Conservative pundit Erick Erickson doesn’t like me. This morning he wrote 900 words about why.
But the main thing his post reveals is what’s wrong with Erickson – and with a Republican party that is built to appeal to people like Erickson.
He starts by noting that I am “a late 20-something gay male.” I’m not sure why my sexual orientation is mentioned right at the top of his hit piece on me, following only my age. (Just kidding; I know exactly why Erickson mentioned this so early.) But at least this statement, unlike some that follow it, has the virtue of being correct.
For example, Erickson says I support “the tax hikes that come with Obamacare.” That’s not true; I wrote last July that Obamacare “should have been financed with efficient, broad-based taxes instead of singling out the wealthiest Americans.” He goes on to complain that I have “worked no campaigns.” That is not only false but contradicted by the same Atlantic profile that prompted Erickson to whine about me.
He even almost got my name wrong. Erickson writes that he drafted the post referring to me as “John Barro,” as he has done in the past on Twitter, until a friend corrected him.
Some of what Erickson says about me is true. I have never “answered to a constituency” as he did during his partial term as a member of the Macon City Council, which he resigned after missing 13 of 27 council meetings and 16 of 19 council work sessions in 2010. Like most Real Americans, Erickson had a poor attendance record because of his busy schedule of media appearances.
But the bulk of the piece isn’t even really about me; it’s about Erickson’s resentment of New York- and Washington-based “elites.” He says our location makes it harder to “connect to the real world,” as though New York and Washington were not real places populated by real people.
And for two decades, the Republican party’s strategy to overcome its disadvantage on economic issues has been a cultural appeal to people like Erickson: non-urban whites who feel threatened by social change. That is, the kind of people who think it’s an alarming trend that women are financially independent, or who think the most salient fact about a writer they dislike might be his sexual orientation.
This is a strategic problem for Republicans for several reasons. One is that the party’s reliance on a resentment-based appeal has caused its policy apparatus to atrophy. Erickson is not alone among conservatives in thinking that “academic and technocratic” approaches are best left to pointy-headed liberals. Another is that people like Erickson are a declining share of the electorate.
Basically, Erickson is derpy. And Erickson has big appeal to conservatives because lots of them are derpy. But the country is getting less derpy, and in time the Republican party will have to get less derpy, too. That’s my project, and I don’t expect Erickson to like it.
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