August 16, 2018


Did I Join a Movement That Naturally Attracts Extremists and Kooks? (Matt Lewis, 08.15.18, Daily Beast)

Now, I'm not going to pretend that there aren't weird people on the left; there are (see Anthony Weiner). And I'm not going to say they don't have some horrifically stupid ideas (a new survey shows Dems prefer socialism to capitalism) I'm just saying that, in recent years, the balance has gotten out of whack.

Think of it this way: Even if you prefer the implementation of conservative public policy (as I do), on the micro level,  who would you trust alone to watch your children? Donald Trump? Rudy? Gorka? Or Barack Obama? I have to say, I'd trust Obama in a minute.

But it's not just the Trump administration that looks like a cast of supervillains. Take a good look at what has happened to the entertainment wing of the right. Consider the last decade of Dinesh D'Souza's life. Consider the career trajectory of Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Consider Alex Jones' insane conspiracy theories. And--just last week--consider Mark Levin's theory that Robert Mueller is a "greater threat" to America than Vladimir Putin--or the toxicity Laura Ingraham's recent rant about immigration.

Speaking of Ingraham, on Monday, a Morning Joe producer tweeted some remarks Ronald Reagan made in 1989 about immigration, in which Reagan says the U.S. leads the world because "we draw our people, our strength, from every country and every corner of the world." It was, quite simply, a reminder that the Gipper espoused the exact opposite message from the one Ingraham is peddling nightly on her Fox News show.

I grew up with (and signed on for) Reagan's version of conservatism. In recent years, I have become disenchanted--not with the intellectual philosophy of Edmund Burke or the governing philosophy of Ronald Reagan--but with what passes for conservatism today.

The 1980s, for a set of historical reasons, was a time when conservatism had real intellectual credibility. Not only was Reagan a decent man, his conservatism was (without having to market it as such) compassionate. I thought this was a culmination, that conservatism had outgrown the earlier extremism and kookiness that existed before I came of age. But what if it was an aberration?

In recent years, the worst trends seem to have disproportionately hit the American right. It's unclear why the right was more susceptible to forces that ultimately gave us Donald Trump's "legion of doom," but my guess is that conservatives felt like they had to create alternative media outlets to distribute their message. Along the way, those alternative media outlets (most famously, talk radio and Fox News), metastasized from alternate outlets into alternate realities. Liberals, still wedded to mainstream media outlets, are (for now) more moored to reality.

When your goal is to move the Overton Window to the Right in a conservative country you're trying to let the kooks in.

Posted by at August 16, 2018 4:12 AM