Vox Writer: Anti-Trump Conservatives Partly Responsible For Trump

August 16th, 2016 11:33 PM

As you probably know, Sean Hannity and The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens recently sniped at each other regarding Donald Trump. Among the highlights: Stephens, who during primary season called Trump’s candidacy “the open sewer of American conservatism,” alleged that Trump backer Hannity was “Fox News' dumbest anchor,” to which Hannity retorted that Stephens was a “dumbass with his head up his ass.”

Those hostilities, suggested Vox’s Zack Beauchamp in a Monday piece, were more on the level of an NFL intrasquad game than, say, Steelers vs. Ravens in the playoffs. Beauchamp argued that Hannity and Stephens, whatever their differences over Trump, have something much more important in common: a “conservative worldview, defined by a widespread acceptance of unsupportable ideas, that helped give rise to Trump.”

“In conservative land,” wrote Beauchamp, “outside criticism is dismissed as a product of liberal bias in media and academia, or as rank apologism for the Obama administration…There is no bright line between Bret Stephens and Sean Hannity. They can both only exist in a conservative informational environment where independent intellectual authorities are disregarded and a certain set of politically convenient but indefensible ideas are treated as catechisms. The key difference is that Hannity is less pretentious about it.”

Beauchamp commented that Republican politicians have been “all too happy to cater to” righty media, but that these days, “this Faustian bargain is biting conservative elites in the ass” (bolding added):

Rank-and-file voters bought into movement conservatism as an expression of cultural grievance and racism, not deep commitment to limited government principles. When someone better at manipulating those grievances came along, conservative elites couldn’t stop him by calling him out of touch with the expert policy consensus. They had spent years delegitimizing that criticism.

…What we’re seeing now is a lot of purveyors of crank ideas, like Stephens, wondering how a purveyor of a different set of crank ideas could hijack their movement.