Read Seth Cotlar

@sethcotlar has a very excellent thread asking never Trump conservatives what really changed with Trump. He says he is willing to be convinced that Trump isn’t just letting the mask drop and saying the quiet parts out loud, but that they haven’t made a case that Conservativism was ever worth anything.

Zack Beauchamp fair used it over at

It is devastating and brief (Twitter is evil but it does prevent prolixity — might be the only medium for concise historians not named Tacitus).

I fair use squared the following which I consider to be a very important insight


30. This points to another thread in the history of conservatism that dates all the way back to Bill Buckley…conservatism has often defined itself largely AGAINST a phantom “left” that doesn’t really exist as they think it does.


31. Not only do conservatives tend to see that “left” as monolithic, they also see it as posing an existential threat to “western civilization” or “our way of life.”

32. Without the slippery slope argument, conservatism loses much of its rhetorical punch. Want Medicare? You’re secretly a commie. Support gay right? You hate the nuclear family! Support the rights of transgender people? There’s no biological truth anymore!


33. This is not just a rhetorical device conservative politicians deployed to gin up votes. It’s also been an essential piece of conservative intellectual thought as well. “Standing athwart history yelling stop,” and such.

Yes yes yes. Partly, this is an example of an error of thought which is more common than any other error of thought or any valid method of thought, the false dichotomy. Setting up and knocking down straw men is irresistably tempting. But I think it is important that the seem to actually believe this.

American Conservatism largely defined itself as anti-Communism. I don’t think they evern managed to get over the end of the USSR. One of the central tenets was that of the “Clear and Present Danger” of Communist world conquest. The collapse of the USSR demonstrated that they were totally utterly wrong. But Reagan and Bush were Presidents at the time, so they declared that everything which showed they were wrong, showed they were right.

To an extraordinary extent, Conservatives reject compromise by arguing that compromise is impossible, that any concessions are steps out onto the slippery slope to serfism.

A bit more fairusing below.

29. So why are there so few conservative professors and intellectuals? In part because conservatism became so associated with jingoistic anti-intellectualism that it became nearly impossible for an educated person to defend it.

I am an economist, so I will discuss the economic aspect — wingnut welfare. Conservatives don’t have to put up with professors, because there a few very rich conservatives willing to finance conservative think tanks. Loyal conservatives get cushy jobs there and are accepted by TV bookers as experts. They write things which look sort of like academic books and articles. Why would a conservative slave away as an assistant (or, gasp, adjunct) professor.

Conservatives who can write full paragraphs can get jobs with full professor salaries and complete job security so long as they don’t deviate from orthodoxy. Same goes for newspaper reporters, conservatives who want to be journalists can start near the top at some massively subsidized conservative magazine. Why would they spend years reporting on local zoning commissions ?

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