There’s perhaps no better proof of our political vocabulary’s impoverishment than media portrayals of the Republican Party’s hard-right Freedom Caucus as “conservative.” In truth, there’s very little about today’s Republican Party as a whole – maybe better referred to as the Trump-ublican Party – that is conservative in any meaningful historical sense of the term. But it’s especially revolting to hear the likes of Boebert, Greene, Gaetz and Gosar referred to (over and over again, no less) as the “conservative wing” of the (otherwise normal and mainstream?) Republican Party.
Is insisting on a “stolen” 2020 election and voting against certifying Biden’s Electoral College victory over Trump – surely the most prolific liar and lawbreaker (indeed, the ringleader of an insurrection) ever to occupy the White House – conservative?
How is demanding virtually unlimited gun proliferation and promoting white supremacist political violence conservative by any stretch of political imagination?
What is conservative about embracing a wild range of wild-eyed Q-Anon conspiracy “theories” and treating so-called “culture war” issues as if they were life-and-death struggles ?
A House of Representatives under the extortionist thumb of the Freedom Caucus will likely be the most “radical” legislative body the U.S. has seen since Democrats under Franklin Roosevelt crafted the New Deal. But whereas the New Deal Congress was radically progressive in its response to a massive economic breakdown, establishing the foundation of a national-level social safety net, this Congress will attempt to be, I believe, as radically reactionary as it can be, doing all it can to rip apart that safety net.
A Trump-ublican Party goaded and lashed by the Freedom Caucus may well make a lot of noise about slashing the Defense budget by some impressive figure, but its real target, I fear, will be Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, housing assistance, and so on, right down the line of social spending – all the while ignoring, of course, the economic misery affecting half the nation, and the truly existential threat posed by climate chaos.
Watch and see. I sincerely hope I’m wrong.