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SENTRY JOURNAL » Founding Fathers, Freedom, Liberty, Radicals » Free Radicals

Free Radicals

by RightHandMan

It’s become a slogan repeated ad infinitum, “the right wing/tea party/candidate is radical”. It’s supposed to scare you, conjure up images of someone much different from you, someone unstable. This definition, however, doesn’t exactly line up with the word’s historical definition. Let’s take a look.

1. a. a root part
b. a basic principle
2. a. root
b. a sound or letter belonging to a radical
3. one who is radical
4. free radical; a group of atoms bonded together that is considered an entity in various kinds of reactions or as a subunit of a larger molecule
5. a. a mathematical expression indicating a root by means of a radical sign
b. radical sign

There are a few different meanings here. Obviously the left is attempting to use definition #3 (one who is radical) in order to paint their opposition in a negative image (no pun intended). Definition number 3, however, relies upon the word’s definition. So, what is someone “who is radical”?

The answer is quite simple. A radical is a person who goes to the “radix”, otherwise known as the root of an issue (definitions #1 & #2). That doesn’t sound too bad. A radical is a person who focuses on the primary cause of any effect.

Interestingly, the antonym of “radical” is “moderate”. This can only be true when looking at the modern political definition where radicals can exist on opposite ends. The moderate, however, is the only constant opposite that is distance from all radical ideas. To clarify, think of a compass dial. North and south may be opposites, but north and west are not. Therefore, north and west wouldn’t be as far from one another, but they are always at an infinite distance from the middle bearing. The moderate, in an attempt to always be in the middle, is constantly distant from everything.

I don’t like this antonym and I think the premise needs to be redefined. If a radical is a person who looks to the root of an issue for answers, the opposite of that would be a person who does not – or more specifically, one who looks to the extremities for answers.

Extremities are funny things. They can cause confusion, even to the most cautious of observers. Imagine for a moment that you were a caterpillar on the end of a branch of an enormous tree. You were about to set up your cocoon because, from your point of view, the branch was sturdy enough to hold it. In reality, however, the trunk was diseased and rotten, the roots were dying, and a strong wind would topple the tree easily. Any of us could walk by the tree and conclude that this tree was no place to build a pupil casing because we, from our perspective, can see the radix or root of the problem (pun completely intended).

The core litmus within the tea party movement relates issues to the core philosophy of liberty. A politician might talk for hours about the necessity of corporate bailouts only to write off the concerns of “radicals” who question the practice’s threat to liberty. After politicians wrote up thousands of pages of legalities behind closed doors in order to “fix” the problems in the health care system, they mocked the “radicals” who considered it an overreach on personal freedom.

Well, they’re right, we are radicals. To play with puns for the last time, we’re free radicals, or more appropriately, freedom radicals. Freedom is the radix in our approach to any political debate. We may venture out to the branches, but we don’t lose our focus on what keeps the branches alive. Liberty is our root and without it everything else withers and eventually falls.

Our founders understood this approach. The entire purpose for creating this United States was to institute the principles of freedom not observed by tyrants abroad. It is note worthy to point out that the synonym of “radical” is “revolutionary”.

We’re only days away from the election. When you vote this year, are you voting for someone who is a radical?


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Filed under: Founding Fathers, Freedom, Liberty, Radicals

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  • John Carey October 26, 2010 at 4:55 AM

    I like the term freedom radicals. Very good post Right.

  • Steve Dennis October 26, 2010 at 4:56 AM

    Great post!

  • kingshamus October 26, 2010 at 7:53 AM

    Great post, indeed.

    I've said this for a while, but I think the American experiment is the one of the most radical forms of governance there is.

    All this socialism/corporatism/liberalism/statism junk is just old ideas wrapped up in new packaging. The notion of a free people living as they please and the government serving them is a unique and wonderful arrangement.

  • Reaganite Republican October 26, 2010 at 8:47 AM

    Good stuff John

    People often define you in ways that make them feel better about themselves… and/or serve their agenda

    Probably both in this case

  • October 26, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    Good stuff. I am most definitely a Free Radical.

  • Right Hand Man October 26, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    Thanks for the comments guys. Perhaps we, as free radicals, will be a cancer to this socialist push in America.

  • LD Jackson October 26, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    I suppose you guys will have to include me as a free radical. Great post, Right Hand Man.

  • Matt October 26, 2010 at 11:20 PM

    Good stuff, RHM! Are we starting a club? Cause I'm in!