In Defense of “Owning the Libs”
Earlier in the week, Dan authored a great piece titled “Own the Libs” and I felt that I could expand upon one concern that Dan touched on – that “owning the libs” would be counterproductive in the long term (a point which Nikki Haley has argued in the past).
To that, I’d point to how selective the Left is when it comes to “civility” (and of course, we’re not arguing that anyone should be uncivil in shooting down silly left-wing talking points and beliefs).
It is amusing to see Leftists, particularly those in the media, romanticizing the days of “civil” politics (in their mind: the pre-Trump era). The liberals in that camp are those who ushered heaps of praise on the late John McCain, and have even gone as far as to remember the “good ol days” of the Bush Presidency Those pundits must think the average viewer has no ability to store memory – because we all remember what they thought about Bush when he was the President – and McCain when he was running against Obama.
McCain in "gathering of extremists racists and anti-semites" http://twurl.nl/et4h8p -TheRealMcCain
— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) October 6, 2008
On the red carpet for McCain: Hitler, Satan and Jeffrey Dahmer. I swear, the pre-debate coverage on E! is TOTALLY AWESOME. -billbarol
— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) October 8, 2008
Yet, when McCain came out against Trump, the Post began treating him as if he were the last sane man on Earth.
Even a milquetoast Republican like Mitt Romney received all the generic charges of racism and sexism, with the allegation of sexism being predicated on Romney hiring “binders full” of women. Yes – their complaint was that Romney employed too many women (no wonder they hate Brett Kavanaugh).
Jonah Goldberg documented this phenomenon where it’s the “Republicans of the past” who are the reasonable ones spectacularly in a 2012 piece in the National Review titled “The Myth of the Good Conservative.” To reference just a few examples (the first is my own):
- In 2013, The Atlantic declared that the GOP is no longer the “party of Eisenhower and Reagan” – neither of who I imagine they’d want to have as President today. I find this especially ironic, given that it’s not uncommon to hear liberal pundits accuse the GOP of today wanting to take this country “back to the 1950s.” So, they fear going back to the 1950s – but love the Republican presiding over that decade? Interesting.
- “The Republican Party got into its time machine and took a giant leap back into the ’50s. The party left moderation and tolerance of dissent behind” reported the Washington Post’s Judy Mann — in July of 1980. I guess her favorite era of Republicanism was the 1920s?
- Within a year of William F. Buckley’s founding of National Review in 1955, liberal intellectuals insisted that the magazine’s biggest failure was its inability to be authentically conservative. The editor of Harper’s proclaimed the founding editors of NR to be “the very opposite of conservatives.”
The fact of the matter is that the Republican Party hasn’t changed ideologically since at least the 1980s (which is where the studies I’ll be drawing from tend to start their measurements). It’s the Left that has gone completely haywire.
The Economist measured the ideology of Democrat and Republican candidates since 1980 – and while Republicans have inched rightward, Democrats sprinted a mile to the left.
The Pew Research Center discovered much of the same when it comes to political polarization. According to their research, as recently as 1994 we lived in magical times, where a near-majority of Democrats agreed that government regulation is harmful, and the majority agreed that government spending is wasteful. A majority even opposed legal immigration, meaning even more opposed illegal immigration.
Note that the Economist analysis was of candidates, while this is of individuals.
As for the partisan hatred we see today, Democrat animosity towards Republicans pre-dates its reciprocation. The percentage of Democrats reporting that they “hate” the Republican Party began to surge in the early 2000s, while Republicans didn’t begin thinking the same until the Obama years.
To quote the headline from an article by the left-wing writer K.T. Nelson in VICE; “Owning People Online Really Is The Left’s Only Path to Victory.” I un-ironically agree, in that the same is true for the right. As she notes, “a staggeringly small portion of the 22-to-45-year-old demographic watches cable news, and in fact almost 50 percent of young people do not watch traditional TV at all, instead opting to get their content from online streaming services, social media, and the like.”
The political landscape, and how prospective voters obtain information, has changed in the information era. Let’s beat the libs at their own game.