The most outrageous realization we can come to is one where we recognize the pundit class has bastardized the conservative movement into a for profit scheme.
Modern conservative talking heads generally ignore the absence of their influence in the beginnings of the Reagan revolution. If Reagan had a platform beyond the ordinary voters who voted overwhelmingly for him, it was the intellectual conservative revolution that preceded his candidacy and influenced his evolution from disenchanted Democrat to Neoliberal Republican, and not the myriad of talk radio, fox news opinion, and foaming at the mouth pundits that so many feel are indispensable to the movement today. The movement that started with common sense application of foundational American principles towards modern problems and the successful use of deterrent foreign policy to free the world from the threat of aggressive communist expansion has unfortunately devolved into a populist reactionary quagmire of personality cults and misguided cultural warriors. If conservatism has lost its soul, it’s because when asked, most self-identified conservatives are quick to cite figures such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity as leading thinkers and communicators of conservative thought, but few have any idea who William Buckley or Irving Kristol are (or worse, they know exactly who they are, but marginalize their influence and intellectual authority as irrelevant warmongering neoconservatism).
With my opinion of political pundits being thus, I am shedding no tears over the end of the O’Reilly factor and the lost influence of other pundits who were revealed in 2016 as little more than partisan actors pushing their chosen narrative. Victory, and ratings, proved to be far more important goals then such meaningless ideas as intellectual honesty or ideological consistency (Indeed, for eight years we stood convinced that Barack Obama not only played the fairway but slept on the green, and now mums the word on Donald Trump’s golf habits).
But, perhaps the most outrageous realization we can come to is one where we recognize the pundit class has bastardized the conservative movement into a for profit scheme, rousing our passions in political concerns for monetary gain and the acquisition of popular power. They not only incessantly speak at us, but claim to speak for us. With this assertion uncontested, they’ve become the self-appointed intermediaries between we the people and our representatives. They grow fat on the riches gained from telling us what to believe, until we believe it, and then declare themselves the messengers of grassroots sentiment as voiced by their loyal audience.
Now, admittedly, I speak harshly and out of exasperation for the way many of my fellow Americans, on the left and the right, have recently rationalized taking leave of their senses. I concede the presence of many pundits who yet maintain at least some degree of intellectual honesty or ideological consistency (here’s looking at you Ben Shapiro) and others who, while sullied, are appearing to make honest efforts to identify where they went wrong and re-establish their intellectual authority (your morning show has gotten so much more refreshing, Glenn), but there are still several large and influential figures who claim to represent schools of thought and reason but in reality only push manufactured agenda (Imagine if Hannity and Maddow co-hosted the same show, we’d have a one-stop-shop venue for ALL the talking points and shameless spin of each political party).
To summarize my sundry emotions on the passing of the O’Reilly era, I paraphrase in the latin: Sic Semper Sophistes.
But…what do I know, I’m only a history school drop out.
-The Millennial Federalist
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