Monsters do not see themselves as monsters. Adolf Hitler did not see himself as a monster. He was a man of the people, protecting the Germans. Mao Zedong did what had to be done to fight off the capitalists. He was no monster. To monsters, others are monsters.
Progressives see supporters of former President Donald Trump as monsters. His supporters are insurrectionist racists who jeopardize the Constitution — monsters, all of them, and a threat to democracy as well. Progressives and most of the Democratic Party and media have internalized that Republicans are a rising authoritarian party that, if returned to power, could put Trump in a position to never leave office again. Caesar always crosses the Rubicon.
In this, Republicans have a secret weapon against the progressives — the media. Democrats and so much of the mainstream media all occupy the same geographic and intellectual space. Most of the broadcast and print media empires inhabit a geographic space closer to the ocean than the Mississippi and an intellectual space closer to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez than Sen. Susan Collins.
Because the bulk of the press and the Democrats inhabit the same space, they miss major conversations that happen outside their enclaves. Parents are seething about their kids’ schools. The parents have spent a year at home hearing about their children’s teachers running progressive indoctrination camps and abandoning sound education. The school boards have sided with the teachers unions. The Biden administration has decided parents are domestic terrorists. With no competing information, it has been easy for the press and the Left to convince each other parental concerns about education are right-wing talking points. They have convinced themselves criticism of “critical race theory” is a racist dog whistle. In short, the press and Democrats have convinced each other that their concerns are the only concerns; their monsters are everyone’s monsters; and anyone who disagrees is one of those monsters.
They never really saw election night coming. Republicans had a banner night, leaving Democrats and the press stunned — largely because neither group had bothered to listen to anyone outside their group. They really could believe what they believed because they have shut out all the competing voices. They abhor Fox News. Talk radio is anathema. Republicans are monsters and monsters must be slayed, not heard, and never obeyed. Ironically, Fox News inhabits the same geographic space, but programmatically works to get outside the Left’s intellectual space. Fox News is the pariah of news networks, but any viewer of Fox News was not surprised by the 2021 election results nationwide.
Unfortunately, all of this presents a problem.
Progressives and the press have internalized the GOP are monsters. The GOP is a mob of racist, transphobic, homophobic, insurrectionist monsters who threaten the republic. Progressives and the press together also epistemically believe the world has less than 10 years to act to save the planet. If action is not taken, the world will fall off a precipice of climate instability. But the politicians in Washington will not act. The Republicans and a handful of recalcitrant Democrats have used the filibuster and their own clout to stop meaningful action to save the planet.
In the past two months, progressive writers at The New York Times and the New Yorker have favorably reviewed a book that advocates environmental terrorism in the name of the greater good. Andreas Malm’s “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” suggests environmentalists take matters into their own hands because the monsters are blocking progress. It has gone mainstream on the Left.
Progressives have internalized that the GOP must be stopped, and that climate change must be stopped. Voters disagree and all signs point to a resurgent Republican Party in the midterms. Given the Left’s epistemic beliefs, it is not a far step at all to think that they might decide they must slay the monsters.
They are not, after all, the monsters. The people they hate are the monsters. The Left, the press tells them, are on the side of righteousness against the monsters who will end the republic and tip the planet into a climate spiral. Progressives will tell themselves they are slaying monsters, so anything, including violence, is justified. Much of the press will agree.
We head to dark times and uncharted waters.