Garance Franke-Ruta has ignited a small firestorm with her hatchet-job on the right-wing blogosphere and specifically Red State’s Mike Krempasky (Note that I am a contributor to Red State as well, although to my knowledge I’ve never met Krempasky.)
Of course, Krempasky fired back with an article that exposed the spurious logic behind Franke-Ruta’s argument. He also revisits the subject here and fellow Red Stater Josh “Tacitus” Trevino does an excellent job of getting into the mind of a left-wing activist.
The concept that — gasp! — political bloggers might be — double gasp! — involved in politics should hardly be a surprise to anyone. Most bloggers who write about politics have at the very least an active interest in politics, and a good number of them are politically active. I was active in the College Republicans for many years, and have met many prominent political figures. It’s really not that hard for someone who’s basically a nobody politically speaking to gather a rather impressive array of contacts just by being active in a political organization. That doesn’t mean that there’s some kind of organized conspiracy afoot.
As Josh Trevino quite astutely notes:
The left itself, though, is lately seized of the idea of an impending fascism in American life and discourse. Concurrent with this is the notion that the right-wing controls everything — excepting their lonely bastions of online liberty, of course — not due to any merit or legitimate affinity on the part of the American people, but rather by dint of a nefarious combination of lies, chicanery, and superior organization. What is the matter with Kansas, anyway? Well: Kansas has been duped. Markos Moulitsas used to claim that if only fundraising was equalized, the level playing field would mean that the inherently superior pull of the left’s ideology would mean Democratic victory from sea to shining sea. One hasn’t seen that line resurrected since the Heinz fortune and the online obsessives failed to pull off a win last November.
The inbred self-righteousness — and the concurrent equation of political belief with personal virtue — means that there is a general unwillingness to admit the obvious: the right hasn’t dominated politics and political discourse in America since 1994 because of any conspiracy; it hasn’t done so because of superior organization; and it hasn’t done so because it has pulled off the remarkable feat of deceiving 51% of c.300 million Americans for over a decade. The right’s in charge because, well, folks like the right. They like what it does. They like what it stands for. It’s as simple as that. Yeah, we’ve got our think tanks. Yeah, we’ve got our magazines. Yeah, we’ve got our activist campaigns. Yeah, we’ve got our bloggers who know lots and lots of people — more on that in a moment. All the above, of course, is also true of the devotees of the Socialist Fourth International. And, well, the Democrats. What’s the difference? It’s the ideas, stupid.
All this idiocy about conspiratorial connections between bloggers, Karl Rove, Jeff Gannon, the Zeta Reticulan Grays, Major League Baseball, the Bavarian Illuminati, etc., all a form of partisan masturbation for Democrats. See, it’s not that they’re getting beaten because their ideas are becoming increasingly incoherent, it’s because of the conspiracy. Once you start seeing boogeymen in every corner it provides you an excuse for everything. Why John Kerry didn’t lose because he couldn’t articulate a clear position on anything — he lost because of them. Trevino’s next thoughts are particular important:
Franke-Ruta’s essay does little more than feed the self-righteous paranoia of the American left at a time when it needs it the least. Make no mistake: American politics needs a healthy opposition movement and a healthy two-party system. Keeps us honest, for one: who else is going to shame the GOP leadership into rediscovering small government? Okay, so that would be the libertarians — you get the picture. Ideological movements built upon a conspiratorial view of their enemies rapidly adopt the imagined worst characteristics of their enemies, even as they progressively abandon any meaningful critique of those enemies.
The “progressive” movement has become a parody of the things they claim to stand up against. The level of orthodoxy among the lefty blogosphere and intelligentsia is appalling — witness the way Peter Beinart is being shunned for the heresy of arguing that Democrats need to get serious on national security. Witness how the Kossacks revel of destroying Jeff Gannon, then decide that they need to dig up dirt on Alan Greenspan because he had the audacity of suggesting that private retirement accounts in Social Security might be a good thing. If ever there was a need for the left to have a “have you no decency?” moment it’s now.
However, it’s far easier to just slip into fantasy and let the evils of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy explain all. Sadly, that’s exactly what many members of the left have done over the last few years. If you’re trying to be relevant and attract people to your point of view, doing it through blind and spiteful attacks against anyone who disagrees with you is hardly the way of going about it. It is for this reason that no right-wing conspiracy, real or imagined, could do as good as job of destroying the left as they’re doing to themselves now.