollars spent and American lives lost. Why serve American citizens when serving Dick Cheney’s former company, Halliburton, is far more profitable? God bless America.
Featured politicians: Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Glenn Beck
Beginning as a movement against excessive spending, high taxes, and fiscal irresponsibility, the Tea Party began as a principled, sane movement. Unfortunately, I was forced to use the past tense when describing one of the largest political factions as being principled and sane, since people like Sarah Palin arrived to ensure it wouldn’t last. Thus, it quickly spiraled into a far-right movement that combined some of the worst aspects of the social conservatives and neoconservatives but in slightly more tolerable doses. It creates this culture of obstructing the political process at every turn by pulling off stunts like not even giving Garland a vote or hearing under Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), undermining the President with a letter to Iran, and so on.
There doesn’t seem to be a real legislative objective or even an aspiration in mind other than making life miserable for Democrats. The GOP managed to secure the House, Senate and White House in 2016, and yet, they still blame Democrats and have no major legislative accomplishments to show for and likely still will not. Rather than promoting free trade, fighting corporate welfare, reining in entitlements, repealing Obamacare, and balancing a budget, they’ve essentially kept the status quo in Washington. Besides voting for Trump’s cabinet picks, their political achievements have been sparse to none, much like the eight years of Obama. Thus, it remains a massive political force with a crazy ideology but no legislative agenda to match. (At least, not one that went beyond making the Oval Office miserable for Obama.)
We’ll see where the Tea Party heads off to in the coming years, but thus far, it has maintained the religious fanaticism of the social conservatives, the war hawkishness of the neocons, and has also kept a sense of corporatism in their economic beliefs. However, it isn’t at all unreasonable to believe that the Tea Party will remain a purely reactionary faction.
Featured politicians: Donald Trump, Richard Spencer, Steve Bannon, David Duke, Ann Coulter
The alt-right spawned a new era of white nationalism, race baiting, and immigrant hating in America, even for Republican standards. The leader that coined the phrase, Richard Spencer, has had an innumerable amount of controversial quotes including calling Martin Luther King Jr. a degenerate, attacking Islam, refusing to condemn Hitler and the KKK, and so on. The movement has cut out many traditionally conservative stances such as supporting free trade, supporting religious institutions, and so on, while having mixed it with more moderate positions on gay rights and foreign policy, even going as far as some supporting universal healthcare. However, the one issue they really pride themselves on is immigration, an issue that most of the alt-right manage to move a few steps right of Trump on.
This group of white supremacists rallying around Trump mainly because of his stance on immigration, while continuing to hold many liberal positions, is very young and underdeveloped; it is difficult to put everything about the movement down on paper, but the absolute worst imaginations and fascinations about the xenophobic, anti-immigrant rhetoric of the GOP had become proven correct upon the establishment of the alt-right.
Now, in all fairness, I did leave quite a few people out of the list: George Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, and many others, but there’s no avoiding the truth that the Republican Party has turned into a fundamentalist, radical, neo-reactionary political juggernaut in American politics. I tried hard to shorten this list, but a few quotes I missed include: “Slavery may have actually been a blessing in disguise,” as well as another Republican that dismissed embryology and the big bang theory as “lies straight from the pit of hell” from sittings Representatives Hubbard and Broun.
Each presidential era seems to create a new branch: Clinton and the social conservatives, Bush and the neoconservatives, Obama and the Tea Party, and Trump and the alt-right. I’m horribly afraid of what is next. The centrists have left or have been muffled by the noise of America’s craziest politicians. The GOP has slowly crept away into this land of insanity where regime change abroad has been vastly successful, oil companies and defense contractors are altruistic servants of the state, attempts to maintain the separation of religion and government are treacherous and anti-American, immigrants are only here for welfare and crime, and the Democrats are the cause of all misery. (Okay, the last one isn’t all that terrible.)
The conservative political machine has stomped out any social progress to end government surveillance or the War on Drugs, all the while denying facts and doing nothing to improve anything besides fearmongeromg over the most recent libertarian or democratic legislative proposal. The rare cases that Republicans do mobilize are on micro-issues that are more of a distraction. Rather than refining campaign finance or gerrymandering, they make up a problem of voter fraud that riles up voters, or they anger right-wingers by attacking lower-income food stamps recipients while blatantly ignoring corporate welfare.
Jake Dorsch is a college freshman at Drake University double majoring in quantitative economics and political science. Currently, he is the founder and President of Drake’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter and has been politically active before college.