The Republican Party’s radicalization

Adam Hilton, assistant professor of politics, says that economic anxiety is only part of the complex mix of why Republicans have become radicalized by conspiracy theories.

By Christian Feuerstein

Many in the Republican Party in America have shifted more to the right, fueled by conspiracy theories such as QAnon. A recent article in The Boston Globe suggests that economic hardship and anxiety have fueled this rightward shift, but as part of a mix that includes racism, sexism, xenophobia and long-simmering resentment of the expansion of the federal government. 

Adam Hilton, assistant professor of politics, spoke to the newspaper about how Trump tapped into this complex blend. 

“The insecurity is real in an economic sense, but the genius of Trump’s populism was to tie it into a notion that there’s an injustice,” he said. “He spoke to some legitimate and factually-based questions about the economy, but also xenophobia and racism and immigration.” 

Hilton pointed to the rise of the tea party during Obama’s presidency and its membership’s support of Trump. 

“A Black president, an economic crisis and massive forms of government intervention,” Hilton said. “That provided an opportunity for people to feel very nervous about living in a country that they don’t seem to recognize anymore.” 

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