Is the Republican party still "conservative"?

Not to put words into his mouth, but if you call say Trump or MTG “conservatives” it gives them credibility. It puts them in the same room as Reagan and George HW Bush. When in fact they’re fascists. Calling a fascist a conservative normalizes fascism. It become a “difference of opinion” instead of something you firebomb cities for.

If that makes sense.

And it’s a thing that happens when you’re talking about centrists quite a bit.

So does the term radical liberals have the same cachet?

Hey, if you want to spend your precious few remaining hours on earth parsing the incoherent ideologies of right-wing shitsacks, feel free.

Personally, I like to separate them into the one’s who will openly use the term “mud people” and the ones that just think it.

To some extent. But the GOP and their ilk work it in the opposite direction, they label full-on Leftists as liberal to get the association going.

I mean it’s possible calling the Capitol insurrectionists conservative hurts the conservative brand at the end of the day, but when it comes to actual fascists who are in say Congress calling them conservative helps them. And then they point back to stupid shit like calling Bush Jr Hitler and whatnot.

At the end of the day it’s a messaging war and historically the left has sucked at those. I mean the NYTimes is probably writing about how “fascism isn’t that bad and it’s not fascism anyway, comon, guys,” as we read this.

@ShivaX has the right of it. And since it’s Margaret Sullivan’s premise, you should check out that Washington Post editorial I linked.

But I consider a major part of the normalization how people who call them “conservative” are actually talking about them as if they had some sort of political ideology. And they absolutely don’t. Being a Trump supporter involves basically forsaking political ideology in favor of whatever Trump says or does on any given day. It’s a ideologically bankrupt cult of personality. When you ascribe to it a political perspective that doesn’t exist, you give an air of legitimacy. You acknowledge it as a potential partner in a discussion of policies and ideas.

Again, sorry to re-hash all this because I’ve said it here many times before. But I think it’s worthwhile to point out that extremists don’t deserve to be normalized. That’s a new angle on why I wish people would be more precise with language.

Also, I love @FinnegansFather’s point that it pisses them off if you call them radicals. That should close the book on the argument right there! :)


I understand all of your argument except this. Who, besides us, will do this? Is anyone?

The Republican Party isn’t a political ideology, for sure. It’s a lifestyle brand about being an asshole.

At least, that’s the topic of my thesis.

But in their world they are not the assholes, we are. Wait… I need a moment.

This entire disagreement is like a recapitulation of every descriptive vs. prescriptive argument about language.

The good news is we don’t have to call them conservative anymore because “insurrectionists” and “traitors” is accurate. The center doesn’t push back on those terms because they agree and if supposed conservatives want to equate those things, then little of value is ultimately lost. Libertarianism is generally a better ideology to conservatism anyway.

Conservative talk radio is a really common term. Because of the people it refers to and the philosophy they popularized, millions of Americans literally believe that the election was stolen from Trump and that violent insurrection is the only available recourse. Rush doubled down. Fox News is saying that it was really Antifa (and therefore the MAGAs are blameless). Conservative refers to these people and their views. All of them. I think it’s time that people who want to support traditions or fiscal responsibility or small government or whatever it is, a) put some actual principles into practice besides protecting privilege and b) turn conservative into the dirty word it now deserves to be by identifying as something else, the same way communists and liberals had to choose new names and the same way they are trying to force socialists to.

Just please don’t call them Radical Republicans. That noble constituency deserves better.

“Trump Republicans” doesn’t really roll off the tongue. Once there was a sect of semi-sane republicans called Rockefeller Republicans. I always liked that alliteration. So I propose Rottenfucker Republicans.

The irony is, I am an unabashed prescriptivist!

It just so happens that the way the term ought to be used, when the entire history of conservatism (which goes back far further than the mid-20th century, when there was an attempt to claim classical liberalism and conservatism were synonyms) is understood, and the way the term is used in the US in 2021, coincide.

Oh, actually, generally when i say conservatives i mean the day-to-day GOP voter, the sort that pulled the level before the siege and will continue to pull the level after the siege, and not these tip-of-the-spear radicals. I wouldn’t call the insurrectionists “conservatives” and at this point neither the Republican politicians who continued to vote for rejecting the electors from states they wished they had won… i mean, i wouldn’t, but they themselves do.

But imo Margaret Sullivan is making an argument that doesn’t have to be made anymore, in the same way that we don’t have a “pro-slavery” and “anti-slavery” position, or a “pro-monarchy” and “anti-monarchy” debate. Hers is a reflection of decades of normalization of political vandalism and sabotage by the right, of insisting that there is “another point of view”, of rejecting the very premise that the political opposition is starts from a valid point fo beginning. It’s a quixotic attempt at saving political dualism that doesn’t need safe guarding because the other side has nothing left to say, no answers other than solipsistic ones, and no solutions because as for problems they refuse to admit any (except those of their political opponents). We don’t really need two well heeled old white guys representing only degrees of difference debating across a news table the finer points of congressional politics anymore.

I’m also much less sanguine anymore about No True Scotsman arguments, especially w/re to political or religious definitions than i used to be. It’s not my place to defend definitions. After all we accept without a shrug that the party of Lincoln would happily tear the country apart that he saved and aren’t bothered that the party that opposed Lincoln and wrote constitutions declaring the inferiority of African-descended peoples are now the only thing standing between the party of Lincoln and they. Which is the true Islam? Boko Haram or Ibadism? Is it my place to declare all Hadith false? Which is the true Christianity? I grew up in a mainline Protestant environment - now evangelical denominations outnumber mainline church memberships 2 or 3 to 1. If virtually all Christians reject abortion, does it matter if their beliefs can be shown to be extra-biblical or not? Who gets to decide what a “true” conservative is vs. a self defined one?

Conservatism today, at least as far as i can tell, at best is jaundiced and atavistic. An ideology rejecting collective action as even a hypothetical solution, despairing of cultural and moral decay, fighting at the fences without hope of final victory or without any dreams. They throw themselves into culture wars like samurai, these Americans.

It’s these people that i’m calling conservatives, the GOP voters that will vote GOP regardless of what the GOP does, says, accomplishes, or promises. A people that have given up on the future and make themselves content making performative warfare in the present. So in a sense, it’s not up to me if that’s what makes up the majority of GOP voters today. It’s up to “real conservatives”, whoever they really are, to save conservativism from itself. But just like i don’t need to make the respectable pro-slavery argument for the slaveholders, i don’t have to save respectable conservativism from itself, because at this point conservativism is just naked despair, self interest, insanity, and fake news.

The party is comprised entirely of what you call “tip-of-the-spear radicals”. There is no Republican fringe anymore. It’s the whole darn thing and it has been for four years. Who’s disavowing MTG, Boebert, Cruz, Hawley, and various others who you would characterize as tip-of-the-spear?

What other kinds of Republicans are there? Again, you’re making a distinction that doesn’t exist. 74 million people voted for Trump because they were radicalized by their party, and it wasn’t a political ideology that did it to them.


…has no bearing on the issue. I’m not really interested in “saving conservatism”. My interest is in calling out extremism rather than giving it a different word to hide under.


It’s just all those folks self-identify as conservative. I think @Enidigm’s point is that you can’t fight the tide. The GOP is compromised and so is conservativism. There’s no conservativism to save. It’s what they say it is. It’s a little weird to carve out the tiny contingent of former-GOPers who now reluctantly vote democrat and say their definition of conservative holds over the 74 million Trump voters. That’s the distinction between them and, say, Al Qaeda. AQ is a tiny radical faction in a sea of a billion god-fearing Muslims. The GOP is the sea.