For over four decades, writer, activist and historian Chip Berlet has been studying right-wing political movements, working many years as a senior analyst at Political Research Associates, a think tank based in Boston.
Berlet, with Matthew Lyons, co-wrote Right-Wing Populism: Too Close for Comfort, which traces right-wing politics in America back to the 1600s. Here, A.C. Thompson speaks with Berlet about that forces propelling President-elect Donald Trump’s ascendance, which many have portrayed as a total break from traditional American politics. As Berlet and Lyons, however, point out demagoguery, “demonization,” and apocalyptic thinking have often been a central part of political conflicts in America since the very beginning.
‘These are self-motivating armed people seeking to stop evil with guns,’ Berlet told Thompson.
In other words, “demonizing ‘others’ is nothing new in American politics.” What’s more, history shows, if people feel demoralized or pushed down economically, socially and/or politically, they will push back—with a “FU” vote, for instance.