Alex Massie

Republican Ressentiment

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Julian Sanchez has some fun with the GOP's Quest for Victimhood:

Conservatism is a political philosophy; the farce currently performing under that marquee is an inferiority complex in political philosophy drag. Sure, there’s an element of “schadenfreude” in the sense of “we like what annoys our enemies.” But the pathology of the current conservative movement is more specific and  convoluted.  Palin irritates the left, but so would lots of vocal conservatives if they were equally prominent—and some of them are probably even competent to hold office. Palin gets to play sand in the clam precisely because she so obviously isn’t. She doesn’t just irritate liberals in some generic way: she evokes their contempt. Forget “Christian conservative”; she’s a Christ conservative, strung up on the media cross on behalf of all God’s right-wing children

[...] To see how difference between ressentiment and simple schadenfreude matters, consider Palin one more time.  If the goal is just to antagonize liberals, making her the Republican standard-bearer seems tactically bizarre, since ideally you want someone who isn’t so repugnant to independents as to be unelectable. If the animating force is ressentiment,  the leader has to be a loser to really deserve the role. Which is to say, expect the craziness to get worse before it gets better. Now, clearly, this doesn't apply to Republicans such as Mitch Daniels in Indiana. (Or most of the other governors in fact.) But as a summary of the state of conservative-leaning media and the movement's "leadership" it's not bad at all.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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