Billionaire and maybe-Twitter purchaser Elon Musk certain loves memes. Sometimes they make sense, generally 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! perspective is a fairly widespread trope amongst center-right varieties, but it surely’s merely not true. While maybe comforting, there’s loads of empirical proof to refute the core declare.
Obviously, political whims shift over time, and events might flip-flop on particular person points. But broadly talking, the fitting has been shifting to the extremes for many years. Can you think about the trendy mainstream Republican response to President Richard Nixon’s choice to create a model new federal company to guard the surroundings? Or how about President Ronald Reagan’s choice 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?
Look at how shortly the Republican Party turned in opposition to 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? Well, they’ve positively moved to the left on just a few key points. For occasion, 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. (Meanwhile Republicans like DeSantis have just 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 replicate this stance. For all of the thought items discussing whether or not cities ought to “defund the police,” metropolis officers in each crimson and blue states are as soon as once more pouring cash into legislation enforcement. Elected Democrats nonetheless are typically fairly reasonable on most points — particularly when in comparison with “leftist” positions overseas.
To take one other instance, whereas different nations 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 sometimes held by Democrats that get labeled by the press as “extreme” or “leftist” — akin to bans on high-capacity firearm magazines, common background checks on gun purchases, assist for LGBTQ rights and taxing the ultra-rich — aren’t really that excessive. These insurance policies are typically fairly common with most of the people, which is one thing you’ll be able to’t precisely say about Republicans and their campaign to ban books, limit abortion rights and assault LGBTQ individuals.
Perhaps, as others akin to The Washington Post’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 the lens of the tradition wars.
And usually talking, it is smart that having curated a media food regimen heavy on the misinformation peddled by Fox News and co. or surrounding your self with pundits screaming about how trans individuals are supposedly ruining every part good on the planet might warp your perspective. If you spent the summer season of 2020 being inundated by Fox News footage of Black Lives Matter protests, you would possibly genuinely suppose that the left is uncontrolled. This notion, nonetheless, merely doesn’t match actuality.
It’s not unusual for individuals 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 really 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 Project, an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention group, as a part of the continuing right-wing smear marketing campaign focusing on LGBTQ adults and youngsters — that’s extra worrying. After all, Musk is more likely to quickly management Twitter, a instrument which, for all its faults, nonetheless wields energy.
If, as Musk has said, he desires to have a “politically neutral” platform, which he defines as “upsetting the far right and the far left equally” (that’s not what “politically neutral” really means), and he believes that Twitter has a bias that favors the left, as one other meme he just lately shared baselessly suggested, we should 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 referred to as on Musk to type 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” discuss, Musk certain 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 plenty of questions on what Twitter will appear like beneath Musk’s management, but when his memes are to be believed, it might not be very “neutral” in any respect.