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March 24, 2015


My Facebook is pretty politics-free, and by design.  There are more appropriate venues for that type of foolishness (like this one).  But there is one friend whose posts attract the biggest flamewars imaginable on a daily basis.  I think I don't mute it just so I have at least a little window into the phenomenon.  But yesterday, after the whole Ted Cruz announcement, my friend wondered out loud why it is that the swarming movements, the ones with self-identity and litmus tests and general rancor (like say, the Tea Party) emerge from the left and not from the right in the United States?

Now the easiest answer is this: the right owns both herd mentality and assholery.  These are character traits of the conservative mindset, and no it's not fair at all but that's just the way it is.  (See also: why aren't conservatives funny?)  Mix the two up and you get an awful lot of stupid, plus also torches and pitchforks.  This is simple and reductive but I've never seen it disproven, only disagreed with.

But there's also the harder answer, and I don't know if the hard answer is one that I understand yet.  The right and the left are similar in that they both are pretty certain in the correctness of their ideology, but the right is different in that they also have a need to impose their will on everyone else, to validated in their correctness.  Hell, to remake the world in their own image.  And maybe it's this ambition that gets them to gel together, to become a cohesive force with discipline and fervor.  Of course I totally disagree with them in general, be they Movement Conservatives or Supply-Siders or Tea Party dingbats, but you have to give them credit: they get shit done.

Well, they don't get everything done — women can vote now, we have labor laws and civil rights laws and a social safety net — but when they set their minds to converting some daydream narrative into consensus, like say Welfare Moms In Cadillacs or Soft On Crime Technonerds, consensus doesn't really stand much of a chance.

Obviously this is a bigger topic, if not an over-arching theme, but hey, I never want to walk away from a chance to remind you that Ted Cruz looks like a shifty Joe McCarthy.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:34 AM