NY Times's Peters Says Pandemic Should Stop 'Me First Conservatism' 'That Has Thrived'

May 30th, 2020 9:00 AM

The New York Times lead National “news” story on Friday was a full-page attack on conservatives by NewsBusters regular Jeremy Peters, who once again used the coronavirus pandemic as a cudgel: “‘The Crisis of 2020,’ Predicted in 1991: What’s Next?

Peters first marveled at how the 1991 book “Generations” by William Strauss and Neil Howe predicted an “unspecified calamity” in 2020. (Strauss and Howe popularized the generational terms “Generation X,” “The Silent Generation” and “Millennials.”)

Peters forwarded Howe’s post-pandemic prediction of “a generational realignment" that "does not bode well for President Trump or the Republicans."

Of course it doesn't.

For most of the past 75 years, the Republican attitude about government has been rooted in a deep skepticism of authority that says, in essence: Success doesn’t take a village; it takes a determined individual whose government isn’t standing in the way. But that belief, Mr. Howe said, “is uniquely ill-suited to the current crisis.”

Howe was critical of the "conservative" generation of Baby Boomers, as well as the following one, Generation X.

....Mr. Howe, who at 68 is a member of the cohort he is critical of, said in an interview that it was no coincidence that the boomer president and many people in his generation -- especially the more conservative ones -- have generally taken a more lax attitude toward the coronavirus than younger people.

Peters cued up Howe to conveniently unload Peters’ own liberal aggrievement. The paper made it the text box quote.

“This is really the problem with Gen X and baby boomers,” Mr. Howe said. “They’ve championed this kind of individualism. They’ve championed thinking less about the community.”

Even conservatives compliments were backhand – selfish survivalism may be handy!

....conservatives might argue that they are the best equipped to confront a moment that feels at times as if the apocalypse is at hand. Cable news, talk radio and right-wing websites have long been full of ads for products intended to sustain people through catastrophe: investments in precious metals, home generators and supplies to can your own food.

But the peace of mind those products offer is ultimately about looking out for oneself -- the kind of “me first” conservatism that developed out of America’s post-World War II boom.

Mr. Howe’s critique of today’s conservatives is shared by a growing number of younger Republicans. Rachel Bovard, the senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute, said that many in her generation wanted to see an interventionist government in areas of policy like trade and finance.

Intervention in “trade and finance” actually sounds pretty Trumpian, given the president's attacks on trade agreements and the Federal Reserve.

Peters even showed respect for Trump adviser Steve Bannon, at least when he attacked free-market conservatism.

If the pandemic doesn’t break the boomer generation’s grip on American government, some see hope that it will end the brand of conservatism that has thrived during their time in power.