A few weeks ago, a conservative writer at Breitbart, John Nolte, wrote that the liberals are trying to kill conservatives by pushing COVID vaccines. He reasons that liberals know that conservatives will reject anything liberals support, so by encouraging vaccinations, liberals are keeping conservatives from getting vaccinated and thereby killing them COVID. It’s hilarious reasoning because the writer admits two things: conservatives are united less around principles and more around opposition to liberals and, two, conservatives really are stupid enough to own the libs by dying. 

Nolte’s argument reminds me that back in 2016, conservatives kept blaming liberals for Trump. They reasoned that if liberals didn’t believe what they believed then conservatives wouldn’t have rallied around Trump. If progressives would quit pushing for immigration reform, equality, and an honest reckoning of history, then conservatives would not feel the need to rally around a racist and xenophobic demagogue.  

On a related note, “they were lied to” is the new “mistakes were made.” I’ve read several conservative writers who want to blame Trump alone for the militaristic, anti-democratic movement that has taken over the Republican Party and usurped the traditional conservatives of the Reagan Revolution. They excuse the behavior of rank and file Republicans who believe the election was stolen, that the pandemic is a hoax, that vaccines are dangerous, and a host of other fallacies by blaming the nefarious “them” without laying responsibility on any individuals other than Trump and fringe personalities like Alex Jones. 

In reality, the lies are still being perpetrated by a conservative media that has become mainstream for too many Americans. The silence of conservatives who ignored a growing populist movement and made excuses for the racists and xenophobes in their ranks empowered these liars and contributed to the rise of Trumpism. Their continued silence gives validity to the lies that are radicalizing the right and threatening the country.

All of it boils down to accountability. The party that once placed personal responsibility at the center of its ideology cannot take collective responsibility for its moral and ideological failings. Put another way, if nobody is responsible, nobody is to blame. Instead of looking inward, they can only look outward. But the threat comes from within.

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