Too Weird To Win?

The problem with living in a bubble…

One benefits of a truly mass media is that it exposes its audience to the larger popular culture. Today, it’s easy to occupy an information bubble occupied by people who share your particular  beliefs.

A few days ago, I shared some of the positions of the New Right’s “intellectuals.” Those positions weren’t just extreme; as a recent essay from The New Republic characterized them, they were also weird. The essay argued that when these people run for office, they tend to be too weird to win elections. (Herschel Walker was a different kind of weird, but the observation still holds.)

The right is getting weirder. That might begin to cost Republicans elections in years to come and undermine their own appeals to American patriotism in a way policy extremism alone could not. American voters see the political parties as equally extreme in policy, ignoring evidence that Republicans have moved right much faster than Democrats have moved left. However, a party fixated on genital sunning, seed oils, Catholic integralism, European aristocracy, and occultism can alienate voters not because of its positions but because of how it presents them—and itself. Among the right’s intellectual avant garde and media elites, there is a growing adoption of habits, aesthetics, and views that are not only out of step with America’s but are deliberately cultivated in opposition to a national majority that the new right holds in contempt.

This is a different—though parallel—phenomenon from the often raucous, conspiratorial personality cult that surrounds Donald Trump and his devoted base. This new turn has predominantly manifested among the upper-class and college-educated right wing. Indeed, as Democratic strategist David Shor noted, as those with college degrees become more left leaning, the remaining conservatives have gotten “really very weird.” In this well-off cohort, there exists a mirror of the excesses often attributed to the college-educated left, fairly or unfairly: an aversion to mainstream values and an extreme militancy.

This segment of the Right has evidently abandoned American exceptionalism, along with the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Their “disgust with equitable citizenship, personal liberty, and democratic self-governance” are common threads running through their pronouncements.

These New Right thinkers consider America’s philosophical foundations not just mistaken, but immoral; they express “a new fascination with medieval Catholicism and imported European extremisms.” According to the essay, this faction of the Right

has shed its American and conservative roots and seeks a radical shift—a national “refounding.” Indeed, leading right-wing intellectuals like John Daniel Davidson have said that “the conservative project has failed” and that people like them constitute the educated vanguard of a “revolutionary moment.”

Whatever else one might say about this rejection of Americana–whatever other danger these people may pose to civic peace–  this is not a politically salable approach. Research confirms that nine out of 10 Americans believe being “truly American” involves respecting “American political institutions and laws.”

Americans consistently affirm that liberty, equality, and progress—the core values of republicanism and the Enlightenment—are ones they try to live by. While the content and meaning of those values have always been contested terrain, opposing them is a nonstarter.

In the midterms, candidates embracing these positions did not do well, even in states where an R next to one’s name virtually guarantees a win.

John Gibbs, a Republican nominee for a Michigan swing seat, founded a think tank that argued for overturning the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The country, he said, had “suffered” from women’s suffrage. He narrowly lost his bid. Blake Masters and J.D. Vance—two Republican candidates for Senate funded in part by tech billionaire and new-right linchpin Peter Thiel—have embraced new-right ideas and actively courted the “weird right.” Vance has questioned whether women should leave violent marriages; Masters has praised domestic terrorist Theodore Kaczynski’s infamous manifesto, argued against legal access to contraception, and openly said that democracy is a smokescreen for the masses “stealing certain kinds of goods and redistributing them as they see fit.” (Americans on balance like democracy; legal contraception is almost universally popular; and Kaczynski’s unpopularity is so widely assumed that pollsters rarely ask about him.) Masters, perhaps unsurprisingly, lost his bid to unseat Mark Kelly, and Vance badly underperformed in his blood-red home state.

The claims that characterize this slice of the body politic are increasingly bizarre: the essay points to assertions that meat substitutes will turn men into women. (One Texas Representative has declared that a man who eats cultured meat, “will turn into a SOCIALIST DEMOCRAT.”)

At the base of all this is misogyny. (Perhaps these guys all  have small winkies…)The New Right wants American women to be subservient to men and dependent upon male breadwinners.

Sorry, weirdos, but that horse has left the barn…


  1. This commonly used phrase, ” information bubble,” must be looked at more carefully to understand what is weird and not entirely.

    The land controlled by Big Tech (oligarchy) uses your data to control what you see online. Even searches. Your bubble is meant to “enhance user experiences.”

    “Intellectuals” like to shine superior over “deplorables” because of their bubble preferences. However, we all live in self-defined bubbles. If you understand anything about Big Tech, you have to understand this. If confused, head over to the #TwitterFiles that independent journalists Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss cut through.

    Twitter is just an example of how Big Tech firms operate. So, as a leader educated about oppression, I always ask, “Are the deplorables at fault or those who oppress the masses for gain?”

    I prefer Paulo Freire from Pedagogy of the Oppressed:

    “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. ”

    I believe MLK deciphered Friere before being assassinated. Luckily, I don’t have his following.

  2. It was just shown on CNN that Senator Sinema (AZ) is leaving the Ds to be an Independent! Great, bye Felicia. She couldn’t win re-election anyway. All of us AZ D voters hate her, for good reasons. I’m so surprised she didn’t go R!

  3. regarding Sinema changing her D to an I:
    I fear that the self serving Joe Manchin could go to R at any time if it serves him.

  4. I reached a conclusion about where to find facts vs. far right weirdness after watching Michael Steele as RNC Chairman who seemed unaware of what was going on within his party. He had little to say about the off-the-wall goings on with Trump & his presidential campaign; remember the Clinton/Trump debates…has there ever been anything to compare with that SNL show? Michael Steele left his position as RNC Chair and was suddenly enlightened as to the realities of the unreality and weirdness of Republicans. I firmly believe he had too much respect for his position as Chairman to speak the truth about the party and unlike DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s disrespect for her position who cost Bernie Sanders’ his nomination, he is a source of fact vs. fiction in the “new” Republican party moving us back to mid-19th Century standards. Michael Steele is a frequent speaker on MSNBC, and on rare occasions tries to explain what can be explained and doesn’t mince words about the weirdness and unexplainable Trump White Nationalist MAGA clown show and demolition derby within our government today. What lies ahead for us in the House after January 1st is yet to be known; they have no one qualified or trusted to be named Speaker of the House but will name one of their personal weirdos.

    “The claims that characterize this slice of the body politic are increasingly bizarre…”

  5. The news that Senator Sinema is switching from being a Democrat to an Independent is bad news for Chuck Schumer, because with a 50 (R), 49 (R), and 1(I) breakdown, Joe Manchin in back in the driver’s seat. If he and Sinema vote with the Republicans, Biden and Schumer will be emasculated.

  6. In 2016, I began to try engaging with a variety of sources, per suggestion of former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, to understand other viewpoints.
    I followed Reason Mag and learned that Libertarians were fine if poor students starved bc ‘it wasn’t their responsibility to feed someone else’s kids.’
    I read pieces from The Hill, Christianity Today, and even Focus on the Family. It tried engaging Sen. Mike Braun and the late Rep Walorski.
    In the end I learned that most of those on the Right were selfish, greedy and liked being in control. There was no ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ attitude from any of them and personal accountability was out the window. There was no willingness to work together to solve problems with other members for the betterment of our community.
    I also discovered cruelty was absolutely the point as these ‘Christians’ were gleefully happy at other’s bad luck.
    Listening to others is fine up to a point but interacting with those unkind phonies was dangerous to my mental health.
    It’s enough to know they’re out there but I want nothing to do with them any more.
    I’m a healthier woman in my bubble.

  7. Let’s just wait to see who Senator Sinema decides to caucus with. If she wants a good committee assignment, she’ll caucus with the Dems. If she really believed what she supported as a member of the Green Party, she’ll caucus with the Dems. She is now the third Independent in the Senate, with Bernie Sanders and Angus King.

    BTW, I don’t understand why people still seem to have such a problem with the fact that the DNC preferred to have a DEMOCRAT as their Presidential candidate in 2016. Don’t get me wrong, I like Bernie. I always have, but wouldn’t you want a member of your family representing your family?

    Thirteen Circuits/Thirteen Justices

  8. When children are reared in a culture of religion, especially religious fundamentalism, they are taught to discount evidence in favor of faith. When belief in the supernatural and magical thinking are seen to be respected, even required, by the adults on whom they are utterly dependent, is it any wonder that are likely to be open to “weirdness”?
    Gullibility and absolutism are the opposite of critical thinking. It seems to be much easier to train children to be gullible than to train them to think critically.

  9. Right wing intellectuals? Really? Where? What? These foam-flecked embarrassments are intellectual dwarfs with NO idea about what they’re doing. Whatever right-wing bubble you choose to examine, you’ll see the same mindlessness without facts and disjointed philosophies without basis.

    Sinema becoming an independent won’t change the Senate’s behavior. She and Manchin are basically Republicans in silk suits and lying eyes. She’s just doing what she’s always done: be a self-serving publicity hog. It’s all theater and all stupid.

  10. Thank you, Peggy, for voicing my thoughts about the DNC & Bernie. I never did understand all the outrage for precisely the reasons you stated. For the record, I, too like Bernie!

  11. The “weirdos” as part of the “intelligent” right, who could be characterized as an elite, are reminiscent
    of the intelligences that Hannah Arendt writes about who were attracted to the anarchistic flavor of
    both the Nazis, And the Communists, between the World Wars. They were all for the destruction
    of the bourgeoisie related values, almost just for the fun of it.
    Today, we have the likes of Steve Bannon, an avowed anarchist, feeding junk to those willing to
    swallow it. He has said that he wants to “Bring it all down!” As I recall it.
    My hope is that the weirdness does not injure people to its theme, over time.
    I have to say that I have been afraid that either Sinema, or Manchin, might go R.

  12. I hope you are right, Sheila. I still am wary of the weirdos. Look at our next Secretary of State. The pro-weird electorate still exists.

    As a curious question about the new lineup, I wonder how my extreme-right former congresswoman will deal with her pro-Putin caucus. (For those who don’t know, Victoria Spartz is an extreme right winger calling everyone “socialist” which she “knows” means “evil” — but she was born in Ukraine and is very defensive of the land of her birth. I lost her in redistricting to Andre Carson, for which I am grateful.)

    As for Sinema and Manchin, nothing will change. Sineam knows she would lose the next primary to a real Democrat, but neither she nor Manchin could become Republicans. This isn’t like the old days of Dixicrats switching parties. The GOP is run by purist and pure MAGA those two ain’t.

    I never trusted Sinema. She supported Nader’s “better ‘W’ than Gore” campaign and as a Green, is highly suspect (European Greens tend to be anti immigration; American Greens tend to want to sacrifice the possible for the perfect). Now she is for enriching Sinema, regardless of the cost to the environment or any of the “little people”. She will be RICH. And for the time being, she will be in the spotlight — a lot.

  13. Governing is not politics nor vice versa. For one thing, the constituencies are different. Politic to voters, govern for everyone, is how it’s supposed to be done.

    Politics is in-person advertising and the usual marketing rules apply. Typically some truth, almost never the whole truth.

    One way to politic without too many consequences for from the truth left out is to let others do it for you. Advertising by proxy. Don’t risk your credibility.

    No matter how a politician advertises the first requirement is to get people to notice you. That’s the same problem facing mass media which is really in the business of selling products and services. Keep the audience entertained between the messages paying the bills so they don’t wander away either physically or mentally.

    All of this boils down to the symbiotic relationship between political parties and mass media and the role of propaganda as entertainment between media commercials. Why not? It’s like the symbiosis between traditional car companies and big oil. One hand washes the other.

    We’ve become entitled to entertainment almost 24/7. We thought it was free but, it turns out, nothing in life is.

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