The Right List | America’s 50 Most Powerful

This list covers the most powerful men and women on the American political right. It is not exclusive to members/supporters of the Republican Party, and is simply defined as those who are deemed on the right.

Power in this case is defined by:

  1. Influence on legislative affairs and the conservative movement
  2. Visibility
  3. Contribution to the right

It is also in no way definitely ranked, but the most powerful will circle their way at the top.

  1. Donald Trump, President of the United States and former businessman. Along with Putin and Xi, Trump is the most powerful man in the entire world and is the most powerful in the Western hemisphere. Described as nationalist and protectionist in his agenda, Trump brought about alt-right resurgence after eight years of Democrats and eight years of Bush 43’s ‘compassionate conservatism.’ In his time thus far, Trump has brought about both economic and socially conservative policies through issues such as tax cuts. He is definitely on the right, but there are still those who argue he’s not a conservative. With 2020 looking lightly, Trump will be sitting pretty for a long time.
  2. Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States. Easily one of the most conservative men we’ve seen so high in office in a long time, Pence was picked by Trump to balance the ticket. A born-again-Christian whose deeply held views influence policy, Pence wasn’t well known outside of his native Indiana until he was picked as VP. Though the VP slot is often a less powerful one, his highly visible role and promotion of the religious right gives him power.
  3. Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House and 2012 VP Candidate. Second in the Presidential line of succession and still seen as a Presidential candidate for the future, Ryan is hated by the left. An Ayn Rand obsessive, Ryan oversees the House of Representatives (he represents Wisconsin) and acts as a senior GOP official. Though generally socially conservative, Ryan focuses on fiscal policy which he says harks back from the death of his father and the means his family was given to survive. He is very strong on supply-side economics. Ryan’s position as Representative is safe, but if the Dems take the House in the mid-terms, his position is a little more precarious.
  4. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader. The man responsible for overseeing the Republicans in the Senate, he is a skilled politician who is nevertheless divisive even on his own side. A very unpopular man (lowest home approval and general approval rating of any sitting Senator), McConnell is nevertheless steadfast in his promotion of conservatism. In his capacity as Majority Leader, he is the main GOP Congressional speaker (Senate is the upper chamber) and represents Republican legislative policy.
  5. John McCain, Senator and 2008 Republican Nominee. A thorn in the side of Trump, McCain is a tough, no-nonsense Neocon who is one of the ‘three amigos; in the senate.’ Often decried as a RINO by critics, the former POW is never one to hide his opinions. A voice of moderate conservatism in the Senate, not even brain cancer can stop the old man. Probably the biggest hawk in the place, McCain’s place as the neoconservative in the US is undisputed and he continues to push his views.
  6. Ted Cruz, Senator. One of the most hated men in Washington (now that is a difficult title to win); Cruz was the ultraconservative candidate in the 2016 election. Though he tactfully supported Trump when he had to, Cruz refuses to back down on his views. A leading voice for the evangelical vote outside of the White House, he is one of the most infamous Senators and famous examples of the GOP status quo. A CNN enemy, Cruz uses media as his weapon in fighting the left.
  7. Jeff Sessions, Attorney-General. Whilst his appointment was marred in controversy and rumours of tensions with the big guy, it seems that reports of his political demise have been greatly exaggerated. An extremely conservative man, Sessions has been a famous name for years. In his role as Attorney-General, Sessions has battled against illegal immigration, especially sanctuary cities, and is currently on a crusade against weed. For the latter, we can determine Sessions isn’t a member of the libertarian right. Never on the side lines, Sessions is probably the most important ultra conservative of the current day.
  8. Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, Secretary of Defense. The man, the myth, the legend, it is widely believed that Mattis is Trump’s favourite due to his history, personality and steel. Though he is technically an independent and has served the Obama government, he is here as he is a Cabinet member in a right-wing government. Due to the importance of security and military in conservative circles, it is no wonder that his job is so important and he is so visible. Whether it’s Russia or Syria, Mattis is making waves and is easily the most visible of the Cabinet behind the President, VP and maybe UN Ambassador.
  9. Nikki Haley, United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Haley is probably the most visible woman on the list and is unusual in being extra vocal in her role. A popular official amongst conservatives, especially women, Haley is steely in her role and has made a strong display in the UN. Her strong words against Russia, Iran and North Korea in the UN headquarters have been a show in conservative foreign policy. Not one of Trump’s devoted; Haley is still exporting the Trump word across the world. She is more outspoken and visible than most of the actual Cabinet, and many wonder why she turned down State.
  10. George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States. We expected a quiet time from Bush, but as a ‘Never Trump’ Republican, it seemed he was against it. Whilst Bush is still a prominent conservative- and is still very conservative in a lot of areas, his role as a Republican is shifting continuously. He did not vote for Trump, and neither did his wife, and he is a constant critic of the administration. Still, Bush is still somewhat of an elder statesman and continues to support his party in other ways.
  11. John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff. The Doug Stamper to Trump’s Frank Underwood, the Chief of Staff occupies a very important part in the hierarchy. The former Homeland Security chief, Kelly was one of the most right wing on immigration matters, a cheerleader for his boss’ controversial views. In his role, Kelly is Trump’s number 2 at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and is gatekeeper to the President, meaning he has a LOT of control. As of writing his position is precarious due to issues and fallouts, but as he is not yet out, he’s still the power behind the throne and will stay that way.
  12. Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State and former businessman. Easily the most important Cabinet role after VP, Tillerson is surprisingly quiet, especially when one compares him to Hillary Clinton and her tenure. Still, the man has power. Whilst under the radar, Tillerson has followed the tradition of globetrotting and has also met with many leaders, such as Prime Minister Modi and the always controversial President Erdoğan. Whilst he was not in the political arena before his confirmation, Tillerson is a strong Republican whose large donations definitely helped a lot of people.
  13. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Press Secretary. Daughter of evangelical hero Mike Huckabee, Sanders is the face of Executive Branch, especially in the daily White House Press Briefings. As the face, Sanders is powerful in that she communicates the wishes and plans of the President to an often hostile media- which makes it hard to stray from the messages. Like Haley, Ivanka, DeVos and others, she is one of the most powerful women of the right and is extremely prominent.
  14. Marco Rubio, Senator. Another one of the 2016 crew, Rubio was a rising star before he crashed and burned against the brighter stars. Like Cruz, he’s an evangelical darling with strong conservative views, but has more popularity. His profile has only grown since he dropped out of the race, with regular media appearances taking up his time. A prominent conservative supporter of immigration reform (Cuban parents); he is a member of the Gang of Eight. Recently, he’s been in the news after a confrontation with a student after the horrific Parkland shooting.
  15. Rand Paul, Senator. A one-man shut down machine, Rand Paul may not be as stubborn as his father, but the apple don’t fall far from the tree in this case. Popular amongst the libertarian right, but still called a ‘wacko bird’ by John McCain, Paul is an enemy of government and refuses to support its expansion. Still young by Washington standards, he was a doctor before entering politics. One of the biggest supporters of constitutional conservatism, Paul is a strong advocate of it at all times.
  16. John Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Head of the Judicial Branch of the United States, Robert is one powerful man. Whilst his job means he can’t be too partisan, he was chosen by Bush 43 and comes from a Republican field, his judicial philosophy tending to be conservative. As the Republicans control all fields of government, Roberts is the one leading the agenda in the judicial chamber. Considering how important the Supreme Court is and how their decisions can impact the United States, it is no surprise Roberts is on this list.
  17. Stephen Bannon, Former WH employee and co-founder of Breitbart. A part of the alt-right movement that really gave 2016 politics its kick, Bannon is especially controversial, especially after his promotion of failed Senate candidate Roy Moore. Breitbart, along with 4chan and some other groups, were instrumental in the birth of the alt-right, which many see as the precursor to Trump’s victory. Considering how critical many conservatives are, it shows how important Bannon was in carving it out as a movement.
  18. Ronna McDaniel, Chair of the RNC. The highest ranked woman in the Republican Party, and by extension, one of the highest ranked on the right, McDaniel is Romney’s niece. Considering the RNC is essentially the party machine, promoting policy, co-ordinating election efforts and fundraising, her being in charge means she has a lot to say. As American parties don’t have leaders, this means that McDaniel is the closest thing they have to that. McDaniel is the face of the biggest right-wing party, and her work encompasses all branches.
  19. Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President. The highest ranked woman on the Trump campaign, Conway has the distinction of being the first woman to run a successful Presidential campaign and the first to run a Republican one, a big feat. Though no stranger to controversy, Conway is an instrumental Trumplican female, even if she was an initial Cruz supporter. Considering nobody thought that Trump would win against the machine that is Hillary Clinton, it is a testament to Conway- especially since she was the third campaign manager.
  20. Mitt Romney, Former Governor and 2012 Republican nominee. Another thorn in Trump’s side, Romney is part of a political dynasty and is the uncle of Ronna Romney McDaniel. Presidential candidates never really go away, and whilst his wilderness years were quiet, Romney has come back with a fight. An architect of the ‘Never Trump’ movement (he didn’t vote for him, he voted Libertarian), he has softened slightly towards him but is still more a friend of the moderate and establishments. Having recently announced his candidacy for a seat in the Senate, representing Utah, he could grow even more powerful.
  21. Gary Johnson, Libertarian Presidential Candidate in 2012/2016. A voice on the non-Republican right, Johnson is often mocked, but is nevertheless a consequential voice. A former Republican governor, Johnson switched platforms in 2011 after realising his views were not compatible with the GOP at large. As there is such a lock on right wing politics by the Republicans, Johnson’s non-GOP voice provides change in commentary and an alternate perspective, important considering some right wing voters picked him over Trump.
  22. Lindsey Graham, Senator. One of McCain’s closest friends and a fellow ‘amigo,’ Graham is another influential Neocon voice, but is also known as being a fiercely independent senator willing to work with the Democrats. His work with the late Ted Kennedy on immigration reform was particularly controversial and caused a fire amongst the Tea Party. As a supporter of the armed forces and a strong military, Graham is not unusual, but his Neocon streak makes him notable. Graham ran in 2016, but dropped out before the primaries.
  23. Orrin Hatch, President pro tempore of the Senate. The longest serving Republican senator in US history and third in line in the presidential succession. A founder of the Federalist Society, Hatch is a deep conservative and Trump supporter. Though he was the one who recommended Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Hatch mainly supports conservative lawyers and is one of the biggest influencers in Supreme Court nominee hearings. Like Romney, Hatch is a Mormon and is often credited with bringing them into the Republican Party whilst they were still viewed with suspicion.
  24. Bill Kristol, Journalist. Founder of the conservative Weekly Standard, Kristol is best known for his journalism and involvement in conservative groups. Outside of journalism, Kristol essentially killed the long-awaited healthcare reform bill during the Clinton era and has been a prominent Neocon, especially in regards to Iraq. One of the biggest ‘Never Trump’ Republicans, Kristol is a constant critic of the President and even pushed for an alternative nominee to run as an independent.
  25. Ben Shapiro, Political Commentator and Journalist. Young by the standards of the list, Shapiro is a popular member of the youth right due to his strong debate skills and social media presence. Shapiro founded the conservative Daily Wire aged 31 and still works as his editor-in-chief. He exports the conservative measure around colleges, often doing the circuit to the protests of many on the left. He became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist at only 17, the age he started writing his first book. Shapiro is also prominently and proudly Jewish, at a time where many question the anti-Semitism apparent on the right. Like some on this list, he isn’t a Trump fan.
  26. Tomi Lahren, Politican Commentator and Host. Degradedly called ‘White Power Barbie’ by her detractors, Lahren is the second youngest on this list at 25. She is a YouTube sensation known for her short ‘final thoughts’ at the end of her segments, where she angrily discusses a certain topic with a Motormouth. An initial Marco Rubio supporter, Lahren has faced anger for her racism and also for her pro-choice views, which got her kicked off her job by Glenn Beck. Her justification for abortion is that she is a constitutional conservative and that she doesn’t think the government has any right to get involved. Currently, she works for Fox News.
  27. Susan Collins, Senator. A darling of the centrists, Collins is disliked by many Republicans for her soft views on gun control, abortion and gay rights. Still, she is one of the few federally elected Republicans in the North East so good for her. Known for bipartisan work and dealings with the Democrats, Lisa Murkowski is in good company. Most impressively, Collins has never missed a vote and has the second longest consecutive voting streak. She is often in the media due to her voting against her party and being a vocal anti-Trump Senator (she didn’t vote for him).
  28. Sarah Palin, Former Governor and 2008 VP Candidate. A Tea Partier’s wet dream in one Alaskan package, Palin is unforgettable. Though she isn’t actually up to all that much these days, Palin is still an influential conservative female voice and burst back into the spotlight after supporting Trump. In some cases, she still has the Midas touch and often helps gain support for candidates- such as when Nikki Haley received her endorsement and went from trailing last to winning the governorship of South Carolina. The Tea Party hasn’t lost its way yet and as one of its essential founders, Palin is still trumpeting its message.
  29. Hope Hicks, White House Communications Director. Voted recently by GQ as the second most powerful person in DC after Trump, you wouldn’t be the first not to have heard of Hicks. A former Ivanka Trump employee, Hicks is the President’s longest serving aide. Before politics, Hicks was a model and worked in the presidential campaign in press. At 29, she is a young White House Director of Communications. The sheer importance of that job, her close relationship with the boss and her believed immunity from the chopping block make her a rising star in DC.
  30. George H W Bush, 41st President of the United States. Limited today due to illness that has left him in a wheelchair, Bush still nevertheless remains an elder statesman. He is sadly often derided due to a less than perfect one term (though I personally think he did well), Bush’s reputation has softened and he is enjoying unprecedented appreciation. Even less of a Trump fan than his son, Bush and his wife Barbara crossed the aisle and voted for Hillary. Though he isn’t about much, he’s on this list because he is still a living former President.
  31. Ron Paul, Former Congressman. Nicknamed ‘Dr. No’ because of his strong principles and stubborn streak, Paul is the God of many a libertarian. Though most associated with the GOP, Paul has been part of other parties and as of 2018, is a Libertarian. Almost a legend, Paul’s willingness to literally vote against any bill has given him a reputation as a bit of a grumpy old man. He is THE constitutional conservative who passionately hates government, refusing to support anything that gives it more power. In Congress, he was the lone representative to vote against a National Archives exhibit on slavery due to fears it wasted taxpayers money. Like his son, he is a former medical worker.
  32. Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. A prominent black conservative, Thomas nearly never made it. Whilst his lack of support from certain groups probably didn’t do much, the accusations of sexual assault from his colleague Anita Hill did. After a fiery battle, Thomas was confirmed by the Senate by only four votes. Currently, he is the most conservative member of the Supreme Court and takes a textual approach. For ten years, he did not say a word during any oral arguments.
  33. Milo Yiannopoulos, Political Commentator. Though British, Yiannopoulos does most of his work in the US which makes him eligible for this. Best described as a professional provocateur due to his extremely polarising views, he is decried by many on the right. Permanently banned from Twitter, his presence on college campuses has most conservatives on edge. A prominent member of the alt-right, Yiannopoulos is a former member of Breitbart. Recent legal issues and apparent support for paedophilia has put him in some hot water.
  34. Ann Coulter, Political Commentator. Another controversial person, Coulter is the older version of Tomi Lahren. Rising to fame as a Clinton critic during the Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment hearings (she worked as a lawyer for Paula Jones); she is a trained lawyer and has written many books.  Coulter is described as a nationalist due to her views on immigration and Islam, but is also popular on the media circuit due to a strong personality.
  35. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader. Of no relation to Joe McCarthy, McCarthy is one of the top Republican brass and along with Ryan and McConnell, a senior legislative official. A sworn enemy of the environmental lobby and fairly strong conservative, he was an early Trump supporter and has a better relationship with him than people like Ryan do. McCarthy is a lot quieter than Ryan and McConnell, getting less media attention and spotlight. Still, he has an important job.
  36. Charlie Kirk, Activist. The youngest on the list at 24, Kirk is part of a new generation of politics. At eighteen, he founded Turning Point USA, a movement for young conservatives- especially at college level. TPU is growing on college campuses as a response to left wing dominance, but is controversial due to apparent racism in its ranks and a ‘Professor Watchlist.’ Kirk was the youngest speaker at the 2016 Republican National Convention, so he’s a definite one to watch.
  37. Condoleezza Rice, Former Secretary of State. Affectionately called ‘Condi,’ Rice is another strong female conservative. A schoolmate of hers was one of the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and she suffered racial discrimination growing up in the Jim Crow South. A specialist in foreign policy and security, Rice became the second female Secretary of State under the Bush 43 administration, where she became the most widely travelled. She hasn’t been overly vocal in retirement, but is still a widely respected figure in the party.
  38. Laura Ingraham, Media host and commentator. A member of the Reagan administration, Ingraham has a background in journalism. Always outspoken, Ingraham’s once extremely anti-LGBT views shifted upon seeing how AIDS affected her brother. Known widely as a nationalist and populist, Ingraham supports conservatism and the working class. A reason why she supports Reagan and Trump is because of their appeal to blue collar workers- with the rise of Reagan Democrats and rust belt supports respectively.
  39. Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to the President. Husband of Ivanka and son-in-law of the President, Kushner’s appointment raised concerns due to perceived nepotism. Still, Kushner is a big fish in the White House pond. His frequent jet setting is a result of deals and meetings set by him, with the Israel-Palestine conflict an area of interest for him. A former Democrat donor, Kushner’s conversion seems to be new. With his father-in-law’s ear, Kushner holds a lot of informal power in the White House, something that cannot be said about a lot of people.
  40. Stephen Miller, Senior Advisor to the President. The other Senior Advisor, Miller is another architect of the Trump brand. A conservative from a young age, Miller caused controversy with provocative statements in high school. A press secretary for arch conservative Michele Bachmann in an early life, Miller joined the Trump campaign early on and quickly rose up in the ranks. A populist in the Bannon mould, Miller helped set up Trump’s immigration policy, especially the Muslim majority country ban. He is known for his fiery media exchanges.
  41. Lisa Murkowski, Senator. How Murkowski got into her seat is a lesson in political games. Knowing she wouldn’t win the Republican nomination for the senate seat, she instead mounted a write-in campaign and managed to win, keeping her party loyalty. Whilst like Susan Collins she is known as a moderate, she is still very pro-gun (she is from Alaska after all), not totally pro-choice and has evolved views on gay rights. Along with Collins, she is known for voting against the party and the two were the only Republicans to vote against Betsy DeVos.
  42. Rudy Giuliani, Former Mayor of New York City. A well-respected mayor who got stuff done, Giuliani was a hero of post- 9/11 New York- he was given an honorary knighthood and was Time’s Person of the Year. A moderate conservative with more liberal views on illegal immigration and social issues, there was high hopes for him in the 2008 race but he ultimately failed. Since ’08, Giuliani has moved to the private sector and has stayed there, but is a cyber security advisor to Trump. Though not the most vocal, Giuliani still has some sway in the political world.
  43. John Kasich, Governor of Ohio. Often seen as the sane man against the colourful characters of the 2016 GOP race, Kasich is a current leading voice regarding moderate conservatism. More liberal on abortion than others, he had been criticised by other right-wingers for electing to explain Medicaid in Ohio (something that came under Obamacare). As he is currently in office, he is often in the news and makes regular media appearances. Kasich has consistently criticised Trump, refusing to support him and instead writing in John McCain.
  44. Bill O’Reilly, Commentator. One of Fox News’ biggest names, O’Reilly is the favoured politico for many an American conservative, just as Sally Kohn is for the American liberal. His show, The O’Reilly Factor, was one of the biggest on cable TV and he managed to get many famous political guests on. As of writing, O’Reilly is not on TV now due to his show and him getting dropped due to sexual harassment claims, but is still a very influential figure on the right due to his long lasting programme.
  45. Pat Buchanan, Commentator and Columnist. Founder of the magazine The American Conservative, Buchanan is more than just a one-trick pony and has done many things. One of the most famous in the paleoconservative movement- he despises imperialism, foreign intervention and multiculturalism, with criticisms of the Neocon often coming up. Deeply traditional, Buchanan opposes the promotion of homosexuality, feminism and pornography, all whilst supporting state-sanctioned prayer in school. He ran against incumbent President Bush in 1992, an event that does not happen often in modern day, later running in 1996.
  46. Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the NRA. In a time where mass shootings, especially in schools, are becoming sadly more and more common, the NRA and its affect on politics have become more and more in the public eye. As one of the highest ranking members, the views of LaPierre are ever the more influential. At the 2018 CPAC, LaPierre criticised the ‘elites and socialists’ as being the ones who wanted to get rid of the constitutional rights of Americans by getting rid of guns. He had been Executive VP since 1991 and whilst he has supported Democrats in the past, he tends to campaign against them and his appearance at CPAC, as well as his words there, indicate his position.
  47. Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the House and author. Infamous during the 90s as Speaker of the House, Gingrich is primarily known in conservative circles for his ‘Contract with America’ and his deep opposition to President Clinton. Gingrich also writes many books, mainly non-fiction but also historical. A prominent Trump supporter, he makes use of media and has active social media to keep supporters up to date. His wife, Callista, is the US Ambassador to the Holy See and she often appears with him.
  48. Sean Hannity, TV host and commentator. Since the fall of O’Reilly, Hannity is arguably the most important voice on the right wing media. Like O’Reilly, he runs his own cable show on Fox News-‘Hannity.’ His radio show is nearly thirty years old and is also one of the most listened to in the United States. Unlike others, Hannity has been an early Trump supporter and is a constant media outlet for the man. He is controversial for peddling the Seth Rice conspiracy amongst others.
  49. Rush Limbaugh, Broadcaster and Commentator. Host of The Rush Limbaugh Show, it is entering its 30th year and has made Limbaugh one of the richest, successful and important media hosts in the USA. Criticised as a misogynist by many on the left and even on the right- Limbaugh popularised the term ‘feminazi’ and got into trouble for calling birth control activist Sandra Fluke ‘a slut,’ Limbaugh is still successful. Part of his appeal is as a shock jock and it has been questioned as to the sincerity of his more controversial statements. He has been successful in having two incumbent Presidents- both Bushes- to appear.
  50. Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy and Former Governor of Texas. In charge of the Lone Star State for nearly fifteen years, Perry succeeded George W. Bush in the role. The longest serving Texas governor and the second longest governor in US history. Though pretty quiet in his Cabinet role, his time has made him one of the most well-known governors in the country, as well as him running for President twice. Deeply conservative on LGBT rights and abortion, Perry holds the record for having overseen the most executions as a governor- hitting 250 in 2011, four years before he finished.

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