The French Revolution began with disaffected aristocrats wanting to reform their stodgy, inflexible political system. If only King Louis XVI would accept a more liberal Constitutional Monarchy, France could enter into a bright new future.
Once the revolution was underway, a group of the bourgeoisie decided these modest goals weren’t progressive enough, so they formed the Jacobin Club to steer the reforms further to the Left.
When the king was deposed, a group of Jacobins decided the club itself wasn’t progressive enough. They brought in the lower classes and formed the Montagnards to steer the movement even further to the Left.
The ascendant left empowered Maximilien Robespierre to launch the Reign of Terror, but a group of Montagnards decided he still wasn’t progressive enough. They formed the Hébertists to steer the nation further to the Left still.
In American politics, a similar dynamic is taking place, this time from the supposed right:
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) has been able to count on his Facebook page for stalwart support during his long-running battle with the House Republican leadership, including a successful effort to oust House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).
“Keep up the great work,” read a comment posted last week. “We the people thank you for ridding us of John Boehner!”
But in recent days, the tone of the comments on Meadows’s page, and those of the other members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, have changed significantly.
“You truly should be ashamed,” one commenter wrote Thursday. “The people in the caucus will be held responsible come election day.”
“You should all be replaced,” a critic told Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.). Another called Rep. Raúl R. Labrador (R-Idaho), one of the most persistent thorns in Boehner’s side, “a RINO establishment lap dog” and “another go-along to get along phony who will GLADLY step on the throats of the Conservative electorate.”
I say “supposed right” because many voices attempting to enforce purity on the House GOP are flirting with a big government presidential candidate. While screams of “RINO” and “sell-out” rise from the angriest corners of the Internet and talk radio, Donald Trump is sticking it to the squishes by promoting campaign finance reform, defending Medicare and Social Security, praising burkas, attacking the Christianity of his rivals, and subtly walking back his stand on immigration.
Today, a leading pro-Trump website hit the House Freedom Caucus for being establishment stooges. The article specifically attacks Reps. Mulvaney, Labrador, Amash, Jorden and Meadows; those congressmen have Liberty Scores ranging from 93 to 96 percent.
And if my inbox full of donation pleas is any guide, several political groups and conservative personalities have learned that the more shrill their cries for the heads of party leaders, the more money they make. As the purity-for-profit tumbrels roll down Pennsylvania Avenue, remember that every stroke of the guillotine leads to a smaller and meaner party.
A political movement waging a continuous reign of terror against its most loyal members is a movement doomed. It appears that many “conservatives” are so used to being against things, they no longer know what they’re for.