I’ve been stymied for years about finding the most accurate label to affix to the far, far Right, which dominates what used to be the Republican Party.
I don’t like calling their Party “Republican”, as my experience was that Republicans always carved out a role, albeit limited, for a positive government presence in American life.
That Republican Party doesn’t exist anymore.
The term “Conservative” doesn’t work, either, as "conservative" is defined as cautious about change and adherent to traditional values. The ultra-Right is unrestrained, audacious and contemptuous of rules. The combined term, “Conservative Republican”, still understates the reality.
Some describe Right-wingers as “Libertarian”, but mostly they aren’t. Not when it comes to wasting tax dollars to overregulate people on public health or assistance, or determining who can live in America, or arbitrating those allowed to get married.
It is harder to recognize the existential distinction between Republicans and Democrats—that the Left favors labor over capital and the Right favors capital over labor. I grew up believing that both views are valid and that both blend elements of the other into their ideology. It was a matter of degree.
But not today.
The Far-Right resembles little the traditional Republican Party. Many of their policies undermine some of the holy canons of business. A strong public infrastructure to move goods and people, well funded public schools to feed a quality work force and fair and competitive business rules of engagement have been targets of the Right, not the Left.
The Right has effectively advanced the cynically inaccurate description of Liberals and Progressives that is plied with endless repetition and gusto-“Socialists”!
I wish there were a proper epithet to brand the 20% or so of Americans who are to the right of Right.
“Neo-Fascist” partly describes the ultra-Rights hyper-nationalism, muscular foreign policy and heavy-handed domestic proclivities. But of course, that term is loaded. I wouldn’t use it.
“Ultraconservative” might not go far enough. “Reactionary”? Maybe.
Finding the “right” adjective is a conundrum for the Left.
They are famously disadvantaged in language currency, in part because they are not a monolithic structure. The delegates at Democratic conventions resemble a many-patterned quilt, the Republican conventions a 400 thread-count white sheet.
The Pro-Choice moniker in the abortion debate is similarly problematic. The term has lost its mojo as younger, less politically allied constituencies gravitate away from single-issue politics.
Planned Parenthood is struggling for economic relevancy in describing women’s services. Meanwhile, Anti-Choice forces luxuriate in the comfort of simple, unambiguous language—Pro-life. Who isn’t?
Militant Progressives might decide to begin describing the Prolife movement as “Government Forced Childbirth Under Penalty Of Law.” At least it’s honest. But how do Liberals squeeze that onto a bumper sticker?
The Right has it easy. The vanishing core of right-center moderation has been cleared to make way for a political monolith that has linguistic clarity, but is difficult for the other side to acceptably brand.
Pity the poor linguists and social and political scientists who have to contend with the continuing rightward drift of the old Grand Old Party. Pretty soon the Rightists will be so far to the right that the remaining Republican moderates will be under the Democratic banner where they belong.
Then Democrats will have to work even harder to brand itself as the Party of everyone else except the…who?