What do you think of when you hear the word "radical"? Sixties radicals like Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground robbing banks, setting bombs and blowing themselves up? How about the Tea Party? Do you think Tea Partiers warrant the same designation as the Weather Underground? Some people think so. Consider, for example, just recently, an anchor at CNN referred to "Tea Party radicals".
To dimmer Left wing trolls, radical is just another pejorative, like "fascist". They don't necessarily know what the words mean, but they sound like insults when they are on the receiving end of them, so the ever "Green" Left recycles the epithets for the Right.
But, could there be an element of truth there, where both parties are correct? The key is just how you look at the word "radical". The word radical has to do with "getting to the root" of things. For those of us who still remember long division, that symbol for finding a square root, is coincidentally called the "radical sign". But what does it mean when it comes to politics? The sixties radical was typically anti-government, anti-capitalist, and anti-war, believing that the establishment was corrupt and needed to be destroyed...right down to the roots. Only then could things be rebuilt from the ground up. Perhaps, in a more egalitarian fashion?
Does that sound familiar to you? Can you think of any movement from the past few years that might apply to? How about "Occupy Wall St" and its many offspring? They were going to rebuild society, one squalid camp at a time! The solution to the disparity of income was for the poor to "eat the rich". If you wanted to live on land that didn't belong to you, well, possession is 9/10ths of the law! If there were rapes or sexual assaults, the neoanarchists of "Occupy" didn't want to involve established authority, so they formed loose knit bands of guards and vigilantes to try to keep order in the new World Order. They weren't very good at curbing theft, either, as people were surprised (stop laughing!) to find their laptops and smart phones mysteriously disappearing in the midst of such a grand egalitarian company of people! They planned for communal meals, sharing with everyone of the so called 99%. Well, everyone except the ordinary bums and self admitted freeloaders who started showing up for the free lunches. Then, somehow, the splendid egalitarianists (dare I say, "communists"?) awakened to the harsh light of reality and folded their tents. If you saw the photos of any of those camps when they finally "Moved On", though, you can see that they did a pretty darn good job of destroying those parks right down to the roots! Say what you will about those guys, but no one could poop on a cop car like they could!
However, there is another sense to the word radical. Yes, it can be applied to those who want to destroy everything down to the root in order to build something else in its place, but it can also carry with it the sense of foundational beliefs, getting down to basics as it were, getting down to the roots of a Constitutional government. Constitutional 'radicals' do not want to tear down or abandon the rule of law, as does the anarchist, but seek to conform the law to its founding document. To repair and rebuild the foundation, as it were, so that the structure will continue to stand for generations yet unborn.
The Constitution is the root and foundation of our Constitutional government. The peaceful, generally law abiding people of the Tea Party want to see the Constitution re-established as the foundation and cornerstone of our Republic. Returning the country to its Constitutional roots is considered radical by some.
The primary differences are in the means that each group will use to achieve the end they hope to achieve. The literal bomb throwers and anarchistic Molotov cocktail makers of the sixties have moved into government and academia. Not surprisingly, they are big fans of the ends justifying the means. The law abiding 'radicals' of the Tea Party, on the other hand, constrain themselves to lawful means. It may put them for a time at a disadvantage, but by no means counts them out.
Calling a conservative a 'radical' is not necessarily an insult. Calling a progressive a 'radical' is definitely not a compliment.
Original art work created for Proof Positive by John Cox
Cross posted at Proof Positive