There are doubtless plenty of news stories I could highlight in this week’s open thread, but we’re in a good place right now. The major news stories of the past week have already been covered in other posts and there’s no need to spend any more time on them today.
Instead, I’d like to make good use of the lull before the Olympics end and North Korea resumes missile tests or some other newsworthy event captures our attention. I think this is another good opportunity to talk about what we’re doing here and explain my editorial direction on RVS.
Depending on who you ask among our readers, I suspect that some lament that this blog is too right-wing based on the topics I choose to write about and the perspective from which I argue. Others believe that I’m naively trying to play nice with the other side and that it’s pointless. Still others have told me that entertaining a wide variety of viewpoints and engaging with people from all over the political spectrum and the world is probably like herding cats–an impossible and frustrating task. At least, I think that one or more of those is what many believe. I’m basing it off of recent feedback I’ve gotten both through comments and other channels.
For those times you wonder what I’m doing with every post and comment here on RVS, the short answer is, “I’m destroying my enemies”, and I’m doing it with a religious zeal.
This week, it occurred to me that I’ve never shared one of my core attitudes on political discourse. It’s something that I first read a few years and started forming my conception for what this blog should be long before we created it. Ready for it? It’s this.
Have you ever seen that one before? The first time I ever saw it was on a Facebook post my flaming liberal sister shared. I’ve always been interested in biographies on Lincoln and was surprised that I’d never encountered the quote before. It definitely sounded like something he would have said, but he probably didn’t. Regardless of who said it and when, the wisdom of it appeals to me and it influences the way I conduct myself during political discussions.
Now here’s the part where I’m going to risk losing readers. I hate to do it, but it’s right that I say it so there aren’t any questions about it. We can’t go any further until you realize this. Ready?
I do not regard liberals, progressives, Democrats, or socialists as my enemies. When I write a post, I’m not doing it with the idea that I’m going to crush their arguments and break their spirits. I’m not going to expose the fallacies of everything they believe in and convert them to my vision of True Conservatism. I’m not even going to insult them or hurt their feelings.
Aren’t I just the most enlightened man you’ve ever encountered? No, of course not. The opposite is true. I have tremendous hatred in my heart, you see. The neo-Nazis, Antifa, school shooters, etc all wish they were capable of wielding the ferocious hate that I hold. Sure, they’re hateful, but they don’t know what to do with it.
What I hate is the polarization and those who propagate it rather than people who simply hold and defend opinions that are different from my own. Polarization is destroying our society. It’s tearing us apart. It’s blinding us and preventing us from solving our real problems.
You doubt me? Regular people are at each other’s throats over gun control because of Parkland. We can’t discuss realistic solutions that might prevent potential perpetrators from carrying out massacres because one side would rather spend time eliminating rental car discounts for NRA members and the other side wants to form kindergarten teachers into a militia. Why on Earth are we fighting over each other over such stupid ideas? You might think that my proposed solutions are idiotic, but at least I’m offering suggestions that are grounded in an examination of what went wrong with Parkland and what would address those issues rather than howling for “MOAR GUNS.”
We should all be outraged that our elected leaders and that law enforcement officials failed and asking what they intend to do that matters. We should be demanding accountability. We should be (figuratively) hanging them from lamp-posts instead of rewarding them for saying stupid and divisive things. We’re not doing it because we’re so polarized that we waste our lives away on stupid arguments that make us feel better about our own stupid worldview that’s heavier on emotion than fact. Both sides do this, but polarization has made the lines more vivid, the voices louder. It’s also making us act like dumb, bad people.
I hate it. I hate what it’s done to us. I hate the paralysis it brings for problem-solving at every level and I hate knowing that it will lead to violence if we don’t reject it. I hate that so many people get rich and famous by selling it. Honestly, I probably agree with Dinesh D’Souza on most policy issues but I also think he’s a turd because of how he enriches himself through his notoriety as a polarizer who makes ignorant statements that harden perfectly reasonable progressives against us all.
No, my enemy is the polarized partisan fanatic who believes every drop of nonsense that’s peddled to him on social media, his or her preferred “news” network, and other echo chambers. Individually, they’re not that tough, but the cumulative effect of millions of them is utterly destructive. One day, I would like to be big enough to take on the people who sell that crap to them in the first place, but they’re out of my weight class.
What I have to settle with for now is destroying the polarized, one by one. But how? I already told you, you fool. I make them my friends. I create an environment in which differing opinions can exist without rancor or embarrassment. Then I write posts that lay out my arguments in a relatable way and above all else, I try to make it funny. I don’t care who you are. If I make you laugh even once per week, it’s a moral victory.
Anyone who shows up here to argue his or her beliefs in good faith will be embraced as a friend and entertained, not tarred-and-feathered. That’s the way it is, I’m serious. It’s only when you know I’m not a monster with an evil agenda that we can start to find common ground. That’s how I fight this war.
Does it work? I think so. I think I change more minds on issues than most “thought leaders” and “conservative leaders” do. People on the other side are at least willing to read what I have to say. I don’t want to prove them wrong; I want to make them laugh. Nobody cares what the sellouts have to say at CPAC, much less people who disagree with them, do they?
You want to know when I’ve destroyed you? It’s when you go to your political echo chamber and you see someone who is ostensibly on “your side” who says something you know is wrong because you’ve seen me explain why it’s wrong and you trust my analysis more than you trust that person who tells you comforting lies. I don’t know how often it happens and maybe it doesn’t happen to everybody who reads RVS, but I know it happens and it makes me feel triumphant.
Am I suffering from delusions of
adequacy grandeur? No. I’m comfortable claiming that the most hardcore Socialist would be willing to admit that I’ve at least made him look at a topic in a different way–even if I didn’t convince him of my argument–than he would if Ann Coulter was making the exact same argument. One is a polarizing bitch. The other is me, offering nothing but the idea that honest disagreement can exist between good people. Someone on the other side would be humiliated to admit when one of the Right-Wing Masters of Polarization is right. They don’t have to be when it’s me, nor do I when one of them tells me something that’s true even where it conflicts with my ideology.
Once you’re my friend, we’re no longer enemies by definition, and we can start to have a real dialogue. We can fight the real common enemy: polarization. We’re allies against the Forces of Stupid and we are unstoppable. It doesn’t mean we agree on every single issue or that we vote the same way. It just means that we’re nobody’s puppets and we accept that compromise is an important aspect of being a grown-up and getting things done.
That’s what is in my wicked, dark heart. If you’re a conservative or an Alt-Righter or whoever and you’re hanging around waiting for me to start smashing the collectivists and Leftists or whomever, you’re going to be disappointed.
Mind you, I’m not ignorant or naive about the Left and its beliefs or what would come if their preferred policy outcomes were realized. I think they’re generally wrong, which is why I’m on the Right. I also recognize that their own “thought leaders” teach them to troll and argue in a way that encourages polarization. I am battling it in the only way that works. I’m proving that we, the regular people, are not the problem.
Finally, I’m not doing it because I’m idealistic. Rather, I’m very cynical and I distrust the motives of people who tell me that people on the Left who I know to be honest and fair men and women are people I should be fighting.
I’m fighting a different war, the one I think matters most. I do not want you to stop reading RVS. I want you to stay here and let me destroy you. Then we destroy our enemies together. Will you help?