Intellectual incest deep within the Madison bubble
One of these days, the editor of The Capital Times is going to interview a conservative. Maybe. Unintentionally. By accident, in a case of mistaken political identity.
Paul Fanlund once did interview a UW-Madison social scientist who took a field trip to Trump country in the Wisconsin outback. Today the editor of Your Progressive Voice sits down with State Rep. Terese Berceau for coffee and chatter. They chose safe ground “smack in the heart of her west Madison district dominated by like-minded progressives.”
As do people who speak only to others of like minds, Terese reinforces Fanlund’s pre-conceived notion of conservatives as “callous … and lacking compassion.”
Where have you heard that before? Actually, Rep. Berceau said the same thing about Yours Truly when he introduced legislation in 1994-95 to end county relief to able-bodied childless adults, a New Deal vestige out of the Great Depression. Odd — if its termination be so callous and without compassion — that none of the liberal-dominated county boards since has bothered to restore that program, once thought to be a matter of life and death.
Terese, a friendly acquaintance and welcome guest at the Stately Manor, repeated the same thing when the Squire voiced approval of Act 10’s requirement that government employees contribute to their pension and health insurance benefits. It is a policy that the rest of Wisconsin thought prudent and remains in force these seven years later, through three elections since — not counting attempted recall elections. Maybe a little compassion for taxpayers, Terese?
In today’s published interview, Fanlund clucks with approval when Rep. Berceau name drops a New York University social psychologist who holds that conservatives value authority so highly that “it gives them no qualms about sticking together on every vote.” Um, we are talking about Republicans, right? Speaker Robin Vos never disagrees with Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald? Governor Walker is on the same page as Vos? Did you miss the highway funding debate?
Unaware that Republicans John McCain, Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, and Susan Collins (to name a few) walk lockstep with Donald Trump.
Paul, you have stumbled on some real news!
Backward reels the mind
Which reminds your ancient scribbler of his previous career as an increasingly disenchanted young Democrat writing for The Capital Times. Thought it would be great fun to attend the county Republicans’ election night party. The party got swamped across the board, as your raconteur predicted. But these Republicans were fun! They danced, they joked, and they drank their toasts. They did not curse The System, blame macro-economic forces, or bullyrag the reporter from the liberal newspaper.
The resulting story played brightly on Page One like a scoop of sherbet ice cream amidst the usual orphanage gruel.
Having fallen off the same donkey as Saul of Tarsus, Your Squire still reads The Capital Times, subscribes on-line to The Nation, picks the Sunday New York Times off the Manor driveway, and peeks in occasionally at Rachel Maddow until I Can Stands It No More! as Popeye the Sailorman used to exclaim.
Venturing outside the Bubble
In the same vein, a former Hillary staffer ventured to CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference) and lived to tell about it: “As I look back on all the people who greeted me warmly, made sure I didn’t get lost in the crowd, and went out of their way to introduce me to their friends.”
In retrospect, I’m embarrassed at how nervous I was when I arrived. I found myself singing along to “God Bless the USA” with a hilariously rowdy group of college Republicans, having nuanced discussions about gun control and education policy with people from all walks of life, nodding my head in agreement with parts of Ben Shapiro’s speech, and coming away with a greater determination to burst ideological media bubbles.
Among liberals, conservatives have a reputation for being closed-minded, even deplorable. But in the Washington Republicans I encountered at CPAC, I found a group of people who acknowledged their party’s shortcomings, genuinely wondered why I left my corporate job to join Mrs. Clinton’s campaign in 2016, and listened to my arguments before defending their own positions.
The essayist, one Annafi Wahed, commented, “I can’t help but wonder how a Trump supporter would have fared at a Democratic rally. Would someone wearing a MAGA hat be greeted with smiles or suspicion, be listened to or shouted down?”
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Too many of my own compatriots have fallen into the same intellectual cul de sac as our self-referential liberal-progressive-socialist acquaintances — most especially Hannity’s Always Trump storm troopers.