“It’s time to clean house in America,” one influential right-wing activist wrote this week. And he’s not alone.
Chris Rufo is arguably the most important intellectual entrepreneur on the political right today. A senior fellow at the right-wing Manhattan Institute, he is nearly single-handedly responsible for the rise of critical race theory as a right-wing boogeyman — an issue that came to dominate the national political conversation during the Virginia gubernatorial election.
On Tuesday, Rufo elaborated a bit more on the project he has in mind: “It’s time to clean house in America: remove the attorney general, lay siege to the universities, abolish the teachers’ unions, and overturn the school boards,” he tweeted.
Confronted with unsavory parallels to militant fascist rhetoric against intellectuals, Rufo clarified that he was not calling for violence. “For the Godwin’s Law aficionados: remove the attorney general through resignation or impeachment, lay siege to the universities through cutting federal subsidies, abolish the teachers’ unions through legislation, and overturn school boards through winning elections,” he tweeted on Tuesday night.
Some of the clarifications are reassuring (there’s nothing wrong with contesting elections). But others, in particular the comments on universities and teachers unions, were disturbing. Rufo is calling for the use of law as a weapon to weaken or even eliminate the social bases of his opponents’ political power. It’s a vision of politics in which power is not shared democratically but wielded against one’s enemies.
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