I tend to read AlterNet a lot, mostly because I am highly amused about articles with titles like “Shocking Top Nine Republican Lies: The Disastrous Menace of Rampant Vampire Capitalism!” You know where you stand with articles like that. They lay their bias right out front. (Also I totally wrote for them a couple times and I’m generally fond of anyone who gives me money.)
Unfortunately, they believe a lot of things about Republicans that… really, really aren’t true.
The Republican Party accurately reflects the views of its constituents. See, there’s this recurring leftist meme (I remember seeing it when Clinton was president and when the Democrats took the house in 2006 and it happens a lot with Obama) about how the Democratic Party is totally weak! It won’t go after the big banks! Why is it giving in to the Republicans? Obama likes consensus too much! The Republicans are successful and getting everything they want and we get nothing! NOTHING!!!
The problem is that if you go look at conservative websites Obama’s bullies are getting everything they want and are, like, five seconds from taking away your guns and putting everyone into FEMA camps. The Republicans aren’t holding strong on anything– not abortion, not gay marriage, not the deficit, anything! Why do they keep giving into Obama?
I think the actual problem is that both Democrats and Republicans have to appeal to the center and to large donors, so they’re not going to do everything their base wants. Since the base is usually surrounded by other members of the base and thus overestimates the prevalence of its ideas, from the base’s perspective, it looks like the other side is getting everything it wants and our side is inexplicably weak.
Some random idiot reflects the beliefs of the Republican Party. Literally every five minutes on Twitter some idiot Republican says something dumb about abortion or rape or birth control and then we all have to hear about What This Means For The Republican Party, which apparently all secretly believes that you can’t get pregnant from rape and when you use birth control your uterus fills with little crystallized fetuses. Of course, if you go on Breitbart.com (I went on Breitbart.com to research this, I need a shower now), you’ll find out all about how Democrats believe Chavez was a good leader who understood the needs of the poor, rape victims shouldn’t be allowed to defend themselves, the sequester cuts should be as painful as possible, etc.
Okay, so none of those are quite as good examples as Mr. Akin. In my defense, I’ve been part of Leftist Internet for years and I could only bear to be on Breitbart.com for five minutes before I wanted to vomit, so my Leftist Internet sample is way better.
Note that I’m not saying that Republicans as a group don’t believe dumb things. They do (“evolution isn’t true!”). Just that you cannot take any random thing some random vaguely famous Republican says, possibly in context and possibly not, and claim that this is what Republicans as a group believe. (It’s possible that the Republican Party has a higher percentage of people that say really dumb shit? But again lefty media don’t tend to trumpet the liberals who say dumb shit, so I don’t know.)
Republicans are a totally united front. Guys, no. The Republican Party has libertarians and conservative Christians in it. I’m amazed they manage to get them to vote for the same people at all, given that in a sensible universe the libertarians and the conservative Christians would have literally opposite opinions about everything. That is some fucking amazing coalition-building there guys good job. The sex-positive vs. radical feminist war suddenly seems way less daunting.
Death threats. A few years back, when Men Call Me Things happened, I saw a lot of arguments that getting death or rape threats was uniquely a result of being a feminist blogger and proved how much anti-feminists hate us. That… kind of fell apart when feminists started sending death threats to Laci Green.
And the thing is… I only know about that because Laci Green is also a feminist. I don’t read conservative blogs; if conservatives got death threats, I would have no fucking idea. I mean. Maybe someone’s going to comment here and be like “actually I am a conservative blogger and there are none of the death threats!” in which case I’ll revise this, but my null hypothesis is that there are horrible people on all sides and sometimes horrible people send people death threats. (Anyway, a cursory Google suggests that lefty people have threatened death against Mitt Romney, Scott Fitzgerald, and Rush Limbaugh, so clearly some of us are willing to.)
Let me be clear: women are far more likely to get death and rape threats, as well as other kinds of horrific insults, online. (Just ask anyone semi-Internet-famous who switched from a male/gender-neutral to a female name, or vice versa.) That is an important conversation to have and one that I’m glad Men Call Me Things kicked off. The conversation about how leftists are uniquely victimized because only we get death threats? Nope.