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Mon Feb 8, 2021, 05:40 AM

How the GOP Surrendered to Extremism

Last edited Mon Feb 8, 2021, 07:24 AM - Edit history (1)

Sixty years ago, many GOP leaders resisted radicals in their ranks. Now they’re not even trying.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/02/republican-extremism-and-john-birch-society/617922/



It’s an image that still shocks in its feral intensity: On July 14, 1964, supporters of Barry Goldwater, the arch-conservative senator from Arizona whom the Republican Party was preparing to crown as its presidential nominee, unleashed a torrent of boos against New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller as he spoke at the party’s national convention in San Francisco. More than half a century later, Goldwater’s army of conservatives from cookie-cutter Sun Belt subdivisions howling their discontent at Rockefeller—the embodiment of the GOP’s centrist, East Coast establishment—remains a milestone in the right’s conquest of the party. The atmosphere was so heated that Jackie Robinson, who was a Rockefeller supporter, nearly got into a fight on the floor with a Goldwater acolyte from Alabama. What’s less remembered is why Rockefeller, who had lost the nomination to Goldwater, was standing behind the lectern in the first place: to speak in support of an amendment to the party platform that would condemn political extremism.

The resolution repudiated “the efforts of irresponsible extremist organizations,” including the Communist Party, the Ku Klux Klan, and the John Birch Society, a rapidly growing far-right grassroots group obsessed with the alleged communist infiltration of America. The resolution failed, which testifies to the GOP’s long-standing reluctance to draw a bright line against the extremists who congregate at its fringes. But the fact that such a resolution was debated at all—in such a visible venue, with such high-profile advocates—also says something about Republicans today: In the past, the GOP had a stronger core of resistance to extremism than it’s had in the era of Donald Trump, QAnon, the Proud Boys, and Marjorie Taylor Greene. “There were a lot more Republican leaders, and their constituents, who attempted to push back then than there are now,” says Matthew Dallek, a political historian at George Washington University and the author of an upcoming history of the John Birch Society. “To a large extent, the people who have inherited the Birch legacy today, I think, are more empowered [and] more visible within the Republican Party. There is much less criticism; there is much less of an effort to drum them out; there is a much greater fear of antagonizing them. They are the so-called Republican base.”

The question of how Republicans deal with the extremists in their ranks is now more urgent than perhaps at any other point since the Birch Society’s heyday in the 1960s. So far, as Dallek notes, the party has done little to uproot them. Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House GOP leader, this week reportedly pressured Greene to apologize for past statements that were racist, anti-Semitic, and encouraged violence, and to relinquish one committee assignment. But ultimately the GOP chose to take no action against her and instead criticized a floor vote Democrats scheduled for today to remove her from all her committees. (By several accounts, many of Greene’s GOP colleagues even gave her a standing ovation after she addressed a caucus meeting yesterday afternoon.) Nor have McCarthy and other GOP leaders shown any interest in acting against the House members who promoted or spoke at Trump’s rally ahead of the January 6 attack on the Capitol. And while GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and some other Senate Republicans have criticized Greene—a relatively easy target—almost all have signalled that they will not vote in Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial to impose any consequences on him for his role in fomenting the attack.

In these accommodating responses, the GOP appears caught on a treadmill. The more the party allows itself to be branded as tolerating (or even welcoming) extremism, the more its support is likely to erode among previously Republican-leaning constituencies, especially white-collar suburbanites. That, in turn, will make the party only more dependent on massive turnout among the most culturally alienated voters who compose the Trump base. And that pressure could further erode any willingness on leaders’ part to isolate people like Greene who push cultural alienation to the point of conspiracy theories, open racism and anti-Semitism, and threats of violence. Greene is hardly alone out there: Polls have found that a significant minority of Republican voters believe the QAnon conspiracy theory (that a cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophiles was leading the opposition to Trump). Surveys have also consistently found that the large majority of rank-and-file Republican voters believe Trump’s equally baseless claims that the election was stolen.

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Arrow 25 replies Author Time Post
Reply How the GOP Surrendered to Extremism (Original post)
Celerity Feb 2021 OP
Mister Ed Feb 2021 #1
BlueMTexpat Feb 2021 #7
Solly Mack Feb 2021 #2
calimary Feb 2021 #3
True Blue American Feb 2021 #4
calimary Feb 2021 #22
NJCher Feb 2021 #5
BlueMTexpat Feb 2021 #6
SmartVoter22 Feb 2021 #8
KY_EnviroGuy Feb 2021 #10
LeftInTX Feb 2021 #21
Harker Feb 2021 #9
LineLineNew Reply .
JHB Feb 2021 #17
Harker Feb 2021 #18
KY_EnviroGuy Feb 2021 #11
Wounded Bear Feb 2021 #19
Johnny2X2X Feb 2021 #12
David__77 Feb 2021 #13
Harker Feb 2021 #14
David__77 Feb 2021 #15
Harker Feb 2021 #16
JHB Feb 2021 #20
scarletwoman Feb 2021 #23
Hermit-The-Prog Feb 2021 #24
SmartVoter22 Feb 2021 #25

Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 05:58 AM

1. Surrendered?

"Man, they did make love to this occupation."

- Wm. Shakespeare

Good article, thanks for posting it.

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Response to Mister Ed (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 07:43 AM

7. Spot on quote!



Thanks for posting!

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 06:31 AM

2. K&R

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 06:52 AM

3. As long as that miserable disgrace of a political party keep shrinking.

I want them to shrink so small that they never have the numbers to dominate ANYWHERE. At ANY level.

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Response to calimary (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 07:02 AM

4. Shrink the party

So small you can drown it in a bathtub? Isn’t that what Grover Norquist had Politicians sign about Government?

Where is old Grover?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starve_the_beast#Political_advocacy

https://theconversation.com/the-shutdown-drowning-government-in-the-bathtub-111333

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Response to True Blue American (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 01:01 PM

22. Ah yes. That ol' "oldie but goodie."

Flipped over backwards on its ass and shoved back into republi-CON faces EVERYWHERE.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 07:14 AM

5. About the best we can say for the gop

Is that they do a great job of organizing crackpots.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 07:42 AM

6. Thanks for posting this article,

Celerity! I had my own personal encounter with the paranoid zealots known as Birchers in the early 60s in MT.

I could never understand how others did not realize just how dangerous they were - even then.

Now they have become mainstream GOPers in the state and are ruining it as fast as they can.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 08:11 AM

8. A big part is the who allowed this in GOP

This is a very good historical account of the 1964 right-wing leap of the GOP, but this occurred because of the 'whos' in that party, that lead it to that point.
After WWII, the neocons started the new and improved marketing program for the GOP. It involved some very wealthy people, who still today are using that family money to instill those 'neocon' values into core Republican thinking.
They started the John Birch Society, the main founding families were Wisconsin based. The Allen Bradley fortune was a key startup donor and the heirs, the Richard Uhlien (Uline.com) family continues to fuel the fear mongering marketing. The JBS HQ is in Appleton, WI, near the grave of Sen Joe McCarthy. We had the posse comatatus in the 1970's which is now the Tea Party gun freaks roaming the woods.
The current wisc legislature is controlled by some of the nation's most exteme racists, nationalists and anti-socialists that even the 1964 Goldwater die-hards would be embarassed over.
Until we, as a nation, prevent gerrymandering, Citizen's United and all the other sneaky runaround processes in our political systems, we will never end this decpetion and prevent our political parties from doing the right thing that our Constitution offered us, initially, and currently.

The who behind the what & when are still critically important to find out the why this is happening.

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Response to SmartVoter22 (Reply #8)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 08:50 AM

10. K&R for much truth.

And this is from a life-long user of Allen-Bradley electrical devices. Saddening to learn when the best in the business has been involved in the hard right-wing.

Apparently, the Bradley Foundation is still a funder of some of the most hardcore right-wing organizations in the U.S.

I was recently proud to dump a brand-new Uline catalog into recycle, a remnant of my past business days.

KY

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Response to SmartVoter22 (Reply #8)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 11:38 AM

21. Did not know about the posse comatatus group, but then again I didn't pay much attention to up north

Last edited Mon Feb 8, 2021, 12:10 PM - Edit history (1)

I had moved away completely by Sept 1979.
I graduated from HS in Neenah. The Menominee-Alexian Brothers' Novitiate thing was the big news from the area back then.

Sounds like this posse group became active after I was gone.
I lived in Green Bay for 8 months in 1979. It was the worst 8 months of my life. Everyone was into Tupperware...yes Tupperware....

Those woods are fertile ground for extremists. There is nothing to do up there...LOL
Literally nothing...


https://www.wausaudailyherald.com/story/news/local/2015/07/12/dan-hintz-posse-comitatus/30009027/

https://journaltimes.com/news/national/officers-raid-burn-compound-of-posse/article_5fe6d65b-1781-5ed7-98b2-672cf2c12743.html

https://apnews.com/article/2f6bc77e106ec869d53a05669aa4ed40

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 08:36 AM

9. Updating Goldwater's most memorable quote...

"Extremism in the destruction of democracy in the name of "liberty" is no vice."

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Response to Harker (Reply #9)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 10:25 AM

17. .

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Response to JHB (Reply #17)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 10:30 AM

18. Nice. Bang those drums! n/t

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 09:20 AM

11. One of the most frightening aspect of our political dilemma is...

that the ultra-wealthy backbone of the Republican Party is not rising up and speaking out against this insanity and violence. Not a single peep that I've heard. That may be because of their wealth, they have the most fearful mindset of any Americans.

They have the power and capability to bring this right-wing craze to a halt, just as they funded its beginnings.

I have a weird perspective of the Rethug Party. I see their everyday voters including MAGATs, small businessmen and all their state and federal politicians as just the facade of the Party. The real Party - its backbone - consists of a cabal of high wealth individuals and groups and high-power corporatists that fund the campaigns, dozens of think tanks and foundations that execute the evil of the American right-wing. And, it's global in scope because foreign money leaches into American businesses and right-wing programs.

For me, they are the real elephant in our room and I see no way to get through to them other than a total consumer revolt. I don't think Americans have the grit for that, even in better times.

--------------

Thanks for the good post, Celerity. It brings back a lot of memories.

Anyone else here remember seeing cans of Goldwater soda in 1964?

KY..........

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Response to KY_EnviroGuy (Reply #11)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 10:59 AM

19. Like Hillary said, there really is a vast RW conspiracy running things...

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 09:33 AM

12. This is really a post mortum

The GOP isn't struggling with anything, they've by and large embraced the crazies and now they're just weeding out the sane ones that were left.

Any suggestions that the GOP is struggling with this and could become moderate are misplaced. This fight is over, they're going firther out that Marjorie Taylor Green. She's their new normal.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 09:34 AM

13. It's not a matter of "extremism," rather racism and fascism.

...

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Response to David__77 (Reply #13)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 10:00 AM

14. It gets pretty tangled up.

Hard to separate all the hate-isms from extremism.

Any belief in racial or ethnic superiority, or favoring fascistic rule seems extreme to me.

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Response to Harker (Reply #14)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 10:05 AM

15. Extreme relative to what?

Relative to the way things are? I don’t know about that- Trump was just president. The framework “extremism” covers over the political questions and sets the stage for a equating racism and anti-racism as both “extreme.”

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Response to David__77 (Reply #15)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 10:10 AM

16. Extreme to my mellow, liberal temperament.

I see your point about "extreme" being indefinable in a general sense.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 11:13 AM

20. They "surrendered" to it because all their success rides on a cushion of rabid foam

Last edited Sat Mar 26, 2022, 09:12 AM - Edit history (1)

The policies of the Movement Conservatives who took over the party, and their wealthy backers/allies, aren't popular and couldn't get passed on their own merit. They want to restore the Gilded Age, where wealthy men had few if any impediments to doing whatever they wanted, and they liked the government they bought. They want to wipe out every law and policy put in place since the late 19th century that works for ordinary people.

How many votes would they get running on that?

Not many, so instead they promote rage and foam, but tried to keep it under control. Buckley gets a lot of credit for sidelining the Bircher leadership, but he and his crowd were hardly less extreme. They were just better at strategy. There was no hope of splitting, say, conservative Jewish voters away from the Democrats if the face of conservatism were people who reflexively spout anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

They still encouraged bile and foam from the general public. In the 70s they used early forms of data mining to identify hot-button issues that could be used to split New Deal-era voting blocks, foremost among them abortion and guns.

By the 80s they were driving the Rockefeller Republicans, who they considered quislings, to political extinction. They'd gotten the numbers they needed to not bother compromising.

All through the late 70s, 80s, and 90s they encouraged axe-grinding and played footsie with RW crusades in order to get votes. Newt Gingich and Frank Luntz tested and compiled radicalizing language and promoted its use by Republican candidates.

They scare-mongered and scandal-mongered and played to all the bigotries and pet peeves, and called it "playing hardball". They wanted to get conservative Republicans elected, and there was no part of that job that involved "dialing it back." They painted Democrats as supervillains: utterly-corrupt, moral degenerates out to destroy the nation and all that's good and holy to get their voters all hot-blooded and into the voting booth.

Their entire success has been built on not compromising. The closest they come is when they act to blunt or stall actions by Democrats until Republicans are back in the driver's seat again.

But the drawback is: When you paint the story that way, it's supposed to end with you bringing the bad guys to justice. They rot in jail, or better yet get hanged or fried. Blow up the Death Star. Drop the Ring into the fires of Mount Doom. The Enemy surrenders unconditionally and their symbols get blown up.


They turned the Party of Lincoln into the Party of Salome. Salome is the base, and she grew increasingly pissed that the establishment Herods weren't bringing her the heads she'd asked for.

They turned the Party of Abe into the Party of Ahab. Ahab is the base, who if their chests were cannons they'd shoot their hearts out like cannonballs to trigger the libs.

They built a base that wants this:

But never gets it.

When you tell that story for decades, continually amping it up to keep the audience's blood at a rolling boil, you create an expectation that you can never really deliver on. You can justify decades of investigations and re-investigations and re-re-re-re-re-re-re-investigations, but that's not going turn up anything that will hold up in court. So you put yourself into the position of portraying the other side as unbearably evil and an active threat, and then don't do anything about it. The base still has their hot buttons pushed, still believes every word of it, they just start thinking you're ineffectual at best, or more likely are part of the problem.

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Response to JHB (Reply #20)

Mon Feb 8, 2021, 09:22 PM

23. "They want to restore the Gilded Age,

where wealthy men had few if any impediments to doing whatever they wanted, and they liked the government they bought. They want to wipe out every law and policy put in place since the late 19th century that works for ordinary people."


Exactly. Excellent post!

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Response to JHB (Reply #20)

Tue Feb 9, 2021, 12:50 AM

24. That's the best summation I've read yet. Thank you.

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Response to JHB (Reply #20)

Tue Feb 9, 2021, 06:48 AM

25. Thank You JHB

Your reply is insightful.
I have shared my views with many younger people, in WIsconsin and they are surprised to learn about the 1950's McCarthy era.
Many do not see modern Republicans rejecting the nonsense, as easily as was done back then.
"Have you no decency, Sir?" and McCarthy's censure and of course, Edward R Murrow's famous take down on CBS.
&feature=youtu.be

Today, we need to re-kindle that rejection, with the younger ones leading the method of communicating the rejection of extremism.

And it's comments, like yours, as well as those highly anticipated "Daily Toons" that help us all keep this at the forefront in DU.

It inspired me to become a Star Member and my first heart's anonymity won't need to hide behind a Q, and R or a D.

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