Looking back on my thirty years of research about right-wing extremism in the United States, I offer several principles to guide how our field approaches conservative activism in these perilous times. First, I discuss how the causes of right-wing movements are different from other movements. Their goals center on preserving privileges that are slipping away, rather than fighting for privileges historically denied to constituents. This key difference forces us to reconsider the causal role of grievances in the emergence of collective action. Second, rightwing movements are about power. Power is most effective in maintaining dominance when it is not visible. Right-wing mobilization signals a failure to maintain dominance in ways that conceal exploitative relationships. Third, power devaluation theory provides guidance on specifying ways that threats and grievances lead to right-wing mobilization. Finally, the status component of Weber’s class-status-power trinity is especially relevant for understanding the rise of rightwing movements. My current research considers how socially constructed status hierarchies of race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, citizenship, and religion shape the contours of political divisions in American politics. Apropos of the last point, findings demonstrate the importance of status-preservation goals in structuring political behavior. In the near future it seems that such goals will continue to animate right-wing extremism and pose a threat to democratic governance and efforts to generate equality and a more peaceful world.

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