Stupid is as stupid does
How Flight 93 thinking turned conservatives woke
It’s a stupid time to be a Democrat, but it’s stupider to be a Republican. Both parties have hauled their tent pegs in and left centrists out to perish in the elements. David Thornton wrote yesterday how the “new right wing liberals” have become rights-obsessed Karens, very much resembling the left’s own rent-seeking Very Online pundit class. This got me thinking.
To me, it’s is an obvious result of the right drinking the Flight 93 Election Kool-Aid.
The “fight fire with fire” potion reacts only one way: it burns everything to ashes. Personal liberty becomes libertinism. Classical liberty becomes the “greater good.” Privileges become rights, and rights become about power and censorship—or I should say “censureship.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger announced his retirement, after having the Illinois legislature gerrymander his district out of existence. But the performative theater of excommunication required the RNC’s Ronna McDaniel to censure him, thereby denying him Republican support. For what? I don’t know, because Kinzinger isn’t running for anything. The act was committed purely for the entertainment of the hooting and hollering Trumpists who demand fealty only to their goldilocks idol god.
I call this stupid cancel culture. When the left does cancel culture, it costs people jobs. Brendan Eich was forced to resign in 2014 because he donated $1,000 to a group opposed to California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage. The donation was made in 2008, but became public in 2012, after Prop 8 was overturned in court. It was exposed by the L.A. Times, which meticulously combed through Prop 8-supporting group donations, looking for whom they could smear or topple. The Very Online crowd got their scalp six years later from the mild-mannered engineer Eich.
Travis Kalanick, former CEO of Uber, was defenestrated after he got too cozy with Donald Trump. The New York Times covered it in June, 2017.
Earlier on Tuesday, five of Uber’s major investors demanded that the chief executive resign immediately. The investors included one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, the venture capital firm Benchmark, which has one of its partners, Bill Gurley, on Uber’s board. The investors made their demand for Mr. Kalanick to step down in a letter delivered to the chief executive while he was in Chicago, said the people with knowledge of the situation.
It’s interesting—if that’s the word—that Bill Gurley, the Compaq engineer turned CS First Boston-bred venture capitalist, who is super-cozy with Goldman Sachs, took no hits for weaponizing an ill-timed rant by Kalanick that was recorded by an Uber driver to blast the CEO off his throne. And also Gary Cohn, who hopped from Goldman to serve as director of Trump’s National Economic Council, landed just fine one day before the January 6th riot, as vice chairman of IBM. Certain Wall Street firms are protected by a very strong cancellation shield, let’s just say.
The left’s cancel culture is razor sharp. The new right’s version is about as sharp as the plastic sporks you get at KFC.
Democrats are cracking up over the young new left’s socialists with money continually pushing against the establishment. In Texas, Brooklyn-based and “Justice Democrats” (read: Bernie Bros)-backed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is campaigning against incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar, who has sat in Congress for the 26th District since 2005. Since 2020, she’s backed Jessica Cisneros, a 26-year old civil rights attorney. In 2022, Cisneros could well topple Cuellar, though the incumbent enjoys support from both Speaker Nancy Pelosi and DCCC czar Rep. Cheri Bustos.
The threat to centrist Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin, who backs Republican friends Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, is very real and growing. For Republicans, the stupid cancel culture of Trumpism is mostly run by old scamsters like Roger Stone.
Political whores like Sen. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who came up through the TEA Party in 2010, take advantage of the Trump phenomenon that has promoted young kooks with perfect hair and an inflated self-image of their own prowess with the opposite sex, such as Reps. Madison Cawthorne and Matt Gaetz to public office. The intelligent among Republican incumbents, once the Trump has faded from the marquee, will get off at the next exit to mainstream, while those who call Trump “daddy” will go straight off the unfinished bridge to nowhere.
This is all the result of a decision to sell voters after eight years of Barack Obama that Republicans can do things like the Democrats and not end up looking like Democrats. As Forrest Gump said, “stupid is as stupid does.” Democrats have political cancel culture, complete with a media apparatus capable of carrying it out, in their DNA. They do it naturally, without coaching. Cross the Very Online woke crowd at your own peril, for they can dig down to bedrock in your life and find something that will hang like a millstone around your neck.
Republicans look stupid and foolish trying to emulate Democrats. An example is surfing Gab for sharp political dialogue. It’s like shopping in one of those off-brand stores, where the names of products aren’t quite right, but look what you can buy for a dollar if you don’t care about looking stupid.
The entire premise of the Flight 93 Election is that what works for Democrats and liberals would also work for Republicans and conservatives. It presumes that being secure in principles, legal footing, and real world practice isn’t enough to hold off the woke hordes of progressive social engineers, who base their own plans and schemes alternately on utopian and Chicken Little scenarios they’ve cooked up out of thin air.
The view that conservatives can behave like heathens but not be heathens themselves has led Christians to make deals like the frog and the scorpion. Now Christians are stung, paralyzed in the river, while the scorpion drowns. Politically, conservatives and Republicans used to have something to believe in that people could agree with or disagree with. Now, they have Trump, who believes only in himself.
Or they can take the opposite position on whatever liberals are thinking. So if liberals want masks, be anti-mask. If liberals want vaccines, be anti-vaxx. If liberals want green energy, go for oil. If liberals want to educate kids on the history or racism in America, pretend there’s never been racism. Obviously, this is an intellectually bankrupt position, but it’s exactly what fighting fire with fire does.
I could go on for ten thousand words here. Conservatism is grounded in positions which should not move, at least not very much. Taking a conservative thesis and the liberal antithesis, and making a synthesis in a Hegelian dialectic is compromise, but it’s a compromise worth something because the conservative position is anchored in truth. If liberals always stretch their position but conservatives hold tight, naturally the culture moves left. But when conservatives abandon their own thesis, then they become just as unmoored as liberals. In fact, what happens is everything moves leftward much faster, because conservatives are no longer anchored to anything except opposing liberals, or acting “in the greater good.”
The problem with conservatives trying to social engineer the “greater good” is that we’re not good at it. And using the left’s weapons against the left only helps the left move the culture more leftward. We become what we do, as David noted. When the right acts like the left, trying to defeat the left, what happens is we all end up moving left.
It would have been better had we not tried it at all. But here we are.
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