Us versus them politics, pitting one group against another, is as old as the hills. Vulnerable groups are targeted. Language is weaponized. And resentment is mobilized along race, class and gender lines. Unbridled nationalism with lots of flag waving is the soundtrack. The rise of the right in the U.S. did not occur overnight. It didn’t happen because millions of people suddenly started listening to Alex Jones or reading Breitbart News. The widespread influence of right-wing ideology is not unique to this period in U.S. history. Its roots are deep and the historical trends point the way to where we are today: the right has a firm grip on many political and cultural institutions. The Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Robert Mercer and others with their deep pockets bankroll many so-called conservative organizations that promote unregulated, predatory capitalism and climate change denial.
Chip Berlet is an investigative journalist and coordinator of the Building Human Rights Network. His byline has appeared in scores of publications, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Progressive. For many years he served as senior analyst at Political Research Associates.