In the months leading up to his historic upset election on an anti-establishment, anti-globalism platform, more than a few leftist and establishment media organs claimed that Donald Trump was really spouting the ideas of The John Birch Society. Indeed, Trumpism is Bircherism, some commentators claimed.
The constitutionalist grassroots organization, which publishes this magazine and has chapters in all 50 states, has indeed been promoting many of the ideas and truths that Trump gave voice to during his unusual campaign. The purpose of the media’s attempt to link Trump with JBS was to demonize him, not give credit where credit was due. And so many of the articles and screeds linking Trump to JBS were also laced with factual inaccuracies and smears that have been discredited even in official investigations.
Among the examples was a piece from senior editor Jeet Heer in the ultra-far-left New Republic. “But with Trump triumphant, we have to see the Birch Society and its style of conspiracy-mongering in a new light,” Heer wrote in “Donald Trump’s United States of Conspiracy,” without bothering to refute any JBS or Trump claims. “Far from belonging merely to the lunatic fringe, the Birchers were important precursors to what is now the governing ideology of the Republican Party: Trumpism.”
“Bircherism is now, with Trump, flourishing in an entirely new way,” Heer continued between regurgitating easily discredited falsehoods about JBS. “Far from being drummed out of conservatism, it has become the dominant strain.”
Writing in the far-left establishment organ Salon, writer Daniel Denvir also claimed Trump was proof of a JBS takeover. “These sorts of conspiracies are not limited to immigration: the far right that has taken over the Republican Party incorporates a whole range of extreme theories rooted in the Cold War paranoia of the John Birch Society ... and the rantings of Alex Jones and his Infowars empire,” he wrote.
In the far-left establishment behemoth Huffington Post, self-styled “historian” Robert McElvaine also claimed Trump was proof that the JBS was winning. “The Trump candidacy is the culmination of the long campaign begun by McCarthyism and the John Birch Society in the 1950s and aimed at discrediting virtually every institution in the United States,” he wrote.
Of course, claims by leftists and the establishment voices that JBS was dominating the conservative movement and the Republican Party are not new. In 2011, for example, journalist Andrew Reinbach, writing in the Huffington Post, made a similar argument. “Most Americans don’t realize that the right wing’s main ideas have been pushed for 50 years by the John Birch Society (JBS), a group Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley Jr. once thought too extreme, but which has since become the intellectual seed bank of the right,” he wrote.
But are they right? Is Trump really the culmination of almost 60 years of JBS work to educate the American people? The way Trump spoke on the campaign trail did have strong echoes of JBS talking points — at least on many issues.
For example, Trump proclaimed that the United Nations was “not a friend to freedom” and “not a friend even to the United States of America.” The JBS has been working to Get the U.S. Out of the UN for more than 50 years — for exactly that reason. Trump also spoke regularly about a “cabal” seeking “global government” involving the Clintons, the establishment, the international banks, global special interests, and more. “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo,” Trump said, sounding a lot like JBS Founder Robert Welch, while vowing to put “America First.”
While Trump rarely made reference to the U.S. Constitution, and did take some positions at odds with those of JBS, he also soared in popularity by taking JBS stances on a wide range of issues. From blasting the Federal Reserve and its manipulation of the economy, to calling for a strong crackdown on illegal immigration, to vowing to rip up sovereignty-destroying trade deals such as NAFTA and reconsider globalist military schemes such as NATO, to promoting a gold standard, to supporting the 10th Amendment, to calling the man-made global-warming theory a “hoax,” Trump might as well have been reading from the JBS playbook of the last five decades.
Obviously, Trump did not create the movement or the popular mood that propelled his campaign to victory. Instead, Trump tapped into an increasingly aware electorate that is tired of the establishment and its anti-American agenda for a totalitarian “New World Order.” So, while the media almost certainly brought up the JBS to attack Trump, there can be little doubt that the organization played a major role in preparing the way for a successful Trump-style candidacy. Now, the JBS must work to ensure that Trump and Congress remain loyal to those promises that conform to their oath of office.