Skip to main content

When I talk about my experiences in the John Birch Society, many liberals scoff.

"Those old crackpots are all dead," they say. "All of that Communist paranoia, international conspiracy stuff is so 1960s. America has moved on."

If you believe that, you're wrong.

What we're seeing today is a re-birth of the same radical ideas that drove the Birch movement back in the day. Remember this, in the 1960s, the John Birch Society was a largest, most effective and most extreme populist political movement in US history.

Today's far right-wing politicians have not formally joined the John Birch Society. In fact, most of them would scoff at the idea that they'd be Birchers. They may not have membership cards in their wallets, but they spout John Birch Society ideas.

Here are a few keys to recognizing the new incarnations of old John Birchers.
When you hear the drumbeat about dismantling the safety net because it's socialism, that's Birch talk.

When the needy and unemployed are called lazy and accused of living high on the government dole, you're hearing Birch ideas.  
When John Boehner blubbers about taxes on the rich and government regulation stifling the economy, you're hearing John Birch thinking. When he describes his job as repealing laws (not passing them)," he's channeling Birch political theory.

When Paul Ryan yammers about the culture of dependency, he could be quoting any of a dozen speeches given by John Birch founder, Robert Welch.

When the right sounds very anti-civil rights, you are hearing Robert Welch and his John Birch Society born again. Welch insisted that the integration of schools in the South would lead to a permanent police state and roving bands of Negroes (his word) killing white folks.
When the GOP gives the stage to nut jobs like Michele Bachmann, Louie Gomert, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin and Steve King (to name just a few), I hear the Birch leaders who filed in and out of my family home spouting ideas just as jarring and radical.
When Rand Paul and his father opine about some nefarious government plot, they sound like Robert Welch insisting the President Dwight Eisenhower was a Communist agent. (Yes, the Republican president and World War II hero).

When Ted Cruz claims that Commies were on the Harvard Law School faculty, he could be channeling Robert Welch (Birch founder) who directed John Birch members to find and name the "secret Communists" who looked like and sounded like "real Americans," but were really traitors.

Today's radical right wing ideas are re-writes of the same old stuff that the Birchers peddled back in the day. This time, however, the extremists have a lot more money, their own media outlets, control of the House of Representatives and 30 state legislatures.
These folks want to "take America back," just like the Birchers did in the 1960s. Today's right wingers call it a return to the will of the founders. They call it Christianizing the country. They call it saving America from socialism.

Let's call it what it is: a radical right-wing takeover.

And let's realize that it's been fifty years in the making.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site