Friday, November 11, 2022


A quote from John Ganz is making the rounds:
In those nearly psychotic moments after election day in 2016, I thought the answer to Trump was to fully embrace dangerously corny levels of American liberal patriotism and Aaron-Sorkinism to create a kind of left-Reaganism.... That was basically what #Resistance liberalism turned out to be. In 2020, cringe won. In 2022, it has won again. It’s easy to roll ones one’s eyes at the “battle for the soul of America” stuff and assume voters care more about their pocketbooks, but there’s a good reason Biden kicked off his campaign in Charlotesville. Now waving the Bloody Shirt of January 6th apparently still works. And truly thank God for that. If this stuff had no appeal to voters and they lost any kind of patriotic hopes for the country, we’d be in really bad shape.
I think Ganz is right about "liberal patriotism." For years right-wingers have claimed a monopoly on patriotism, but one side has genuinely given up on democracy, American institutions, and the country itself, and it's their side, not ours.

This relates to something Ross Douthat wrote just before the election:
One of the master keys to understanding our era is seeing all the ways in which conservatives and progressives have traded attitudes and impulses. The populist right’s attitude toward American institutions has the flavor of the 1970s — skeptical, pessimistic, paranoid — while the mainstream, MSNBC-watching left has a strange new respect for the F.B.I. and C.I.A. The online right likes transgression for its own sake, while cultural progressivism dabbles in censorship and worries that the First Amendment goes too far. Trumpian conservatism flirts with postmodernism and channels Michel Foucault; its progressive rivals are institutionalist, moralistic, confident in official narratives and establishment credentials.
I don't agree with Douthat on the specifics here (it's the right that's banning library books) -- but yeah, we've become sort of conservative. We want to conserve some American institutions and structures. On the other side is this guy:

“When you look at these things like abortion, it’s popular,” Fuentes [said]. “And you can thank the Jewish media for that. Abortion is popular, sodomy is popular, being gay is popular, being a feminist is popular, sex out of wedlock is popular, contraceptives—it’s all popular. That’s not to say it’s good. That’s not to say I like that. Popular means that people support it, which they do. It sucks, and it is what it is, but that’s why we need a dictatorship. That’s unironically why we need to get rid of all that. We need to take control of the media or take control of the government and force the people to believe what we believe or force them to play by our rules and reshape the society.”
We need a dictatorship what Peter Thiel, Blake Masters, and their favorite political philosopher, Curtis Yarvin, believe. It's an evolution of the mindset that's driven the right-wing media and right-wing efforts to undermine democracy for years. In contrast to them, we're the conservatives and the patriots.

Ganz says that unironic expressions of liberal patriotism are "cringe." An older generation would have said "uncool." Who determines what's cool? People said to have cultural sophistication of some kind.

The right thinks all liberals are cultural sophisticates. The right smears us all as nose-in-the-air elitists who look down on the plainspoken right-wing Volk.

But many liberals are regular people. They're not dictators of cool. They respond to unironic talk about preserving America that sophisticates think is corny. They think you can be as decent American if you're non-white or gay or trans, if you're an immigrant seeking asylum, if you're pregnant and need an abortion, if you're underpaid at a crap job, if you have crushing student loans, if you think Elon Musk should be taxed more. They believe all this and they're normies. They're hard to distinguish from the Trumpers who, according to so many sophisticates, are the only true Americans.

The gay rights movement used to say, "We are everywhere." Well, liberals are everywhere, too. Who knew?

No comments: