I’ve been as guilty as any of them. Eight years of Obama turned me into an angry conservative intent on slaying liberal dragons through tasteless methods and angry rants. I might have been uncomfortable with the “libtard” language and while I never bought into ridiculous notions like the birther movement, I never shut it down either.
There is no denying that I’ve often been in the wrong with the approach that my platform has allowed me and watching some of my counterparts in conservative media echo much of what I often partook now makes me cringe- angry at myself that I didn’t have the foresight to see what this would lead to.
My motivation was to stir and activate conservatives. And we did. But the result from outlets like talk radio, conservative talking heads on tv, and social media created a lot of ideological anger without offering real life governing solutions. And in doing so, we were setting ourselves up for a fall. Our audiences echoed us. Outraged and angry. Ready to set fire to the building but forgetting we still live there. Reacting to legitimate policy problems with nothing but anger based solely on ideology and ready to do anything to appease our emotions-even if it meant to cut off our nose to spite our face.
This inevitably paved the way for the new era of “conservatism.” One that felt way too comfortable partnering up with bigotry, misogyny, racism. Also, one that was heartrendingly accepting of moral relativism. We sold all virtuous fortitude to scratch an itch created by eight years of Obama on one side and hawkish conservative profiteers on the other hand. Profiteers who were “nobodies” without an outraged following.
Suddenly we were at a stand off. Those of us who hadn’t forgotten who we are and what we stand for drew a line and refused to go with the herd. The new Republican Golden Calf came in the form of a bloated, crude, and obvious (to us) conman intent on furthering his brand and feeding his narcissism. One that was ideally suited to partner with this new acrimonious political landscape fueled largely by rants and tirades and very little with realistic and effective governing.
Lines were drawn and for many of us we saw clearly for the first time what had become of the conservative industry and we knew we had to make changes. Personal changes in how we operated our individual platforms. Legitimate righteous indignation looking for conservative political solutions had been replaced with fury. And only fury.
Others saw floating coattails that they could attach themselves in their bids for more prestige, more power, more fame. They saw the problem and I can assure you from many personal conversations that most knew that this new direction was dangerous, unsubstantive, and quite frankly, embarrassing… but the need for attention, ratings, and popularity can be addictive and frightening. I’ve seen it destroy the integrity of people I once admired and deeply respected in conservative media circles.
And suddenly, the more crude, the more rude and obscene, the more shocking you were- the more applause you got, giving birth to some of the more famous pundit gutterbugs that we suffer from today. Characters like Milo and Tomi Lahren, and a reintroduction to what became the newer lower bred alter egos that are now Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity, to name a few.
Milo and Tomi, both shock jocks who have risen to fame with bitter, shallow rants that strike at the heart of an angry electorate. They have been successful in nailing some of our more emotional responses to certain issues and thus we allowed them to take over certain media platforms without understanding who they are and what they really stand for on pertinent issues like….oh, pedophilia and pederasty.
We mocked Obama for eight years for being a teleprompter president—and then these same people lauded a pretty young girl who brags she doesn’t read books, has been out of high school less time than I’ve owned my favorite pair of shoes, and can read an angry rant off of a… teleprompter, no less. And thus handing the heady responsibility of a conservative spokesperson over to a woman-child who …like, totally, is just speaking “her truth”… not THE truth, her truth. And that…like, totally, changes depending on the audience and what her applause meter is reading at the moment. She’s a fame climber. An opportunist who has used you, the conservative listeners who invested in her day after day as she constantly updated us on how many views her latest clip got, to climb for bigger and better mainstream audiences that do not include the cornerstones of constitutional conservative values.
We have lost the ability to have a reasonable discussion and respectful debate and have lowered our standards out of anger. Hissy fits do not change hearts and influence minds.
Stop turning these shock jocks into political celebrities. Stop putting them on pedestals and turning into fawning fan girls over their latest harangue. Demand more out of those who claim to speak on behalf of conservatism.
Let’s have a return to thoughtful and intelligent conservatism. One that we can be proud of and doesn’t consist entirely of bombastic tirades and blustering diatribes. Constitutional conservatism deserves a responsible deliberation – one that compels and inspires dialogue and long-term change that doesn’t snap back in angry response in four years. One that emboldens the thinkers instead of the reactors. One that offers a thoughtful alternative instead of a muttering “snowflake!” response. Believe it or not, many on the other side of the aisle are good people with a different viewpoint. And many times they’ve never even been exposed to what conservatives believe on a policy by policy viewpoint.
We’ve destroyed opportunities to effect conservative change in so many circles, not because we don’t have a valuable message that will resonate if delivered properly, but because we’ve given the mouthpieces over to some of the loudest and least thoughtful among us. Take them back. How about a little less Howard Stern and a lot more William Buckley?