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Figure of speech

Question of the day: where the heck did the popular term "wingnut" come from? I know what it means -- er, correction: I know what it refers to, but I don't know what it means, and I don't know where it came from. I had never heard the term before in the political context, and then a year or so ago, maybe two years, it suddenly became ubiquitous. What's up with that?


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Comments (4)

I'm guessing it's a contraction of "left-wing" or "right-wing" with "nut"? As in someone who is supposedly rabidly out on one of the wings...

Or perhaps it just sounds better than just plain "nut".

I originally thought it was such a contraction, also. But it seems to be used exclusively by the left to refer to the right. If it were such a contraction, couldn't it be used equally by either side?

Well, I've seen Lyndon LaRouche called a "wingnut." Just google. But he's more a "nut" than a "winger."

But Nader has been called a wingnut. Google it.

And Sharpton.

I'm sure there are others.

Why is it used more on the left about the right?

Well, US public policy has drifted rightward in the US in the past 20 years or so. Even the Demo President was a "New" Dem who embraced capital punishment, defense spending (his SecDefs were Dem Hawks/Wonks or Republican)

It's much harder for a Democrat to be a "wingnut" because there just aren't that many "left wing" Democrats in office anymore.

Look at the mainstream guys running for President. Dean is portrayed as a lefty and he's made balancing the budget a big part of his agenda. Much of the same could be said of the others. Most of the remaining ones voted for the Iraq war.

When the left is in power, they have more visible wingnuts. See: the 60s.

I googled just Nader and wingnut and had hits right at the top of the page.

Leftward drift eh?

Government spending...the CBO says "government outlays" have gone from about 23% of the economy to about 18% in roughly the last 20 years. See:


Nondiscretionary defense has been slashed one-third and there's been a doubling of debt interest. That's Reagan and W, mostly, but Clinton was no leftist by my standards.

To the left, the latest "entitlement" seemed a lot more like fancy corporate welfare (which much of the non-libertarian right has long supported) than social welfare. That's why they opposed it.

Abortion rights were created in what, '73, and have been limited in various ways since (the latest was the "partial birth" bill).

The CDC also says abortion rates have declined about 20% since 1980. Clinton famously said it should be legal, safe and rare. Not the standard left line.

Capital punishment was zeroed out in the '70s, then came back with Gary Gilmore...through to W. Now, nearly 900 have been killed since 1976.

Gay rights -- Isn't the President of the US hinting at a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage? Not a single gay couple in the US is legally married, right?

The country is undoubtedly to the right of where it was in 1980.

David, that doesn't necessarily mean it is becoming more libertarian.

The right that the left fears curtails civil liberties, hands out cash to friendly businesses, and engages in dubious international wars.

A lot of libertarians share those concerns.


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