Patrick Ruffini has another post up about rebuilding the Rightroots. (Here’s what I wrote on this. Great comments, by the way.) This is inbred blogging and boring as all hell to most of you, I know, but that’s why I blog. It’s my blog and I can whine if I want to. Anyway, in response, Rick Moran wrote a salient piece that’s worth reading. He says:
Ruffini seems to be saying that he wants bloggers who will shill for the cause. He appears to want bloggers who would subsume their independence and buy into the notion that the “primary purpose” of an individual’s blog is “to build political power for a cause.” That “cause” would be backing specific conservative candidates and issues.
One assumes this would be accomplished by adopting some of the online activist model created by the netroots – the most important in my opinion being the creation of online communities that I mention above. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this idea and I hope it is realized.
The problem, as Patrick mentions, is that many of us old mossbacks are stuck in 2003 and our blogging is unrelated to political activism, except in a roundabout way that presupposes our readers are forced to think about what we write and whose opinion might be altered because of the scintillating brilliance of our logic and reasoning.
I am not so full of myself that I actually believe my writing makes a difference. But it is mine, my own, and not beholden to a group, a party, or a cause. I suppose that means I will be left behind when this new conservative on line community begins to take shape. That will be my choice and I will harbor little bitterness towards those who choose another path.
Moran himself “shilled” for Fred Thompson (which is more than I did and I supported Thompson throughout the primaries), but ultimately wanted the freedom to say what he wanted. So far, so good. And then he says this:
There is a definite push back on the right these days against the “elites” who make their living inside the Washington-New York axis; where conservative media and commentators exist side by side with their liberal counterparts and it is believed – wrongly in my opinion – that criticism directed at conservatives in flyover country for their passionate embrace of Sarah Palin and the emphasis placed on social issues like abortion is an attack on “ordinary folk” and indicative of the elites’ desire to be accepted at liberal cocktail parties as well as a lack of ideological purity.
I have written that this smacks of a nascent anti-intellectualism (to go along with the anti-science notions pushed by some of the social cons) and that this is an argument as old as the republic itself (populists vs. elites). Questioning the conservative bona fides of Peggy Noonan or David Brooks – two conservatives who have done more to promote conservative ideas than all of their critics combined – doesn’t make sense in any other context except as an indication that many on the right prefer purges to debate and the guillotine to reasoned discussion.
Now, wait just one little minute. This writer has taken on Peggy Noonan and quoted her in enthusiastic agreement both. I have been critical of David Frum and Peggy Noonan and the other Insiders who I called the “smarty-pants set”, not because they were critical, but because, yes, I questioned the timing. My criticisms tacitly acknowledge their power to persuade the masses and their position at the top of the ideological heap. We don’t need the people who have “done more to promote conservative ideas”, to be the ones undermining their OWN candidate a week before the election. It is not party purity I seek. It’s a party, period. Performing autopsies on the still living tends to kill the patient not diagnose the problem. It IS the problem. And more, it reeks of self-preservation and/or promotion. “See, I’m so smart I predicted the implosion, while the true-believing rubes fixate on abortion and loading their duck blinds in their pick-em-ups.”
We are all on the same team. And it is frankly offensive to reduce the right-roots to anti-intellectual populists who look to create their own one, pure, party and country. Hells bells! That’s the Kos Kid’s territory. Remember the treatment of Joe Lieberman? Yeah, that’s some big tent, they have.
I’ll just speak for myself here, but I would like the Washington pundit class to show some self-discipline. We’re all maintaining it. Many on the Right have been holding their fire because they see an Obama presidency as a scary swing into one-party leftist rule.
Now, I fully respect those like Michelle Malkin who have beaten the conservative drum no matter who it irritates. Good for her. Her role is different than David Frum’s and Peggy Noonan’s and people in the party are smart enough to know it. It’s a stretch to accuse Malkin or Rush Limbaugh or Laura Ingrham as lacking intellectual acuity or promoting anti-intellectualism. And it’s wrong to attribute anti-intellectualism to 30 million Americans who listen and read these people. That’s foolishness. Those listeners and readers have money and spend it to support the Republican party. A little respect is due. Their voices matter, too.
And another thing: for all the power conservative Republicans wield, why has the Republican hierarchy governed like porky liberals? I’ll answer my own question: Because people in power want to stay in power. That powerful motivation makes buying support back home very attractive. And, the voters back home see the money and the favors and the taxes that they’re paying and figure I might as well get some, too. In addition to the power deal, many Republicans, the current president included, have embraced “compassionate” conservatism (a moniker that has irked me to no end because it implies that conservative policies are mean, but that’s another topic for another day) which may be better described as soft liberalism. And America should move further to the Left? It’s my view that people seek an alternative and a clear defining message. Even in these muddy, underfunded Republican waters, John McCain is doing better than expected.
Rick Moran believes that the Democrat ascendancy will pull Republicans left. I don’t know about that. Democrats haven’t succeeded by being Republicans-lite. The most liberal Senator to run for President Barack Obama could win the election, Congresswoman Pelosi (a San Francisco leftist) and the Barney Frank leadership are not exactly “pulled conservative” or even modestly moderate.
Anyway, this talk could go on and on. And, it should. But success won’t come from Republicans doing to each other what the media and parties have done to the country: falsely polarizing the electorate. Americans are far more sophisticated and nuanced than either the punditry or political class would have us believe. George Will is right about that. Most of American politics IS played between the 40 yard lines. Even still, the parties are defined by the end zones. Right now, Republicans are playing without a goal post.