On Tuesday, millions of Americans are going to go to the polls. Choosing the next leaders of our country is a sacred civic ritual. The country faces serious challenges at home and abroad, and our leaders are sure to face unforeseen crises. Elections are a priceless gift and the solemn duty of responsible citizens, determining not only the direction of the world’s pre-eminent nation but also the fate of democracy and the hope for self-government worldwide.
But you wouldn’t know it by following the news.
Watching news today, it’s no wonder our politics is so broken. Half the media spends its time consumed in faux outrage over mundane Republican policy proposals, and the other half spends its time brown-nosing President Trump. Just look at The Boston Globe’s credulous coverage of Elizabeth Warren’s DNA report, or the Kitchen Cabinet of sycophants that passes for a prime time lineup on Fox News. Someone should remind them that the point of the news media is to inform citizens and voters, not to raise our blood pressure.
On the Right, a “news” guest spews anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about George Soros, a man who, having fled Nazism in his country of birth, has lived long enough to see violent anti-Semitism resurgent in the country that offered him shelter. Anti-Semites and others in the “backwaters of American life,” as Ronald Reagan put it, were for so long excommunicated from the Republican Party and the conservative tradition, but no longer. Now, as the president labels himself a nationalist, and tells his supporters to “use that word,” bigots of all stripes emerge from the shadows. To Tucker Carlson, even the Roma community in Pennsylvania was a cause for national concern, though Roma constitute 0.3 percent of the national population.
The Left has gone just as nuts. Yascha Mounk, a lecturer at Harvard and a contributor to Slate, was told he couldn’t refer to the mass murder of Jews as racist because, in effect, Jews were too white to be victims of racism, according to a tweet.
Occasionally, the liberal-dominated media seem to have a slight edge in quality, since their bias, while monolithic and infuriating, doesn’t assume quite as much stupidity and pliability from their audience. This all changes whenever the Great White Hope Michael Avenatti grabs the headlines, which seems to be about once every five minutes (or half as much as he’d like).
Worst of all, as Yuval Levin pointed out, the dumbed-down, hyper-partisan aura of cable news is being imported to Congress, whose members would rather generate sound bites than legislation and would rather grandstand than solve problems. They get their practice chest-beating and demagoguing on the floors of the House and Senate, honing their skills for the real prize: a contract from a major network.
Believe it or not, both Joe Scarborough and Jason Chaffetz used to write our laws.
Conservatives used to have refuges where they could escape from the unrelenting bias of the mainstream media. Talk radio and Fox News stood as sanctuaries for advocates of limited government, individual liberty, robust civil society, strong defense, and strict adherence to the Constitution.
Now, those corrupted temples contribute as much to the tribalization of American politics as their counterparts on the Left. For every Don Lemon there’s a Sean Hannity and for every Mother Jones there’s a Breitbart.
With media so polarized, where can noble flag-bearers of pre-schism conservatism turn?
At The Bulwark, a new website devoted to aggregating the best of conservative commentary and analysis without tribalism or sloganeering, principled, center-right thinkers and writers develop a positive agenda for a more prosperous, just and virtuous country.
The Bulwark was founded by seasoned veterans of the conservative movement and Republican politics, including Bill Kristol, Mona Charen, Charlie Sykes and Linda Chavez. Every day, the site is updated with the best news and commentary from around the country for a scrupulous, sane audience. It rejects the politics of identity — white indentitarian, intersectional or otherwise.
Citizenship is an important part of life — far more important than partisan affiliation. One of the most important acts of citizenship is voting, and good citizens make sure to keep themselves informed about the affairs of the country and the world, so that when it comes time to choose their leaders, they’re prepared to make a wise choice. Clearly, cable news isn’t going to help. Now there’s another option.