David Roberts+ Your Authors @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Nov. 28, 2018 3 min read + Your Authors


1. It's too late in the day for a thread, but a quick one nonetheless, about the above 👆. I remember when I first started covering politics, I learned that there was a kind of structure to the left, in terms of policy thinking.

2. At the front there are advocates & activists, deliver the sort of slogan version. At the back there are serious scholars -- academics & think-tank types who do the studies, know the history, & can deliver the full-meal-deal version.

3. And increasingly (thanks in no small part to the efforts of Wonkblog/Vox founder Ezra Klein) there's a kind of middle tier of, for lack of a better term, explainers -- deeper in the weeds than the activists, but still aimed at the popular public, unlike the true nerds.

4. The main point being, if you encounter a slogan from a leftie, say, "Medicare for All," you can be relatively confident that, somewhere, someone has written the 200-page, heavily footnoted version of it. There is depth behind the slogan, thinkers behind the activists.

5. When I started paying attention to & covering politics, for the longest time, I assumed the same was true of the right (in part because I, like many noobs, was gripped by the background assumption that the sides are symmetrical). Yeah, their slogans were super-dumb, but ...

6. ... surely, somewhere, behind the scenes, some conservative in a think tank or something had written the intellectually creditable version. I really, really believed this. It took a long time for me to let it go. But the fact is, the intellectual underpinnings of the right...

7. ... have almost entirely crumbled. Over the last several decades, hackery has taken over the entire apparatus. The academics are hacks, the think tank folks are hacks, the media is hacks, even the president -- they're all the *same kind of hack*, echoing the same slogans.

8. It's slogans all the way down now. There are still a few serious scholars/researchers floating around on that side, but they're not needed. There's no demand for their services any more. Ben Shapiro is the level of "thinker" they want/need.

9. Thus (to return to the beginning of the thread), when the hacks at EPA want to cast doubt on a climate assessment from gov't scientists, they cite ... the hacks at the Daily Caller. That's all there is!

10. Think about it. The EPA administrator has access to anyone -- he could call on any scientist in the world. If there are smart people writing serious critiques of NCA4, he could find them. If the right had a coherent, developed alternative to mainstream climate science ...

11. ... that would be the place to invoke it! But instead it's glib, contextless factoids from the Daily friggin' Caller. And I bet nobody at EPA leadership thought anything of it. It's all tribal epistemology now, their side & our side. The notion that some people ...

12. ... are objectively more credible than others just seems to have faded out entirely. The right has been flattened, homogenized into one big sea of Fox dittoheads -- *even at the highest levels of government*.

13. If you're like me, you probably can't help thinking that there must be more to it, something deeper than Ben Shapiros. But I've looked, and if there is, they're keeping it well under wraps. I'm afraid it's Shapiros all the way down. </fin>

You can follow @drvox.


Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.

Since you’re here...

... we’re asking visitors like you to make a contribution to support this independent project. In these uncertain times, access to information is vital. Threader gets 1,000,000+ visits a month and our iOS Twitter client was featured as an App of the Day by Apple. Your financial support will help two developers to keep working on this app. Everyone’s contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support Threader by becoming premium or by donating on PayPal. Thank you.

Follow Threader