Republicans: conservative or just as radical?
The Republican Party is not conservative. Yes, you read correctly. Donald Trump and his party no longer follow the conservative values they had enshrined for decades.
When you think of today’s “conservative” Republican Party, many probably think of Trump. Also associated with today’s Republican Party are its so-called “patriots”: supporters who possess radical national sentiment, create controversy, and ardently believe in conspiracy theories.
But, in reality, these perceptions do not represent the core conservative beliefs that were introduced by pioneering conservative figures like Klemens Von Metternich and Edmund Burke as well as modern American conservatives like Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.
Today’s “conservative” figures taint the original core values of conservatism, and their actions and decisions will undoubtedly have a profound impact on the future of the conservative movement by changing the definition of what it means to be conservative.
“An approach to human affairs that distrusts both a priori reasoning and revolution, preferring to trust experience and the gradual improvement of proven devices”
– Edmund Burke on conservatism
The basic conservative ideas were popularized in the 18th and 19th centuries and centered on values such as prudence, social continuity and rational thought. Today, these fundamental ideals are either diluted or completely contradicted by the bigoted republican politics and ideology of the 21st century.
For example, take former President Trump’s 2016 proposal to ban Muslim immigrants from entering the United States. According to the fundamental conservative ideal of rational thought, this bill would be unethical because more than 3 million Muslims are already part of the American workforce and more than 60% of these members are immigrants.
This rash decision also poses a significant risk of souring relations between the United States and Muslim-majority countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Pakistan. Several US allies have openly criticized the legislation, including United Nations allies who mentioned he “violated” their most basic principles of equality and international conscience. This supposedly conservative bill was not created using rational thinking and portrayed the United States as an aggressive and angry state.
Another event committed at the whim of the so-called “conservatives” was the attempted insurrection at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Throughout history, there are two words that cannot be confused: Revolution and conservatism. The attempted revolt of “conservative” individuals who thought they were representing their “conservative” elected officials shows the extent to which the original principles of American conservatism have been manipulated.
In 1790, the “father of conservatism”, Edmund Burke, published a book called “Reflections on the Revolution in France“ who strongly denounced the ongoing French Revolution and the overthrow of the Bourbon monarchy. Of course, the idea of a monarchy is no longer part of conservative ideology, but the principles of continuity and incremental change are.
Conservatives like Burke would be appalled by the events of January 6 and would no doubt have refuted the claim that these people were conservatives.
Many of these “conservatives” also believe in a conspiracy theory called “QAnonwho believes that Trump was sent to “drain the swamp” of Satanic Democrats and child predators.
I would argue that every founding conservative thinker in history, because of their commitment to rational thought and societal stability, would wholeheartedly denounce every piece of QAnon propaganda. Theories like this promote irrational and radical change and instability, the exact opposite of what conservatism promotes.
The dramatic events of the past four years have forever tainted, but hopefully not completely altered the views of true conservatism. If Republicans continue to support the ideals of radical individuals and display biased and irrational behavior, they should and must drop the title of “conservative.”
By raising questions like this, I hope to draw attention to the growing views on radicalism that have engulfed politics in this country in recent years.
We are a country of values and morals, not anger and conspiracy. We must defend the American vision, not the Republican or Democratic vision. Although these words may sound a bit cliché, I think it is vitally important to recognize radicalism before it becomes endemic and destroys our great democracy.