The Right Wing
The Birchers say they are a political force to be reckoned with. They claim to have helped defeat such liberal senators as Indiana s Birch Bayh (the name is just a coincidence) and the late Frank Church, of Idaho (Robert L. Rose). Today, the John Birch Society is not really well known. I had heard of the John Birch Society but, until recently, never knew what they were about. In my political ideologies course the John Birch Society s name was mentioned by a student followed by laughter from the professor. I decided to do some research to find out who they were. The John Birch Society considers themselves an ultra-conservative organization with set goals and claim to have political influence. Realistically they should be labeled as reactionary because of their protection of the Constitution free of amendments, and their strong support and belief in our Founding Fathers. Many people like to label them right-wing extremists even though they welcome the participation of members from every walk of life, and all ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds.
Roy C. Macridis writes about the history of the John Birch Society:
Founded in 1958 by a candy manufacturer, Robert H. W. Welch, Jr. (who died in 1985), the John Birch Society has maintained that it exists to educate the public on the threat of communism. Its official ideology can be found in the John Birch Society Blue Book, and it should be noted that in contrast to other extremist organizations it does not espouse political violence.
The movement, named after a captain in World War II killed by the Chinese and seen as the first hero of the Cold War, opposes social and welfare legislation. Its followers consider social security as socialism and they call for the elimination of a graduated income tax. They claimed that Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower were Communists and conspired with Russia to deplete U.S. power. The John Birch Society disapproved of all efforts leading to an arms treaty with the Soviet Union and wanted the United States to withdraw its recognition of the USSR. In addition, they opposed the United Nations. Welch said that he wanted the country to move toward a militant form of Americanism.
Today the John Birch Society, claiming upwards of 20,000 members, is likely to take on certain issues such as term limits, the United Nations, and their ever fearing threat of Communism. To succeed in their stance on these issues they use literature distribution, petition campaigns, mass letter writing to officials, and seminars ( We are often asked… ). Along with this they also have a chain of volunteer operated American Opinion bookstores, and The New American biweekly magazine.
The John Birch Society s opposition to term limits may confuse some individuals because liberals are opposed to term limits and conservatives support them. This is one reason why I placed them in under the reactionary category of the political
if a representative has held a seat in Congress for 20+ years and term limits are
enacted, limiting a run for re-election down the road, his or her party with the same views politically will be elected back into that vacant seat. The reason for this is that the people in that district vote them in. Their position on issues haven t changed the past 20+ years. If they keep electing the same person back into Congress, why would they change position now. Don Fotheringham quotes Governor Morris about a term limit proposal, The ineligibility proposed by the clause as it stood tended to destroy the great motive to good behavior, the hope of being rewarded by a re-appointment. It was staying to him, make hay while the sun shines.
The backbone of this organization though is its anti-communism stand in which they take. Even though the Cold War seems to be over, the John Birch Society is quick to point out various conspiracies proving otherwise. Without communism there is no John Birch Society. The United Nations and the Council on Foreign Relations are viewed as the new evil empire , trying to cover up its communist ties. The fear of the John Birch Society is having one world army, one world currency, one world capital, etc., which takes away from our heritage. Robert L. Rose writes, They believe that a group of international conspirators, including some members of the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations, is bent on ruling the globe through a New World Order . This could be viewed as Communism. The John Birch Society believes that America should take care of America, and not really concern itself with the rest of the world.
John Kendall writes about the present change in the John Birch Society: Born in the Cold War days of the late 1950s, denounced by critics in the 1960s, then virtually ignored for years, the society is emerging from years of isolation and entering what it calls a new era of increased activity, visibility and leadership. Buoyed by a new chairman, Virginia industrialist A. Clifford Barker, 52, and what Birchers perceive as the nation s shift toward a renewed regard for patriotism, the free-market system and
individualism, the society is mounting a campaign for new members an increased
influence. Barker goes on to say that What we re hoping is that the conservative trend that started in the past few years can be made permanent,…
I feel their time has passed. Grasping onto the belief of several conspiracy s that, if true, would dramatically change the world as we know it. There are really no hard facts that the John Birch Society has come to prove anything. The supposed communist takeover in the year 2002 will pretty much prove one way or the other, most likely the other, if the John Birch Society is legitimate. With their headquarters in Appleton, Wisconsin, which is also the home of Joseph McCarthy and their seemingly conservative views, conspiracy is what sets them completely apart from a conservative.
Fotheringham, Don. Limit Government, Not Terms. The John Birch Society Bulletin.
Kendall, John. Birchers See Rising Tide for Society. Los Angeles Times 2 November 1985: I1+.
We are often asked… The John Birch Society.