Stop Using the R-Word


Most conservatives identity as “Republican”, but what does that even mean anymore?

When I was young, a “Republican” meant someone who was pro-military, anti-Russia, pro-business, and who wanted lower taxes and less government. Supporting racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, and anti-LGBTQ views was not uncommon in the party, but it was not a litmus test for Republican candidates.

There were more racist Republicans than Democrats, and Republicans were more anti-gay than Democrats, but neither issue was a litmus test. You didn’t need to be a racist to be a Republican. Sone of my extended family were “progressive Republicans” (yes, that term once existed) who agreed with conservative views on the economy and war, but were more liberal on social issues. Such people have since been forced out of the party.

Nixon was neither a good person nor a good President, but he opened relations with China, pushed for alternative energy, and fought for universal healthcare. Compared to modern Republicans, he was a socialist.

For three decades, the religious-right made Republicans the face of alleged “family values”. Then they helped a racist, sexist moron who objectifies and sexually assaults women take the White House, cheered him on, and continue to support him even as his failures and scandals rack up. It is no longer a party that represents any value besides pandering to the wealthy, pandering to racists, and pandering to Christian extremists.

One thing traditional Republicans were always good for was standing up for the ideas of democracy and capitalism. Now, Republicans - funded by neo-feudalists like the Kochs and the Mercers, pandering to neo-Nazi groups, likely colluding with Russia, and infected by evangelical Christians that want America to be effectively a Christian theocracy – have become a threat to democracy and a competitive free market.

I respect a person’s right to self-identify as “Republican” as much as any other identity, but maybe a word that has come have so many terrible connotations should not be used by outsiders. As black people can choose to use the N-word and gay men can use the word “fag”, maybe only conservatives should be able to call each other the R-word.

Beyond cultural sensitivity, there is a good reason not to use the R-word. It means too many things. It is misleading. It has become a smokescreen behind which people hide and justify their malice and hate. It would be better to describe “Republicans” each by what they actually are:

  • Wealthy suburbanites willing to sell our country’s future for a tax cut
  • Christian extremists trying to make this country into a Christian caliphate
  • Racists, often hiding behind the term “alt-right”
  • Neo-Nazis, often hiding behind the term “alt-right”
  • Libertarians who don’t realize their ideology has been stolen by right-wing extremists
  • People who have no political ethos besides whatever drivel is fed to them by Fox News
  • Angry, undereducated, poor whites that want to blame immigrants instead of corrupt politicians and their own sense of entitlement for their plight
  • Closeted gay men who need to hide behind the mantle of homophobia
  • Despicable conservatives who will sell out anything else to protect their gun rights
  • Despicable conservatives who will sell out anything else to attack women’s reproductive rights
  • Internet trolls
  • Russians – the other R-word that is a threat to democracy
  • Kid Rock and Ted Nugent fans. (I know, weird, but both men still have some fans, for some reason. Don’t judge).
  • Decent conservatives who need to wake up and start a conservative party not populated by religious nuts, racists, and billionaire apologists