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I’ve seen several diarists and commenters here refer to prominent state Republicans as “neoconservatives.” In fact, there is no reason whatsoever to append that title to Matt Blunt, Rex Sinquefeld, or any other top conservative politician or activist in Missouri. Just plain old “conservative” will do.

Neoconservativism refers to a specific strain of conservatism actually derived originally from the far left fringe. Michael Harrington (a St. Louis native) coined the term in the 1970s when dismissing ex-Trotskyists who backed aggressive US military action in their anti-Soviet zeal. Almost all of the leading neoconservatives today were either intellectually descended from ex-Trotskyists, i.e. Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Elliot Abrams, or literally descended, such as Bill Kristol and John Podhoretz. Most of them are rather moderate on domestic issues compared to traditional conservatives.

But today’s conservatives in Missouri don’t have that lineage, intellectual or otherwise. They stand for traditional conservative values like privatizing government, regressive taxation, and defunding public services like education and social insurance. I don’t really see the need to add a new name – neocon – when the old one – con – fits nicely.