Look, I now look at a whole lot of conservative stuff online, mostly because it’s currently far less delusional than what one finds on the left. That wasn’t true ten years ago. But I rarely see the kind of stuff Todd is talking about. It’s easy for me to avoid the likes of Gateway Pundit (though, again, that site may have become less reliably nutty). It’s easy to avoid substantially nutty stuff on the right. It’s less easy to avoid the NYT, the WaPo, and the rest.
None of this is supposed to exonerate the right for its biases. It’s just to note that (a) the left has them, too, (b) it currently has more of them, (c) it currently has crazier ones, and (d) it’s currently the mainstream, ergo the effects are more substantial. The right can’t get over its Benghazi obsession. But that shit pales in comparison to Russiagate. There’s no right-wing analog of climate apocalypticism–unless you want to count Christian apocalypticism, which is isolated to the conservative religious fringe. The latter is a joke; the former is the extremely consequential orthodoxy. Twenty years ago, the religious right was less fringy, and fought to get one of its pet theories–creationism–at least mentioned occasionally in schools. It was slapped down hard. Multiple leftist theories–climate hysteria, gender ideology in its myriad forms, multiculturalism, anti-liberal feminism, etc.–pervade education at all levels. In many cases, it’s impermissible to even question them. And we’re on a trajectory toward making questioning some of them illegal. We’re lagging behind other Western democracies in that respect, actually.
As David Warren says about the neoconservatives, “their perceived voyage to the Right was a steadiness as the waters passed them by.” And the waters, they certainly have been a-churning past us as we drift toward the falls. When even the author of the Millennial Bible isn’t safe from being widely attacked as a “bigot” for stating a basic biological truth in the most inoffensive way possible, one which would have been considered utterly uncontroversial a decade ago, it’s clear that something has gone terribly wrong, and if there’s any sane people left on the left, they’re keeping their heads down and mouths shut for now.
Naturally, partisans on both sides are convinced that their enemies are possessed of all the power and money as well as military-like precision and effectiveness in achieving their goals. Both sides are convinced that their own side is hopelessly weak, ineffectual, outnumbered, and divided against themselves. For years, I read left-wing bloggers bemoaning how trying to achieve their political goals was like herding cats. When I started reading more conservative voices, I found them telling the same story. As far as I’m concerned, those narratives cancel each other out, and all that’s left is arguing about the metrics. I’m not sure what could possibly serve as an objective standard of measurement to determine which team is winning the culture war and/or which team is crazier. Every individual sees himself as the lonely voice of reason, with the idiots to one side and the maniacs to the other. And yet, just like we can’t all be above average, some of us have got to be in with the idiots or the maniacs. Or — maybe — if we could calm down and take a deep breath, we’d find that we’re really not all that attached to our political opinions, let alone sure of them. We’re just addicted to self-righteousness and argument.
As for me, I reiterate what I’ve said for years. I think of myself as a neo-Taoist, steadfastly opposed to assholism in all its many guises. It hasn’t led me astray yet.