TRAVERS: The Alt-Right Are Not Conservatives

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The events of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over this past weekend sicken me. It is always disheartening and infuriating to see group violence, but it is particularly enraging when the perpetrators of such violence claim to represent your own ideology. Let me say without any hesitation that true Republicans whole-heartedly reject these people who claim to be a part of our party. These people are not conservatives, they are not Republicans. Those who seek to establish and ethno-state in America at the expense of minorities are in direct contradiction of conservative ideals. Allow me to explain how these opportunistic hate mongers have highjacked the conservative brand while failing to uphold the very principles that make conservatives conservatives.

The violence in Charlottesville caused an immense amount of damage: damage to property, to people, to life, and to the principles of our Nation. One of the victims of this week’s violence are conservatives who will now risk being lumped-in with these bigots due to their political ideology.

The Alt-Right are not simply conservatives who dislike entrenched politicians like Paul Ryan and John McCain, as the media have made them out to be. The Alt-Right represents the ideologies of white supremacy, white nationalism, and a false understanding of society and race. The Alt-Right rejects one of the pillars of conservatism, limited government, and instead advocate for a strong centralized government that is necessary to preserve “white civilization.”

Furthermore, the Alt-Right rejects the idea of neo-capitalism, another pillar of conservative ideology. One of principles of true Republicanism, the party of Lincoln, is equality of opportunity and the ability to stand as a self-reliant actor in world economics. The Alt-Right believes that capitalism as a system of equality ought to be limited to those who represent their racial and cultural standards.

The idea that the Alt-Right represents the repressed, but widespread goals and ideology of conservatives in general is simply false. As a conservative, deeply entrenched in conservative circles, I can confirm that Republicans hate the Alt-Right and their ideas, perhaps even more than our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. We hate them not only because of their bigotry and violence, but also because they have stolen a part of our identity and by extension ostracized us from our liberal friends and peers.

I honestly believe that liberals and conservatives have far more in common than many people realize. We both want prosperous and safe communities in America, we simply disagree on how to go about achieving these goals. The Alt-Right on the other hand wishes to destroy the American ideal that both liberals and conservatives hope to uphold.

I challenge liberals, who have sworn opposition to the Republican party due to conservative ties to the hateful rhetoric of the Alt-Right, to reconsider who they believe to be the enemy. I also challenge my Republican friends to loudly and frequently reject these terrorists who have highjacked our party and beliefs. As united Americans committed to rejecting these bigots, we may yet save the Republican party and avoid the division the Alt-Right hopes to establish.

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