The Republican Party is not conservative. Yes, you read that correctly. Donald Trump and his party no longer follow the conservative values that they had ordained for decades.
When today’s “conservative” Republican party comes to mind, many probably think of Trump. Also associated with today’s Republican party are his so-called “patriots:” followers 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 are tainting 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 a conservative.
“An approach to human affairs which mistrusts both a priori reasoning and revolution, preferring to put its trust in the experience and in the gradual improvement of tried and tested arrangements”
– Edmund Burke on conservatism
Core conservative ideas were popularized in the 18th and 19th centuries and centered around values like prudence, social continuity and rational thinking. Today these fundamental ideals are either being diluted or completely contradicted by 21st-century fanatical Republican policy and ideology.
For example, let’s take former President Trump’s 2016 proposal to ban Muslim immigrants from entering the United States. According to the core conservative ideal of rational thinking, this proposed piece of legislation would be unethical due to the fact that more than 3 million Muslim people are already in the U.S. workforce, and over 60% of these members are immigrants.
This rash decision also presents a significant risk of souring the relationships between the United States and predominantly Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Pakistan. Several U.S. allies have been outspoken critics of the legislation, including United Nation allies who said it “violated” their most basic principles of equality and international awareness. This so-called conservative piece of legislation was not created using rational thinking, and it portrayed the United States as an aggressive, quick-tempered state.
Another event committed at the discretion of so-called “conservative” people was the attempted insurrection at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Throughout history, there are two words that do not mold together: Revolution and conservatism. The attempted revolt by “conservative” individuals who believed that they were representing their elected “conservative” representatives shows just how much 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“ that strongly denounced the ongoing French Revolution and the toppling of the Bourbon monarchy. Of course, the idea of a monarchy is no longer a part of conservative ideology, but the principles of continuity and gradual change are.
Conservatives like Burke would be appalled over the events on January 6 and would have undoubtedly rebuked the claim that these people were conservatives.
Many of these “conservatives” also believe in a conspiracy theory called “QAnon,” which 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 thinking and societal stability, would whole-heartedly denounce every single bit of QAnon propaganda. Theories like this promote irrational, radical change and instability, the exact opposite of what conservatism promotes.
The dramatic events that have happened over the past four years have forever tainted, but hopefully not completely altered the views of real conservatism. If Republicans continue to support the ideals of radical individuals and exhibit biased, irrational behavior, they should and must drop the title of “conservative.”
By bringing up issues such as this, I hope to bring attention to the growing views of radicalism that have engulfed politics in this country in recent years.
We are a country of values and morals, not of anger and conspiracy. We should defend the American vision, not the Republican or Democratic vision. Though these words might sound somewhat cliché, I feel that it is of vital importance to recognize radicalism before it becomes rampant and destroys our great democracy.