Really Typical and Boring Extremism

Political SpectrumI was looking for images for a piece earlier today and I came upon an article apparently by Jay Reding (that’s the name of the site it’s on), The Destructive Politics Of Purity. Since the article included the graph at the left, I assumed he was one of those people who considered themselves independents. But that wasn’t the case. I looked through the site a bit and read the article. Mr Reding is as partisan a Republican as you are likely to find.

What he is getting at is that calling for purity in the 2008 Republican presidential nominee (John McCain) would only end in “four years of socialism” under Clinton or Obama. Actually, Clinton is a “Fabian socialist” and Obama is a “liberal crusader.” And he hypothesizes:

Does anyone think that conservatives will be welcome in a Clinton or an Obama White House? That people who believe in limited government and the rule of law will even get a voice at the table? That the Republicans will stop this country from taking a huge step farther down the road to serfdom? If so, then those people are hopelessly naive.

Nothing says “I’m a ideologically insulated true believer” like a good Hayek reference! But the truth is that conservatives were welcome in Obama’s White House. In fact, they were way too welcome. But you might think young Mr Reding would have been happy with Obama for reaching across the isle and peppering his White House with Republicans. Well, if he was, he never said anything.

In fact, he completely stopped blogging for 2009. He came back in 2010, but only to gloat about the coming Republican victory in November of that year. He had basically nothing to say about Obama. It was all horse race coverage. There was no Hayek. It was all, “Goooo team!” And that’s fine. But really: who cares?

The truth is that what insights are on the blog are straight out of Fox News and the rest of the right wing echo chamber. For example, he really thought that if Romney kept focused on the economy, he would win. But this is exactly the opposite of what Romney should have done. But knowing that would require not just listening to the editors of the Wall Street Journal, but looking at actual political science research like Lynn Vavreck’s The Message Matters.

The problem with most people on the right during 2012 was that they were so sure that the terrible economy (which they had worked so hard to cripple) would stop Obama from being re-elected. But as I thought everyone knew, the state of the economy is not what determines presidential elections; the trend of the economy does. And the economy has improved the entire time Obama has been in office. Romney needed to make the election about something other than the economy. He not only couldn’t do that; his advisers weren’t even smart enough to make him try.

I understand the desire to write about politics. But it’s important to have something to write. A lot of people ask me why I don’t write about this or that subject. And the reason is always the same: I don’t have anything to add to the conversation. But even when I am sleepwalking through the posts here, which I do sometimes (Reding writes an average of 5 posts a year; I do that per day), my outlook is something that doesn’t get voiced very much, even in the liberal world. If Reding were a libertarian, I could see it. It’s not like there aren’t already a bunch of libertarians spouting off, but at least they aren’t a major part of mainstream media. But just another conservative who thinks that Hillary Clinton is socialist? <i>Happy happy joy joy!</i>

What makes it all such a waste is that Mr Reding is a decent writer and clearly a smart man. But he is entirely typical: yet another upper-middle class man who can’t see beyond his own class. I’m sure that if you asked him, he’d tell you how hard he worked and that he earned everything he’s got. And I’m sure he’d be honest in saying that. But he’s also a poster boy for straight white male privilege. And I can’t help but think that he will never be able to see that.


I do feel a tiny bit bad about ragging on the young Republican, when all he has done is pollute the world with his limited thinking like so many others. But I did provide him with a link, which should more than compensate for any hurt feelings. And I welcome his criticism of my site or my humanity. I won’t read it, of course. But it would provide him his first post this year.

Update (21 August 2014 9:48 pm)

I just remembered what I meant to write rather than this rant. The image above perpetuates one of my most hated myths: independents are centrists. This is not true. In fact, independents are very often the most extreme people. I’ve known a lot of conservatives who won’t call themselves Republicans because they think the party is too liberal. Similarly (though less common in my experience), there are liberals who won’t call themselves Democrats because they think the party is too conservative. I agree with them, but I still call myself a Democrat.

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