I thought this section of today’s Jolt might seem a little inside-baseball, but a lot of readers metaphorically applauded it:
My Fellow Conservatives . . . It’s Time to End the Petty Vindictive Crap
Twice in recent weeks, I’ve watched somebody on the right screw over somebody else on the right for exceedingly petty and vindictive reasons.
You’ll have to forgive the lack of details; both cases involve off-the-record conversations. Put simply, the first involved someone leaking confidential, off-the-record e-mails of several conservative activists and writers to a reporter. The other involved someone publicizing the personal moral failings of a figure on the Right known primarily for Facebook postings.
These are the sorts of things that make you ask, “Why are we here?”
No, really . . . why be a conservative? Why be active in the cause of conservatism?
If you’re looking to get wealthy, there are a LOT of better career paths than conservative activism, conservative media, think-tank work, or working on the Hill or political campaigns, or any one of the multitude of roles in our collective effort to push the giant rock called America in a slightly more rightward direction.
It’s not the money that drives us, and it isn’t the warm reception everywhere we go. It’s just a given that the moment you say, “I’m a conservative,” or “I’m a Libertarian,” or “I’m a Republican,” a lot of Americans feel free to openly express loathing and contempt for you. It’s often jarring or upsetting to encounter that response, and a lot of perfectly reasonable people avoid talking about politics openly because they don’t want to deal with that knee-jerk demonization.
You don’t stand up for free-market economics, individual responsibility, or respect for tradition because you expect a lot of loud, public “attaboys.” Lord knows, nine times out of ten a Hollywood movie or television show is going to throw in a gratuitous “joke” to mock what you think. If you hold these views, you know you’re going to encounter a lot of hostility in the academic world. If you hold the wrong belief and get enough attention for it, you can find yourself driven out of a job at the company you founded — ask Brendan Eich. College professors will openly state that it is acceptable to hate you.
It’s not really rational to embrace a position that requires putting up with all that. We hold these beliefs and views and stand for them because we’re convinced that they’re right, and they’re necessary.
If you’re here — if you’re reading this — you’re here because you care. A lot of people might say you and I care too much. We look at the news and see a lot of problems getting worse. Economically, the traditional route to a happy, successful life — study hard, work hard, play by the rules — is deteriorating. Socially, we see far too many kids are growing up without a stable home, parents that love them, and the basic stability and security that provides them a foundation for happy, successful lives of their own. In foreign policy, the world beyond our borders seems to be spawning bloodthirsty armies capable of demonic evil, gleefully crucifying dissenters, kidnapping schoolgirls, and massacring those who stand in their way.
This is tough to face head on, and a lot of people prefer to avert their eyes. It’s a lot more fun, and easy, to think about the NFL, or Kim Kardashian, or pop music, or reality television. And we undoubtedly need the levity and fun of those things. But what separates us from those legendary low-information voters is that we notice the news that sounds like a ticking-time bomb, from the national debt to Vladimir Putin’s aggression to those spinning Iranian centrifuges to our runaway entitlement programs to our crappy schools failing kids who deserve so much better.
There’s nothing wrong with two people on the right disagreeing on what to do in the face of these problems. We ought to have disagreements, openly and clearly, and debate those differences with passion and vigor and clarity.
But if we’re going to get up every morning, wearing our cup for the inevitable below-the-belt assault from the Left, it would be nice if we could trust the self-professed conservative behind us. Argue with fervor, but live with sympathy and honored trust. We’re not a movement with a surplus of good people, free time, vibrant energy, and ample cheer. We can’t afford to lose those within our ranks, and when people don’t feel like their allies are any better than their foes, they’re tempted to give up the fight.
Why do we see this vindictiveness towards each other? Why are some of us going that extra mile just to screw somebody over? What’s the upside? “Boy, we’re really going to expose those rotten conservatives who have the audacity to chat over e-mail?” “I’ll show the whole world a woman’s most mortifying personal mistake?” What good does that do? How does that move the ball in the right direction? What do you get from doing something like that?
Clicks on a web site? Vengeance for some perceived past slight? A sense of power over others? Is it some sort of variation of the “rage-whining” described a few days ago, a furious politically driven form of lashing-out for its own sake?
If that’s what drives you . . . why are you here?