Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Conservatives, Ranked By Infuriatingness

Someone on Twitter wrote the other day that journalists are missing a big story regarding just how furious the Democratic base is right now at Republicans and conservatives. We often talk about the angry protesting left as being the Jill Stein remnant or obscure hippie cranks (hence how they're often dismissed by saying "oh, if only you had voted!"); but the fact is that this anger is real and palpable amongst the run-of-the-mill, institutionally-oriented Democratic voter.

That includes me. There are a lot of types of conservatives. and I'm furious with just about all of them right now, because just about all of them are -- in their own special way -- abdicating basic duties to their country with scarcely a nod to the putative principles they endorse. That said, there are gradients. So, for your cathartic pleasure, here is how I rank the different types of conservatives -- from most to least infuriating.

(1) Racist Republicans. We can debate until we're blue in the face just what proportion of Republicans are racist, or whether any person who backs Donald Trump can claim to be "anti-racist" with a straight face. But no matter how that discussion shakes out, there are clearly conservatives right now who are unquestionable bigots (and incidentally, those conservatives who are aghast that anyone would call them a bigot for voting Donald Trump would have a lot more credibility if they acknowledged this obvious fact). Steve Bannon, Steve King, and Ann Coulter, to name a few, are more or less open White Supremacists, and as such are existential threats to the American creed of equality under the law. Donald Trump was someone everyone put in this category right up until he became the Republican standard-bearer ("Much of the conservative movement has spent the last two years slowly transitioning from "it's an outrageous slander to say that a racist cartoon character like Donald Trump represents the conservative movement" to "it's an outrageous slander to say that the American conservative movement is 'racist' or 'cartoonish' just because it adopted Donald Trump as its representative.").

Honestly, the best argument for keeping this group out of the #1 slot is that "angry" might not accurately capture my sentiments. I'm "angry" at people I harbor any expectation of good behavior from. I can't even spare anger towards these people. They're nothing but an enemy that must be crushed.

(2) The Conservative "Intelligentsia". One of the more depressing facts of motivated cognition is that it is more effective in persons who are smarter and/or factually informed. They more intellectually adroit you are, the easier it is to tie yourself into pretzels to justify the unjustifiable and to equate the non-equivalent. The conservative brain trust has and continues to expend their significant intellectual firepower on ever-more convoluted apologias for the movement they're a part of and the politics that they practiced. They know better, they're generally not in office so they face no electoral pressure or backlash -- they're just that devoted to selling out. There is a special promotion (call them slot #1.5) for the subset that spends 1% of their column blandly asserting that "this isn't to say I support Trump," then demands credit for it even though literally nothing else they do attempts to block or undermine his support in any significant way. Also, anybody who responds to the latest Trump outrage by wailing "but OBAMA!!!!!!" on social media is automatically an honorary member of this group. "Honorary" because most of those people could in no way be deemed part of any "intelligentsia" -- so we'll give them slot #2.5.

(3) MINOs. Moderates in name only. A commenter on Lawyers, Guns and Money described a moderate Republican Senator as one who "talks about voting against Republicans before voting with Republicans." Amen to that. Susan Collins has made her whole career on that sleight of hand -- supporting every GOP filibuster and obstruction and policy objective while occasionally being kind of angsty about it. Nobody this side of Paul Ryan has a reputation so far removed from her actual concrete voting record, and it's disgusting. She's voting nay on DeVos, though (even as she voted in her favor in committee). If Susan Collins thinks not approving a plagiarist as Secretary of Education makes up for years upon years of being a down-the-line GOP vote, she's got another thing coming.

(4) "I Can't Believe the Leopards Ate My Face!" "I voted for you, Mr. Trump -- how could you do the horrible thing that was exactly what you said you'd do if I voted for you?" Oh really? Turns out, taking Trump literally was taking him seriously. I'll still fight to get your healthcare back, let your family back into the country, preserve your control over your own body -- whatever hobbyhorse suddenly made you realize that "I just want to a send a message to Washington" isn't the best way of choosing the leader of the free world -- but if anyone deserves to experience the full brunt of right-wing pain it's this group.

(5) The Fallen Angels. At various points throughout the last election cycle (primary and general), various conservatives went out of their way to boldly declare that they would not allow Donald Trump to subvert the basic fabric of our democratic and constitutional structure, that they would provide oversight, that they would ask tough questions, that they would ensure that checks and balances would be a reality and not a dead letter. Some of them -- back when Trump's defeat seemed inevitable -- even indicated they might not vote for them. Virtually all of them have come crawling back into his corner, and have more or less backed him to a hilt ever since. Some check. This group would rank higher if I ever had more than a fleeting belief they'd actually follow through.

(6) The Elder Statesmen. Some of the greybeards in the Senate are very concerned with tradition. With comity. With rules. With bipartisan respect. They are gravely worried at the potential flouting of norms which kept government from being simply a partisan aff-- wait, some of those rules might interfere with the right-wing agenda? Poof -- away they go (what's the over/under on the survival of a Supreme Court filibuster if Democrats try it on Gorsuch? A week?)! Now, where were we? Oh, right: "Blocking an unquestionably qualified judicial nominee simply because one does not think the current President should fill the seat would violate a Senate tradition that has been the rule for 0 consecutive years!"

(7) The Rank-and-File. Foot soldiers, mostly. Still contemptible, but at least they were consistent. Well, except with respect to ethics in government. And federalism. And limited government. And the filibuster. And belief in objective facts about reality.

(8) The Honest Resistance. I can count this group maybe on one hand, but there are people who are genuinely appalled for genuinely conservative reasons at the direction Donald Trump is taking the country. What is essential about being a member of this group is that it takes responsibility for the direction of its own party. It's not the Democrats fault, it's not Obama's fault, it's not the fault of mean protesters or silly left-wing course syllabi. If Republicans are going off the rails, that's a Republican problem that demands that Republicans take ownership over fixing it. In the short term, that's going to mean taking some serious lumps and doing things that make it harder to win elections and get even legitimate conservative policies passed. I wish them the best of luck, but I'm highly dubious of their success.

(N/R) The ones who are now Democrats. See #8. Unless you're willing to own your party, GTFO of it.


Tzuzie said...


Tzuzie said...

Someone needs to illustrate this and print a poster.