(Thread) @MaxBoot’s heartfelt mea culpa, Part I
I think the way to understand Boot's journey & the answers he’s still searching for is through the prism of NYU prof. @JonHaidt work on the psychology of conservatives v. liberals.
So first, a digression.
1/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SOQduoLgRw&feature=youtu.be …
Here’s what Haidt has to say:
Across cultures we find 5 “foundations of morality.”
#1: The ability to feel compassion for others.
#2: Fairness and reciprocity, the “golden rule”
#3: Loyalty to the group.
#4: Respect for authority
2/ Purity, BTW, doesn’t just mean sexual morality—can also be the desire for pure food, healthy living, etc.
Liberals value 1 & 2 and tend to reject 3,4,5 as not part of morality.
Conservatives embrace all 5, but they don’t place 1 & 2 as highly as liberals.
3/ #3, #4, & #5 are the basis of authoritarianism, xenophobia & racism.
But without each in some measure we have chaos & lack of cooperation.
ALL are necessary (in some measure) for society to function.
The crux of the disagreement between liberals and conservatives is this:
4/ Liberals speak for the weak and oppressed; they want change and justice, even at the risk of chaos.
Conservatives speak for institutions & traditions; they want order even at cost to those at the bottom. (True conservatives also feel compassion: Remember, they stand on all 5)
5/ The conservative insight is that order is precious & hard to achieve—and easy to lose.
Liberals and conservatives both think they’re "right"
In a way, they both are. Both have something to contribute:
They form a balance: change v. stability (Think yin and yang).
6/ The hitch is that the modern GOP isn’t conservative; it is authoritarian.
(What do I mean by authoritarian? See👇 )
Boot is a traditional conservative.
A Jewish immigrant from the former Soviet Union, came to the US with his family as a boy of 6.
7/ At the age of 13, his father gave him a subscription to the National Review.
He fell in love with conservative values and aspired to be another George Will.
He graduated from Berkeley, which he characterized as Bezerkley, and eventually landed a plum job at the WSJ.
8/ He became an influential spokesperson for the GOP. He advised Rubio’s campaign.
When Trump came to power, and all Boot’s idols abandoned what he thought were genuniely held beliefs & traded their souls for power—he was stunned. Blindsided.
So he looked inward, and back.
9/ He searched for how he contributed to the rise of a dangerous demagogue.
He saw what he’d been missing all those years.
The heart of the book begins on page 165, with his awakening.
He came to understand that Trump is "a symptom of a deeper underlying disease" in the GOP.
10/ He painstakingly traced how the GOP morphed from a conservative to an authoritarian party.
He explains that by 1964, the GOP entirely ceased being the Party of Lincoln and became the Party of Southern Whites.
11/ “With the clarity of hindsight” he saw that “whatever GOP candidates claimed to stand for” GOP voters understood that the GOP candidates were promising to keep minorities in their place and maintain power for white men.
12/ He came to understand that his gender and skin color gave him special opportunities—even as an immigrant fleeing persecution; the US was the land of equal opportunity—for people like him.
13/ He defended GOP leaders of the past few decades, like the Bushes, by saying that despite their racist dogwhistles (or foghorns) they governed like traditional conservatives.
But they flirted with populism, conspiracy mongering, and know-nothingism. They tolerated bigotry.
14/ Their very moderation stoked fury on the far right, and eventually the GOP became what it had long pretended to be, the “Party of Stupid.”
After Boot's awakening, he commented that, “It’s amazing how little you see when your eyes are closed.”
15/ It seems to me he didn’t see it because he was blinded by his conservative instinct for loyalty —which is, to be fair, one of the foundations of morality (when kept in check).
In his words, he received: “a chastening lesson about the price of loyalty.”
16/ This is long enough.
Part II, coming soon, will be the mistakes Max Boot still makes (because he projects conservative values onto liberals) and,
Part III: Boot’s vision for how to save the republic, which incidentally, aligns with the authors of How Democracies Die.
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