Yesterday, Robert Mariani at the Daily Caller was kind enough to publish my new op-ed about the alternative right.
I went through a couple separate drafts over the weekend. The first one was complicated, intellectual, pessimistic, and didn’t get to the point within the word limit. The thesis was that there is actually no feasible democratic ‘alternative’ to continued progressive domination of every relevant political, economic, and cultural institution in the US.
The case was a reiteration of Jim’s that the only real alternative is likely to be in the conservative media, which is, by and large, just a big sponge to absorb right wing discontent. That post may show up in a finished form at some point in the future.
This will be a bit of a personal post: it was interesting to see the difference in publishing to a top 10 conservative website as compared to publishing for a small audience of fellow travelers.
My goal with this particular article was to explain in an entertaining way how the alt right came to become significant enough for a presidential candidate’s speechwriter to take notice of.
The idea was not to become a standard-bearer for the alternative right — which I have my differences with. Plenty of more orthodox radicals have called me out on my many deviations, of which I am 150% guilty as charged. Unlike most people on the right, even when I have had differences with people considered to be on the fringe, I haven’t just pretended that they don’t exist. If I want to persuade someone who doesn’t agree with me, I try to reach them directly.
The reason why many conservatives feel that the political situation has gotten out of control for them is because they just tend to pretend people who don’t agree with them don’t exist, even when those people wind up outnumbering the people that actually follow them.
Many ordinary conservative writers just say “LA LA LA LA LA, I CAN’T HEAR YOU” and do another segment about Benghazi while their readers, voters, and viewers abandon them because they’re no longer relevant.
Anyway, the main difference in writing for a larger publication is that the feedback you receive through social media is like one long SCREEEEEECH in which people from all sides nitpick you.
It, oddly enough, made me respect pundits.
I understand now why people just publish inoffensive porridge all the time. It’s less annoying. You keep your job. No one cares. You get to pay your mortgage and not worry about anything other than whether or not there’s anything good on Netflix tonight. You make your money selling pillows to people. I understand. I sell random crap to people all day too on the other side of things.
But being like Howard Stern, Marilyn Manson, Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, Ayn Rand, Jon Stewart, or other successful media figures — maximally offensive, constantly trying to rile people up — is just what you need to do in order to succeed in the business, because people don’t really care all that much about what you actually write — they just care about you beating up on the people that they hate.
The other interesting thing about publishing in the Daily Caller was that the people who absolutely hated it and spent hours dissecting it responded almost instantaneously. It took some amount of time before positive comments started to pile in.
People both accused me of being a Nazi and being insufficiently respectful of Hitler’s record in the same timeline. That’s sort of to be expected when you try to be a neutral arbiter when neither side wants arbitration. Part of the problem with social media is that it just grants free access to dipshits for to your attention, which normally costs money. Even a lot of money. Social media companies ask you to sell your attention for free to crazy people so that their executives and coders can afford their shitty Bay Area apartments. It’s not a good deal for the users and it’s a terrible deal for the advertisers who can get a better return elsewhere.
Another interesting aspect is that it resulted in no significant traffic whatsoever to this site. It generated over 25,000 useless Twitter impressions.
When I updated this blog daily, I generated about 1,500-2,500 impressions with over 1,000 monthly unique visitors for a sustained period. It does take a day for metrics to settle — and I’m sure that it would require repeated columns on a bunch of different sites to have much of an impact — but that was a bit disappointing despite the splash on social media.
In any case, it was a bit of a thrill, and I’d probably do something like it again at some point. I think I enjoy writing for a friendly audience much better, but it might be more impactful to bear all the slings and arrows on behalf of the friendly folk. These are hard trade-offs to make, because one way to spend my time feeds the humans and animals that I’m responsible for, and the other is just entertaining for internet people to either rage about or claim as their own.
One use of time puts the people I’m responsible for at risk for no tangible reward whatsoever apart from throwing a stone out of spite at the people who would jeopardize their future, and the other (just spending more time working and minding my own business) is more immediately useful.