Saturday, March 19, 2022


I'm sure you know Cleek's Law:
Today’s conservatism is the opposite of what liberals want today, updated daily.
The Atlantic's David French is probably not aware of this law, but he seems to have discovered it independently, although he insists that it's true only of some conservatives:
I want to share with you two remarkably similar numbers....

The first number is 57. That’s the percentage of Republicans who told Yahoo News/YouGov pollsters that the United States should take Ukraine’s side as it defends itself against Russian invasion (28 percent said the U.S. should back neither, and 5 percent said we should back Russia). By contrast, 76 percent of Democrats said the U.S. should back Ukraine.

The second number is 56. That’s the percentage of Republicans who told Kaiser Family Foundation researchers that they were vaccinated. For Democrats, it’s 92 percent. The partisan disparity is so profound that fully 61 percent of all unvaccinated adults are Republican.

Vaccines have nothing to do with Russia, and Russia has nothing to do with vaccines. So why are those two numbers so similar? The answer lies with a phenomenon that afflicts a substantial minority of the right, including a substantial minority of my neighbors. It’s a constant, intense contrarianism rooted in deep antipathy against perceived “elites” or against the “establishment” on the left or the right.

The overlap between various conspiracy theories is simply extraordinary. Find someone who believes Trump truly won the 2020 election, and the overlap with anti-masking activism (especially pre-vaccine) and vaccine skepticism is almost guaranteed. Find someone who believes in the basics of the QAnon conspiracy theory, and you’ll find an election conspiracist and likely a Ukraine skeptic.
French is clearly describing Cleekism here:
If you spend any time watching Tucker Carlson or following the rhetoric of popular far-right voices, such as Candace Owens, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and many, many others, you’ll see a consistent theme—they’ll find what they call “the narrative” (another word for the perceived conventional wisdom in the media or in the political establishment) and simply argue the opposite.

We saw the pattern throughout the pandemic. “The narrative” was that COVID was serious, and so right-wing figures minimized the virus, claiming that it was like the common cold, or that it was merely the flu, or that it would claim only 500 or 5,000 lives.
Some still think COVID is the flu, by the way:

“The narrative” claimed that masks could help limit the spread of the disease, so far-right figures mocked masks, sometimes even referring to them as “face diapers.”

Then as the narrative moved to full-throated support for vaccines, the same cohort held back. If “they” want me to take a vaccine, then something must be wrong.
But French, who lives in rural Tennessee, insists that most of his fellow conservatives don't see the world in a Cleekish way:
Living in the heart of red America, I’ve experienced a rough two-thirds, one-third political dynamic. Two-thirds of my neighbors are part of the coalition of the normal. One-third are full of profound antipathy. But the one-third easily makes two-thirds of the noise online or at the grassroots. They punch well above their numerical weight.

They’ve dominated and intimidated Republican politicians and Republican neighbors. They’ve ruled with fear. They’re so active online that they create the impression that they are the American right.

... if the GOP is going to turn the page, the 57 percent will need to exert their will. Their sanity and clarity are the key to a Republican recovery.
But if French is right and the majority of his party-mates are not contrarian extremists, then why do the contrarian extremists dominate Republican primaries? How have they "ruled with fear"? Were Republican voters really afraid to vote against Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, or Madison Cawthorn in their primaries in 2020, when they were largely unknown? What about Trump in 2016? Maybe your life as a Republican, or as a neighbor of fellow Republicans, would be ruined if you denounced Trump now, but what was the reason for fear six years ago?

I don't believe the right-wing edgelords rule by fear. I think many if not most members of "the coalition of the normal" share the edgelords' anger at liberals, RINOs, and other members of "the establishment," just not on every issue. Maybe they don't think Anthony Fauci runs bioweapons labs in Ukraine or the Chinese sent bamboo-paper ballots to swing states in order to help Democrats steal the 2020 election, but they think the election was stolen from them -- in fact, there's a "two-thirds, one-third political dynamic" among Republicans on the election, but believers in a Democratic steal are the two-thirds.

They believe Democrats deliberately leave our Southern border "open" (never mind all the arrests of border crossers) in order to fundamentally change America, and they're furious about critical race theory and transsexuals in women's sports -- French is pretty bad on trans people himself -- and about whatever else Fox commentators not named Tucker Carlson are denouncing this week, so they don't see any reason to oppose the Boeberts and Cawthorns and Greenes. "At least he fights" is what so many Republicans say about Trump, and I'm sure they say it about the farthest-right members of Congress as well.

So, no, they're never going to apply "sanity and clarity" to voting, because they'd rather elect a right-wing lunatic than someone they see as a RINO or, God forbid, a Democrat.

No comments: