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It's Not Just Trump Conservatives Are Wrong
Donald Trump merely joined a movement that had already become extremist

[1,095 words]
Kennth Bryant
[January 2023]
Liberals And Capitalism (Essays) Liberals are not against business or markets, but they understand the need for rules and safety nets [610 words]
Race And The Idea Of Individualism (Essays) Talking about society in terms of individualism keeps us from addressing systemic racism [1,240 words]
Working People Don't Care About Inequality (Essays) Working people don't blame their struggles on the system or inequality [1,026 words]
It's Not Just Trump Conservatives Are Wrong
Kennth Bryant

 Critics of former President Donald Trump along with the political pundits and media continue to claim his election in 2016 ruined conservatism, the Republican Party, and American politics. They say our society and political democracy were fine before Donald Trump came along and messed up everything. The establishment is wrong ! Our economy hasn't benefitted working people for more than forty years. At the same time we have not made nearly enough progress towards a free and equal society for all. Conservative politics is partly responsible for our problems. Not only has the political right undermined our economy in order to advance the interests of big corporations and the wealthy; conservatives have used racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia to mobilize their base. Trump didn't start any of this. He joined the Republican Right for power and glory. Its not just Trump conservatives are wrong. This has been the case for a long time.

Conservatives have been using race for years to get white votes. They made crime, welfare, and affirmative action race problems - things that threaten white people by pushing certain narratives. Black men are criminals who endanger white lives and property. This requires more money for law enforcement, long prison sentences, police racially profiling, stopping, and frisking any black man they see. There's also the image of a black woman with multiple children getting cash, food stamps, housing, and healthcare from the government taking tax dollars from hardworking white people. Reagan popularized this notion of the " Welfare Queen" while running for President in 1980 when the conservative ascendancy in American politics began. All this feeds resentment among whites.

Fast forward to 2021 now the problem is critical race theory in public schools. Critical Race theory was developed by academics especially the late Derrick Bell, a Harvard law professor, and others beginning in the 1970s. It posits the systemic racist nature of American law and public policy past and present. The theory has always been controversial within academia and was usually a graduate level university course. However conservatives falsely claim it is being taught in history and social studies to elementary and high school kids. They claim it makes America and white people out as racists shaming white children. Conservative commentators and media pushed this idea in the aftermath of protests and racial unrest surrounding the killing of George Floyd setting off a populist backlash among white parents. It led to heated arguments and violence at local school board meetings across the country. Whites claimed their rights to control their children's education were being taken away. In the race for Governor of Virginia Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe by making this a central issue.

However, the most dangerous idea coming from conservatives includng Fox News personality Tucker Carlson is Great Replacement Theory. The idea that non whites through immigration and higher birthrates are going to replace whites as the majority in America. This will mean less political power for white people. Furthermore the political left and Democrats through open border policies are driving the trend to build their political base. Of course this leads to fear and anger among whites who have turned to violence. The idea inspired Patrick Crusius to kill 23 Hispanic Americans in an El Paso Texas Walmart in 2019. More recently at the time of this post another white man armed with an assault rifle - Payton Gendron killed 10 black people in a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo New York. Both men posted online about the Great Replacement prior to the attacks. This politics of white resentment over changes that began with the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s is motivated by ideology and opportunism. What's worse racists and political extremists usually on the fringe are becoming part of the mainstream thanks to the Republican Right.

Xenophobia is closely tied racism on the political right too. Patrick Buchanan a former official in the Nixon Administration, television personality, and columnist was opposing both legal and illegal immigration claiming it would end American and Western Christian Civilization before Donald Trump even became a Republican. He even wrote a book The Death of the West : How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization. Many people might forget Buchanan ran for President three times between 1992 and 2000. He failed to get the GOP nomination in 1992 and 1996 before running as the Reform Party candidate in 2000. Over the years Buchanan was fiercely critical of free trade too especially the North American Free Trade Agreement ( NAFTA) and globalism which he claimed destroyed American manufacturing and working class people's lives. This combined with anti abortion social conservatism predated Donald Trump by two decades. For conservatives, especially whites. immigration is viewed with suspicion and hostility even if it's legal. Immigrants are associated with crime, job loss, and cultural change. For many people on the political right it's like they're "taking over." Donald Trump's brand of nationalist, xenophobic, populism is right where it belongs in the conservative Republican Party.

While President Trump introduced a travel ban on Muslims after taking office in 2017 his right leaning Republican opponents appear hypocritical because Islamophobia was a political tool to engage their base before Trump came along.

After the 9/11 terrorist attack anti Islamic sentiment spread across the country and many conservatives helped spread the notion that Islam is synonymous with terrorism. Right wing commentators and activists pushed the idea as the US went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq billing it as a clash between the America and the Christian West versus the Islamic world. Many on the right claim that no Muslim can be a loyal American. By 2010 anti Islamic groups with strong conservative ties were pushing anti Sharia Law legislation in numerous states with 201 bills proposed and 14 enacted including those in Texas and Arkansas. Supporters claimed the laws were needed to keep Sharia from being imposed on Americans. It didn't matter that nothing like that was happening. Sharia has to do with personal faith and living within Islam. It's rooted in the Quran and Sunnah (which are personal sayings attributed to the Phrophet Muhammad). It has nothing to do with law in a legal sense. Moreover Muslims disagree about it's nature and application. Of course none of this mattered to activists wrongly claiming it subverts the American legal system. So if you think Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green's anti Muslim rhetoric and attacks on fellow representative Ilhan Omar are something new and you blame Donald Trump think again. This has been part of Conservatism for years.


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December 2022

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