Try this one on for size: Media outlets don’t need conservatives for intellectual and political variety. They can just get... other liberals. That’s the argument put forward on New York magazine's website, Sunday. Writer Eric Levitz argued that because some conservatives tried — and failed — to stop Trump from obtaining the GOP nomimation in 2016, their ideas are irrelevant.
Levitz begins his diatribe with the basic assumption that conservative are basically racist: “For decades, many of the American right’s most influential voices had rejected those supposedly shared values, and many of the conservative movement’s animating ideas were manifestly arational and racist.”
Levitz described the kind of acceptable conservatism as similar to (the barely-a-moderate) David Brooks. He added that since conservatism is irrelevant, why bother showcasing it to readers and viewers?
Alas, there is a problem with this approach — it inevitably confronts the editors of such outlets with the thorny question: If the conservatives who are fit to print aren’t actually representative of the Republican worldview, then what do they offer their (predominately) liberal readers? If center-left publications are going to screen out ideas that are undeniably relevant — on the grounds that they violate their institutions’ bedrock values — why retain irrelevant perspectives that are so much in tension with those values?
It’s one thing to employ a conservative writer because he or she is interesting (a distinction I’d personally award to a handful of idiosyncratic reactionaries, Ross Douthat and Michael Brendan Dougherty, among them); it’s another to employ a substandard columnist because he or she is conservative. And liberal publications, in their quest for balance, have often done the latter.
To be crystal clear what he’s saying, since most conservative ideas have been proved to be wrong, there is no debate:
The others have clung to ideas too discredited to “challenge” liberal readers: The notions that tax cuts spur growth; high deficits produce runaway inflation; inequality is the necessary and worthwhile price of economic dynamism; and social-welfare programs inevitably breed dependence (and thus, hurt the poor more than they help them) are all empirical claims that have proven demonstrably false.
Apparently, the real intellectual debate is between the left and, er, the far left:
Take the most fundamental question dividing left-liberals from socialists: Should the means of production be socialized? Many on the center-left regard this as a dead debate — one that Joseph Stalin settled decisively long ago.
But the events of recent decades have lent some credence to the socialists’ case: The democratic left’s argument has long been that, while welfare capitalism is undoubtedly superior to totalitarian communism, the former is inherently unstable and unsustainable. Eventually, the inequalities that capitalism produces undermine the government’s capacity to spread the wealth around.
What question should be debated? Levitz links to queries such as “Is the U.S. Constitution bad?” or “Should workplaces be democracies?” See how diverse the marketplace of ideas can be when you banish conservative thought?
The animating argument behind this debate is whether The Atlantic magazine was right to fire writer Kevin Williamson simply because he is staunchly pro-life. According to New York magazine, since there is no legitimate conservative arguments, there is no point in debating it.