David Frum’s Ongoing Apostasy

David Frum, once one of the most reliably Republican of Republicans continues his awakening to the reality that conservatives in America have gone completely insane.  Inside of David there is a Progressive struggling to get out.

Frum writes,

In the aughts, Republicans held more power for longer than at any time since the twenties, yet the result was the weakest and least broadly shared economic expansion since World War II, followed by an economic crash and prolonged slump. Along the way, the GOP suffered two severe election defeats in 2006 and 2008. Imagine yourself a rank-and-file Republican in 2009: If you have not lost your job or your home, your savings have been sliced and your children cannot find work. Your retirement prospects have dimmed. Most of all, your neighbors blame you for all that has gone wrong in the country. There’s one thing you know for sure: None of this is your fault! And when the new president fails to deliver rapid recovery, he can be designated the target for everyone’s accumulated disappointment and rage. In the midst of economic wreckage, what relief to thrust all blame upon Barack Obama as the wrecker-in-chief.

For a party that lives by the mantra of personal responsibility, most Republicans live in complete denial of their part in enabling the long slide our nation has endured and no amount of Obama-bashing can make up for the Bush years and the economic catastrophe wrought by the policies of the “free market” and “deregulation.”

But Frum believes there is a special place in the ninth circle of hell for the conservative media who have enabled this reality distortion field to grow and consume conservative thought.

Over the past two decades, conservatism has evolved from a political philosophy into a market segment. An industry has grown up to serve that segment—and its stars have become the true thought leaders of the conservative world. The business model of the conservative media is built on two elements: provoking the audience into a fever of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (so that they never change the channel). As a commercial proposition, this model has worked brilliantly in the Obama era. As journalism, not so much.

We used to say “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.” Now we are all entitled to our own facts, and conservative media use this right to immerse their audience in a total environment of pseudo-facts and pretend information.

And to his enduring credit, Frum does not collapse into the “both sides do it” meme.  No, instead he points (correctly) to the root of the problems right in his own house.

Yet in the interests of avoiding false evenhandedness, it must be admitted: The party with a stronger charge on its zapper right now, the party struggling with more self-­imposed obstacles to responsible governance, the party most in need of a course correction, is the Republican Party. Changing that party will be the fight of a political lifetime. But a great political party is worth fighting for.

America, and the Republican Party, can use quite a few more like David Frum.


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2 thoughts on “David Frum’s Ongoing Apostasy

  1. First time I’ve looked you up on computer but watch you on TV all I can. I loved this post and agree with this specifically.

    We used to say “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.” Now we are all entitled to our own facts, and conservative media use this right to immerse their audience in a total environment of pseudo-facts and pretend information.”

    I am here as a brother Canadian to ask you a question for which I do not have an answer, I’d love to know this.

    The man ‘Grover Norquist’,- I might have his name wrong,- but I’m talking about the guy who seems to have been able to circumvent legalities to get a lot of Republicans to swear some kind of allegiance to his no tax plan, isn’t this illegal? Is he not criminalizing the U.S. political system?

  2. Although I have had (& continue to have) disagreements with many of Mr. Frum’s past assertions vis a vis the causality & remedies related to our current national difficulties, I readily admit my profound admiration for the honesty & acumen of your most recent eloquent and yet concise description of it’s development & etiology, as relates to the the precipitous turn towards extremist populism by formerly centrist Republican candidates, rendering them now unelectable, at least in my view, despite undoubted attempts by the victor to moderate these views once the nomination is secured..
    My understanding is that, at least presently, giving voice to these views has adversely affected your carreer. I suspect this to be temporary, your insight and integrity winning out in the end. One wonders however, why, to date, the vast majority; left, right & middle, with far less to lose, continue to employ other such false equivalencies & and similar fictions, no doubt in interests of avoiding even a taste of what you have had to endure . Kudos to you Mr. Frum, you are a patriot AND journalist of the top tier, whatever else we may disagree on.

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