When Movement Conservatism Collides with Reality

One of the hallmarks of movement conservatism–and which is why some asshole with a blog often writes, “Nothing in movement conservatism makes sense except in the light of creationism”–is the ability, often successful, to ignore reality, even as it collides with their ideology. Often the reality is hard to observe at an individual level (how does an average person perceive global warming?) or can be managed away through incessant propaganda. Other problems aren’t ‘real’ ones–gay marriage is only a ‘problem’ if you let it be one; there are no material consequences of its legalization (except for gay people obviously, but straights are unaffected). And, of course, it’s easy to support disastrous policies if the consequences of those policies don’t affect you; the effort required to overcome any cognitive dissonance is small.

But COVID-19 is a very different beast, and it’s where the rubber meets the road (boldface mine):

The lie that people are desperate to get back to work, to shopping, etc. is only useful when the bluff cannot be called; that is, in states where business shutdowns and shelter-in-place are still in effect. But all it takes to destroy the illusion is to give these people what they want. Georgia’s “re-opening” was a gigantic wet fart for businesses. The owner of one hip Atlanta bar was told to expect business at 10% of normal levels for the first weekend; instead he got two customers. Two. For the entire weekend. It would have been better financially for him to remain closed. Two customers didn’t pay for having the lights on. Unless you sincerely believe that there was a bar around the corner that was mobbed with customers, his example may not be universal but is probably not too far from the norm.

The truth is that people are afraid, and with good cause. They are afraid of unnecessary risk. They’re willing to go to the grocery store because, well, food is a necessity. But they’re very far from being willing to roll the dice on going to the ballgame or the bar or the bowling alley or the diner. Nobody, perhaps not even most Trumpers, believe the Trump party line about how things are under control and this is no big deal. Yeah there are dead-enders who absolutely believe the virus is fake or whatever, but…at least in Georgia, the data suggest that they didn’t go charging out their front door to have a shopping spree as soon as the Governor gave the word.

Over the weekend, right wing bugshitarian Michelle Malkin proclaimed that she would refuse the ‘Gates vaccine.’ I’m guessing if we manage to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, she’ll find a way to claim that the particular vaccine isn’t a Gates vaccine. Many Trump supporters will never admit they were wrong, but their actions will tell you what they really believe.

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2 Responses to When Movement Conservatism Collides with Reality

  1. rrhersh says:

    The group that interests me are the self-identified libertarians. They have a long history of arriving at FoxNews-approved positions, but engulfed in pseudo-intellectual pretentiousness, with the most abhorrent positions accompanied by a doleful expression of regret that pure reason requires them, and we can’t let sentimentality get in the way. This seems to have gone by the wayside with Covid, at least with the ones I have read. They have tended instead to full trutherism.

    On the one hand, this isn’t necessary. One can construct an internally consistent argument against closing down, based on costs versus benefits, without pretending that all epidemiologists are fools or liars. So why haven’t they gone this route? I think it is because it makes too loud what are supposed to be the quiet parts. Arguing that stock prices are more important than keeping the olds and the poors alive is nothing new. This is Republican ideology in a nutshell. But one does not actually say so, where they might be recorded. Alas, Covid doesn’t lend itself to making the argument discreetly. Some might even recoil from it: not enough to stop parroting the FoxNews line, but enough to drop the intellectual pretensions around it.

  2. ElHongo says:

    rrhersh: Same in Europe, or at least parts of Europe – trutherism seems all but absent in France, UK, Spain, Italy (gee, I wonder why). Germany, which got off lightly as for the primary death toll, is full of it. Protests all over the country, mostly small pickets, some large (thousands), a few huge (10.000 and up). Since Europe’s primary outbreak is now mostly past except in the UK, they haven’t had their “Wisconsin moment” yet. But they’re working on it.

    “Nothing in movement conservatism makes sense except in the light of creationism” – indeed so, and generally one might say: “Nothing in erratic thought systems – be they movement conservative, Randroid Libertarian, plain old wingnuttery, etc – makes sense except in the light of teleology”.

    “The Lancet” did a “Vote Against Trump” editorial now. This is what we need – force people to pick their side. Now we can see the dividing line between humankind and sociopathy incarnate more clear than ever (or at least since 1945).
    And it may be unpalatable, but ultimately the question needs to be asked: are sociopaths people? Do they deserve civic rights, or merely human rights, or even less? Can they legitimately be elected rulers? Can they legitimately be put down like rabid dogs? Can we afford to go on treating them as fully human, or does that put the future of our species in unacceptable jeopardy?
    The MAGA pepes and QAnons love their free speech and debates. So, let’s have a debate!

    “There’s only two human ‘races’: that of decent humans, and that of the inhumane. And these occur in every country and culture.” (Viktor Frankl)

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