The ‘righroots’

THE ‘RIGHROOTS’…. The Washington Post ran an interesting, 2,300-word item today on conservative blogs and their future within (alongside?) the Republican Party. As far as leading conservative activists — online and off — are concerned, the right is far behind the left when it comes to online presence, and there’s apparently a renewed push to do something about it.

As that process begins in earnest, I’d encourage them to consider this fine post from Outside the Beltway’s James Joyner. He argued the other day that, despite his conservative beliefs, he finds “most of the best analytical blogs are on the center-left,” and fleshed out his reasoning yesterday.

Part of the reason I’m drawn to the center-left blogs, including those cited above, Kevin Drum, Steve Benen, and others despite disagreeing with them while finding it increasingly difficult to find center-right blogs worth my time is that the former are much more likely to get beyond the debates of the 1980 election. There’s almost no serious analysis of health care reform, urban planning, education, and many other issues that regularly crop up on the best lefty blogs on their conservative counterparts. If we read about those issues at all, they’re framed as if Ronald Reagan were still aspiring to high office: Say No to socialism! Abolish the Department of Education! Government IS the problem!

While traditionalist grand theory is still valuable and worth discussion, it doesn’t work as a blanket response to micro-level issues. And defining conservatism solely by “What would Reagan do?” is a political non-starter in a world that simply looks much different than in did twenty-eight years ago. It would be as if Reagan constantly droned on about the evils of Harry Truman. Time marches on. Debates must, too, in order to be interesting.

So, where are the right-of-center counterparts to Yglesias, Klein, and company?

I’ve long wondered the same thing. For more than two years, I was the editor for Salon’ “Blog Report,” featuring posts from the left and right. It led me to read dozens of conservative blogs every day, and I quickly realized that when it came to depth and seriousness of thought, the two sides weren’t close. (James Joyner, who is both thoughtful and knowledgeable, is a noticeable exception.)

Indeed, to help drive the point home, earlier this year, Erick Erickson, RedState’s editor, acknowledged that the “netroots” have an advantage over the “rightroots,” but attributed it to an asymmetry in free time, since conservatives “have families because we don’t abort our kids, and we have jobs because we believe in capitalism.”

This is largely the kind of thinking that dominates on conservative blogs. They can’t quite get to policy disputes or serious analysis, because they’re too busy mulling over the implications of liberals joining forces with Islamofascists, the United Nations, and Mexican immigrants to execute some kind of nefarious plot.

Worse, Kevin noted that when these blogs do consider key policies, such as global warming and growing income inequality, they tend to believe the problems don’t exist.

“Global warming and skyrocketing income inequality are problems that didn’t even exist in 1980, which means there is no ‘Reaganite’ solution to appeal to,” Kevin concluded. “There might still be conservative takes on these things, but they won’t do any good until conservatives actually accept that these are real problems that people genuinely care about. That day still seems pretty far off.”

Republican Party leaders are anxious to take advantage of conservative blogs’ dynamism as part of the rehabilitation of the GOP. Maybe these folks should crawl before they walk?