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November 09, 2004

Who's Mainstream? Who Only Thinks They're Mainstream?

Hobgoblin notes: Let's face reality: Dmocrats simply cannot accept that people think they're wrong.

I've been meaning to post on this idea.

The fact is that it's very important for liberals to think of themselves as "mainstream" and as part of the dominant mode of political thought. Their belief that they are mainstream is reinforced, powerfully, by the liberal "mainstream" media, which tells them how right they are every day.

In fact, the mainstream (ahem) media uses this belief of its centrism to justify its clear political bias. We're not liberally biased, they claim. We have a natural bias to reflect the dominant political thought in the country; of course we cover that dominant political though more than fringe thought. How else could we report?

When this faith in their mainstream status is shaken, they get a little pissy.

I don't know how it is for the rest of you. Some of you live in Red States, so maybe you actually have the feeling you're part of the majority mode of thought in the country. Maybe that's why so many of you were bullish on Bush's chances.

As a Reddish-Purple inhabitant of a very blue state's very bluest city, however, I always feel like a minority. I don't expect people to agree with me. And I don't make arguments based on the notion that my thoughts are "centrist," because I rarey feel that they are.

So this idea of being "mainstream" isn't central to me. It's kinda alien. I don't express shock when I meet liberals. I express shock when I meet conservatives; I just can't believe my good fortune.

But liberals really do have this idea that they're in the very center of American politics; to their left are hardcore Naderite/Chomskyite leftists (about 1/3 of the country, they figure) and to their right are hard-core fascist Republicans like Chris Shays, and beyond that, the real wack-a-loons who vote for Bush (sadly, they figure this too is about 1/3 of the country).

They seem perpetually shocked to realize, again and again, that they are the smaller plurality in America.

I'm never really shocked by finding out the public doesn't agree with me. I'm occasionally bothered by it -- didn't everyone else agree that Bill Clinton was just a, well, a dick? -- but I'm never surprised. It's what I kinda expect.

I think liberals would do themselves a favor, just on the level of psychological comfort, to get used to the idea that they're neither majority nor mainstream.

It's not a bad thing thinking of oneself as the perpetual outsider. For one thing, you get to pose as the rebel, even though you're actually kinda-sorta an establishment-lovin' authoritarian statist.

Which is cool.

I gotta figure there's more money in that, anyway. You know what a real rebel makes? Bupkis.

Correction: Ron says it's "bupkis," not "bubkis," and I believe him. Sort of.

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posted by Ace at 05:25 PM

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