This is politics as Aristotle understood it flipped on its head. It’s politics conducted as anti-politics. Instead of working to advance a vision of the common good, the radicals in effect deny there is a common good at all and actively seek to hack away at any government program or service that seeks to justify itself in collective or communal terms.

In place of those collective, public goods, the hard-liners insist there are only private goods pursued by private individuals. They may claim to be patriots, unapologetic champions of America exceptionalism. But their vision of the world precludes treating the United States of America as an entity with a shared, public good apart from the aggregate private goods of the 318 million American individuals who make up the country.

The philosophically precise term for this position is nominalism — a view that denies the reality of abstract concepts and collectivities (like “common” and “public”) and insists that the only real things are individuals.

In political terms, nominalists see collective action by government as justifiable only to the extent that it maximizes the freedom of individuals understood as disconnected social atoms. In their ideal America, there would be no public spaces (some, like Cruz, would even sell off the national parks and forests), only the most minimal public institutions, and very little social safety net beyond individual acts of charity.