This is going to make certain people as upset as it made them when Rush said it, but it does not make it less true.
The other day, Rush was talking about a segment of the conservative intelligentsia who think writing a column or delivering a clever line on television is all they need to do in commitment to the cause. They don’t want to actually advocate a position or fight for anything. They just talk and write.
That’s actually all well and good. There are a number of tremendous writers and thinkers on the right and I learn a lot from them and am not really talking about them specifically. But I have noticed, as has Rush, a dangerous trend.
Frequently, when I point out some fool on the left and their foolish writing, I also point out that the fool has never held a real job in the real world. He has spent his entire life mired in left-wing non-profit punditry, coming straight from some ivy league coddling session to a Washington Post or Vox blog without really contributing anything to the country. From that vantage point, he believes he can tell everyone else how to order society.
Well, the same is happening on the right with a number of twenty and thirty-something voices.
The right’s situation gets mitigated a bit because many of those in the same situation actually dare travel to places in the middle part of the country the leftwing elite just fly over to ensure their nose always stays above it. Many of the conservative voices also attend church and are continually reminded at they are not God, though they have a tendency to think they are.
But at root, there are a growing number of self-congratulatory pundits on the right who’ve never worked a day in their lives, but have terrifically mournful stories of the time their nanny didn’t cut the crust off their peanut butter and jelly sandwich back in the day. These guys not only think the pen is mightier than the sword, but they want to pooh-pooh anyone who dares to get sweat on his brow actually advocating for something.
I encounter this and I know many others on the right do too. We go door to door for conservatives, we find conservatives and fundraise for them, advocate for them, we get people to call members of congress, we actually show up at rallies for conservatives for office and the guys back in D.C. write condescendingly about the conservatives “out there” saying not nice things about Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, etc.
I’ve got a dear friend who runs a policy shop who had spent a number of years in the private sector first. He had a pundit come in and apply for a job once. He looked at the guy’s resume. The guy had gotten out of an ivy league school and went straight to work writing about policy and politics for an outlet in D.C. My friend looks at the guy and asks if he had ever had a private sector job. The answer was no. Then my friend wondered if the guy had ever worked on a political campaign or in congress. Nope. In fact the guy being interviewed was indignant at the implications of the questions. He didn’t get the job, but remains a “political analyst” on TV and the internet.
As Tim Carney writes in his most recent column, there is a growing global distrust of elite leaders and opinion makers. That distrust has grown on the right and much of it comes because in the age of Google you can find out that the person you’re reading has no experience in the real world and is frequently critical of anyone who dares to actually advocate a position instead of just pontificating about it.
Earlier this year in Atlanta, I was pushing hard for a state version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the Georgia legislature. I was getting people to call their members, helping organize rallies, targeting opponents for primary challenges, etc. A conservative pundit on television actually said of me, “I think [Erick Erickson] has overstepped the bounds of talkshow host. He’s down to advocating and calling people out.”
Yes. It is what I do. It is what conservatives should be doing. But when many of us do, there are always those who want an invite to the next cocktail party in D.C. who will make sure to pen a column that they surely would never do that. And every time that group takes on Donald Trump or Ted Cruz or even a number of solid conservative organizations out there, it just makes those on the outside more trusted, whether they should be or not.