Billionaire and maybe-Twitter purchaser Elon Musk positive loves memes. Typically they make sense, typically they don’t (and normally he’s not the one making them.) Thursday’s viral meme definitely fell into the latter two classes.
The argument being made right here is a straightforward one: From 2008 to 2021, the political left moved much more to the left, whereas the fitting remained in the identical precise spot. This I didn’t change! It was the left who left me! angle is a fairly frequent trope amongst center-right varieties, nevertheless it’s merely not true. Whereas maybe comforting, there may be loads of empirical proof to refute the core declare.
Clearly, political whims shift over time, and events might flip-flop on particular person points. However broadly talking, the fitting has been shifting to the extremes for many years. Are you able to think about the fashionable mainstream Republican response to President Richard Nixon’s determination to create a model new federal company to guard the setting? Or how about President Ronald Reagan’s determination to supply amnesty to almost three million undocumented immigrants? How about President George W. Bush’s speech during which he mentioned the phrases “Islam is peace” — even when his administration’s actions mentioned in any other case?
Take a look at how rapidly the Republican Occasion turned towards 2008 presidential nominee Sen. John McCain and 2012 presidential nominee (and now senator) Mitt Romney, who’ve each been slammed as RINOs (“Republicans in Name Only”). The face of the celebration is now represented by the likes of Rep. Lauren Boebert, Madison Cawthorn and Marjorie Taylor Greene. Arguably the highest-profile non-congressional Republican proper now (apart from Trump) is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has spent the final yr passing a dizzying array of payments designed to cater particularly to the far-right.
The face of the celebration is now represented by the likes of Rep. Lauren Boebert, Madison Cawthorn and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
As for Democrats? Properly, they’ve positively moved to the left on just a few key points. For example, the celebration’s stance on LGBTQ rights has definitely shifted up to now a number of years, even when that hasn’t resulted in a ton of LGBTQ-inclusive insurance policies being applied on the federal stage. (In the meantime Republicans like DeSantis have lately gone on the assault, with laws just like the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” invoice focusing on LGBTQ lecturers and youth.)
Democrats have additionally, usually talking, shifted to the left on sentencing reform and police accountability, even when, once more, that hasn’t resulted in a ton of coverage to mirror this stance. For all of the thought items discussing whether or not cities ought to “defund the police,” metropolis officers in each pink and blue states are as soon as once more pouring cash into regulation enforcement. Elected Democrats nonetheless are usually fairly average on most points — particularly when in comparison with “leftist” positions overseas.
To take one other instance, whereas different international locations have government-funded well being care, the U.S. stays tied to its private-market insurance coverage business. As I’ve written up to now, the positions usually held by Democrats that get labeled by the press as “extreme” or “leftist” — similar to bans on high-capacity firearm magazines, common background checks on gun purchases, assist for LGBTQ rights and taxing the ultra-rich — aren’t truly that excessive. These insurance policies are usually fairly common with most of the people, which is one thing you may’t precisely say about Republicans and their campaign to ban books, prohibit abortion rights and assault LGBTQ folks.
Maybe, as others similar to The Washington Publish’s Will Oremus have mentioned, it could possibly be that that is simply how Musk (and others) sees the world round them: not within the type of precise coverage however by way of the lens of the tradition wars.
And usually talking, it is sensible that having curated a media weight-reduction plan heavy on the misinformation peddled by Fox Information and co. or surrounding your self with pundits screaming about how trans individuals are supposedly ruining all the things good on the earth may warp your perspective. For those who spent the summer time of 2020 being inundated by Fox Information footage of Black Lives Matter protests, you may genuinely assume that the left is uncontrolled. This notion, nonetheless, merely doesn’t match actuality.
It’s not unusual for folks to delude themselves into believing that their most popular political facet is the cheap one and that it’s the different facet that’s uncontrolled, as Musk has. That being mentioned, if Musk truly believes the meme — which was created final yr by Colin Wright, who writes a Substack principally about gender and earlier this week attacked the Trevor Venture, an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention group, as a part of the continued right-wing smear marketing campaign focusing on LGBTQ adults and youngsters — that’s extra worrying. In any case, Musk is prone to quickly management Twitter, a software which, for all its faults, nonetheless wields energy.
If, as Musk has said, he needs to have a “politically neutral” platform, which he defines as “upsetting the far right and the far left equally” (that isn’t what “politically neutral” truly means), and he believes that Twitter has a bias that favors the left, as one other meme he lately shared baselessly recommended, we need to know what “neutral” actually means to him. In simply the previous few days, he’s used Twitter to work together with right-leaning pundits like Ben Shapiro, Dave Rubin, Saagar Enjeti, Steven Crowder and even one-time Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich. Does he acknowledge these as conservative voices? Shapiro, for his half, has known as on Musk to kind a “Truth and reconciliation commission revealing past manipulation” and for Musk to “Fire a LOT of people.”
For the “upsetting the far right and the far left equally” speak, Musk positive appears to be telegraphing a fairly conservative imaginative and prescient for Twitter, full with conspiracy theories about anti-conservative bias and complaints about “the woke mind virus” and “pronouns.” There are a variety of questions on what Twitter will appear to be below Musk’s management, but when his memes are to be believed, it might not be very “neutral” in any respect.