A few interesting things have taken place in exchanges I’ve seen and experienced recently among the conservative and conservatarian grassroots. And by “interesting” I mean bordering-if-not-outright-insane.
Let’s start with the most recent which admittedly grated on me personally and is really on the periphery of my bigger point…
Excited about this blog and eager to share some of the initial posts, I took a few minutes to peruse my Disqus account which I never really paid much attention to before. (For those who don’t know, “Disqus” is an online commenting platform used by many websites. It allows readers to offer their feedback and engage in discussion with respect to articles published online.) I used the Disqus account with some regularity to leave comments, but never really explored it beyond that. My comment-to-upvote ratio is currently at 12.8, which isn’t shabby. That means I average about 13 “upvotes” for every comment I write, and it’s part of what inspired me to start blogging rather than just leaving comments. So upon closer inspection of my Disqus profile I learned that I have a few “followers” there. Cool! Who better to share a blog post with than people who already follow my writing elsewhere? Right…?
Enter Jay Riley.
Jay calls himself a fiscal conservative and a social libertarian, and while he appears to be somewhere in his mid-to-late 50s…Jay enjoys passing time at a site I’d never heard of before designated to “Young Conservatives.”
Jay left a comment offering a defense of Donald Trump over at “Young Conservatives” on this piece, to which I agreeably and respectfully replied. After all: Jay “follows” me on Disqus, we both identify as fiscal conservatives with libertarian stripes, we’re both cool with Trump…what could go wrong? Seems like a good person to invite to check out my 3 day old blog, no? Here’s that initial exchange:
Pretty simple, yes…? Then came Jay’s response which caught me off guard a bit, along with my response to it:
I could be reading it wrong. Communication is a very funny thing that way, especially when written and thus without the benefit of body language and inflection. But when the first thing that comes out of someone’s mouth is “I’m not sure if you lost me here or there,” I can’t help but feel like something else is going on. Maybe Jay thinks I write arrogantly? He wouldn’t be wrong, I can admit that. Still, the passive aggressive tone just lights my fuse.
Sidebar: I remember my wife saying something outstanding during our move from Palo Alto, CA to The Bronx, NY. We were somewhere around Utah when she excitedly noted: “Baby we haven’t even gotten there yet, and I’ll already take NYC aggressive over San Francisco passive aggressive any day of the week!” It was a classic line that’s stuck with me since she said it, and should serve to inform some of my readers as to why Jay’s tact rubbed me wrong.
Here’s his next reply along with mine, which is where things left off:
Yes, I dinged him pretty hard. I have a tendency to that when confronted with a handful of things…and inexplicably contrarian, poorly-qualified assertions like Jay offered up are among them.
Ultimately Jay, who’s a Trump supporter – or at least not among those who mercilessly attack Trump and any who support him – is inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to those claiming Trump truly in his heart hates all Mexicans and/or POWs.
I should probably share in it’s entirety the section that Jay apparently didn’t understand or inexplicably took great exception to:
I’m not sure what exactly what went so wrong, so early, in Jay’s mind with regard to my replying to his comment or my piece on Trump. (You can read my Trump piece in it’s entirety by clicking here.) I do know that while I’ll regrettably leverage sarcasm often like I do oxygen, when it comes to interactions among those with whom I likely agree on most things, I choose ‘aggressive’ over ‘passive aggressive’ to help make sure that person and anyone else in earshot knows exactly where I stand so as to ensure very clear communication.
I’m still perplexed by Jay, though. I’ve never met the man but it feels like he’s responding to me as if I left his sister at the alter or he has some other grudge against me, right from the start.
And sometimes that happens. When the left’s so-called liberals and progressives scream “RACISM!” or “SEXISM!” or “HOMOPHOBE!” or “ISLAMOPHOBE!” at every turn, I love telling them: “Hey…sometimes people just won’t like you. Plenty of people from the same race, with the same political affiliations, sexual identities, religions etc…just don’t like each other. It happens. It’s part of life. Welcome to the party!”
And maybe that’s what’s going on here. But it’s an odd feeling to reach out to someone totally respectfully and with good intentions, only to have them enlist a passive aggressive tone as if you have no right to be in the same room as them.
Jay is just a single example from this morning. And he’s probably a decent enough person. You take any two people offline, even if they don’t primarily share political leanings, and they’re likely to do marginally if not much better than they do online in terms of expressing themselves and their ideas clearly.
But that example aside — more and more elsewhere in the grassroots I’m hearing conservative-on-conservative violence play out with chides of “RACIST!” This takes me back to the Mississippi GOP Senate primary in 2014. A tea party favorite, Chris McDaniel, was set to beat entitled incumbent and RINO Thad Cochran. Knowing his fate was all but sealed, Thad employed the help of the GOP establishment’s go-to liar, Stuart Stevens, to launch a new tactic so he could stay in office. The plan? Use a loophole in Mississippi’s law that allows Democrats to vote in GOP primaries, then go out to predominantly black communities, tell them tea party conservative Chris McDaniel is a “RACIST!”, and ask those Democrats to vote for Thad in the GOP primary so he can help save them from those evil, racist, hateful tea party conservatives.
It was not only repulsive but politically regressive as, at a time when the GOP can and should have led the national dialogue by aggressively exposing and rejecting the left’s penchant for segregating and pandering to voters by race, Thad Cochran with the help of GOP establishment strategist flunkie Stuart Stevens chose instead to embrace and adopt that most destructive and regressive page right out of the Democrats’ playbook.
You can read Rush Limbaugh’s reliable wrap-up to some of this here.
What gets me most about the “RACIST!” attack is that very real bigotry is very much alive and well in the United States of America, and it very much is destroying both individual US citizens and our nation at large. Only contrary to popular belief, that bigotry comes expressly from the historically-consistent Democrat party who exercise it in plain sight. The “white supremacist” racists have long since been rightly marginalized to the fringes and there are very few of them left in our nation. But the soft bigotry, that which sits in plain sight suggesting it’s “RACIST!” to ask for ID because the person you ask might be black and we’re to believe black people somehow inherently lack the capacity to get an ID, that kind of bigotry is rampant and celebrated along with self-segregation and many other examples.
So we saw Thad Cochran with the help of Stuart Stevens use “RACIST!” against a tea party conservative to hold on to establishment power, and increasingly we’re seeing that same tactic play out in the grassroots as we engage in otherwise productive, lively debate ahead of the GOP 2016 Presidential primary.
It’s destructive and counter-productive — and it’s central to the right’s entirely unoriginal, uninspired grasp of a) what’s going on in the electorate right now and b) how to employ efficacy in messaging from which political expedience is merely a byproduct…as the real value lies in effecting substantive, lasting change that enables unity, progress and social evolution in the United States that is long overdue.