Conservative Voters, the GOP, and the Conservative Media

As the midterm elections approach, conservative media figures are laboring indefatigably to convince their constituents previous elections these same figures swore were the most important of their lifetime are as nothing compared to the most important election of their lifetime that will transpire in November, i.e. The Most Important of All of the Most Important Elections of Our Lifetime(s).

Or something like this.

In other words, unless and until their audience votes Republican, the country promises to spiral that much further into the abyss that, to judge from the words of the scribblers and talking heads, is already engulfing them.


That the Democrats, to say nothing of the overall Left, are guilty of visiting immeasurable suffering of all kinds among countless numbers of human beings both here and abroad is axiomatic to anyone who has but eyes to see. Yet this is hardly a recent turn of events. For several decades, tens of millions of Americans have been following the prescription—the categorical imperative—of conservative media personalities to always vote Republican.

Yet here we are.

Can anyone seriously doubt that the very disease to which the Right presents itself as an antidote, far from retreating, has actually metastasized? At the very least, this is the only conclusion we can draw from the incessant pearl-clutching of precisely those people who have been promising us for years that to save the country, we must vote Republican. To keep the sense of urgency always alive, conservative media personalities as well as GOP politicians constantly inundate their constituents with horror stories of outrages regarding those whom they’ve been telling us since forever we must defeat by . . . voting Republican.

The fear porn, though undoubtedly designed to usher in a red tsunami, would actually reveal the impotence of the Republican Party and the conservative movement if only their constituents would employ the same reasoning that they regularly use in sorting out the nit and grit of their daily lives, i.e. when they aren’t indulging the luxury of getting swept up in the sportive spirit of American politics. 

If they slowed down just long enough to snap themselves out of the trance into which their steady diet of political media consumption has led them, they’d recognize that the outrages and the incessant complaining over these outrages that are the bread and butter of the conservative media machine and that are meant to mobilize support for the GOP actually belie the case for that support. “We’ve been voting Republican for years,” conservative voters would remind themselves, “and even winning no small share of elections.”

“And yet,” they would conclude, “things continue to get worse and worse—as the conservative media and GOP politicians daily remind us.”

Far from galvanizing conservatives, the purveyors of the doom and gloom that is the daily fare of conservative media would learn fast (once their ratings and circulation nose-dived) that their endless supply of Democratic victories, and equally endless supply of Republican losses, destroyed the morale of their customers as it became self-evident that the GOP is the party of losers, liars, and weaklings.

Conservative voters may even begin to question whether the Republican Party, like the proverbial tree in the forest that the metaphysical idealist insists ceases to exist when it isn’t perceived, vanishes altogether when it ceases to be a majority. Millions upon millions of Americans voted for Republicans. Consequently, Republicans are hardly a tiny minority in Congress, and they still occupy most gubernatorial offices around the country.

And yet their base is led to believe that those for whom they voted are utterly powerless to prevent Democrats from doing anything and everything they wish.

This is a betrayal, for none of these same Republicans and none of the conservative influencers who advocated for them ever disclosed that a vote for a Republican would be wasted unless and until his or her party had majority control of the Congress.

For that matter, if the political junkies who are regular consumers of conservative media emancipated themselves, even briefly, from the hypnotic spell cast upon them by the Svengalis of the conservative movement, then they would know that there’s a critical disclaimer that GOP politicians and their media polemicists are failing to disclose in these weeks leading up to the midterm elections of 2022. Republican voters would know that as radio talk show and Fox News hosts (among others) promote GOP candidates on the grounds that “we must take back the Congress,” they withhold the qualifier that they won’t hesitate to add the moment that Republicans achieve victory.

It is then and ever after until 2024 that the very politicians and conservative media personalities who tirelessly told them that they had to vote for GOP candidates in the Most Important Election of our Lifetime of 2022 will castigate the same voters for now expecting their candidates to actually do something.

After all, they’ll be told, the Republicans who assured us that they were the answer to stopping the Democrats don’t yet have the presidency.

So, they can’t do anything.

If conservative voters chose to exercise their reason (and memory), this movie would be all too familiar to themt. This is the standard operating procedure, not just of the Republican Party, but of the Big Conservative media apparatus that is in bed with it.

Hell, even when the Republicans control the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, conservative voters still don’t get any bang for their buck. Somehow, the Democrats, both politicians and their fellow partisans who propagandize for them in the media, are still able to thwart the GOP’s agenda. Or so these are the kinds of excuses to which conservative voters are regularly subjected.

And to which they will be subjected again. And again. And again.

If conservative voters snapped out of it, they would think to ask Republican candidates to specify what it is they plan upon doing if they are elected, and how they will ensure that their plans are successfully executed. Since conservative media influencers regularly communicate with these candidates and feature them in their venues, audience members could request that their question be passed along.

If conservative voters snapped out of it, they’d realize just how revealing it is that the agents of the conservative media don’t themselves think to ask this question! One would think that it’s pretty rudimentary. Can anyone reading this recall the last time that they heard, say, Sean Hannity ask any of the Republican candidates whom he has as guests on his radio and television shows what precisely it is they will accomplish, even if they don’t reclaim the Senate and even though they will not have the presidency?

At the end of the day, even if individual Republicans lose, at least two things are certain:

First, Republican incumbents will not only remain well-off, but have an easier job at that as they and their party’s media apologists perpetuate the fiction that because the GOP is not in the majority, they haven’t any power and can’t be blamed for the havoc wreaked by the Democrats. At the same time, incumbents can count upon the conservative media to exploit that damage to whip up more support for them in the future.

Second, conservative media stars will see their already massive fortunes soar as they exacerbate the very anxieties of their constituents that lead voters to turn to conservative media in the first place. With Democrats at the helm, business will never be better.

There is, however, a third certitude: Conservative voters will have invested their resources, their emotional and psychological energy worrying and arguing for their candidates, as well as their money in donating to them. But they will receive no return on their investment. Moreover, they can almost certainly rely upon at least some of these candidates, at some juncture in the future, allying with Democrats and spitting in the collective face of the very people with whom they once sought to curry favor.

Then again, the plight of conservative voters is the same whether Republicans lose or win.

This too they would realize if only they were as rational in political life as they are in other aspects of their lives.  

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About Jack Kerwick

Jack Kerwick earned his doctorate degree in philosophy from Temple University. His areas of specialization are ethics and political philosophy, with a particular interest in classical conservatism. His work has appeared in both scholarly journals and popular publications, and he recently authored, The American Offensive: Dispatches from the Front. Kerwick has been teaching philosophy for nearly 17 years at a variety of institutions, from Baylor to Temple, Penn State University, the College of New Jersey and elsewhere. His next book, Misguided Guardians: The Conservative Case Against Neoconservatism is pending publication. He is currently an instructor of philosophy at Rowan College at Burlington County.

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