Conservative Incoherence, by Sam Adler-Bell (Dissent)
The conservative response to COVID-19 has been defined by its heterogeneity: a blur of contradictory recriminations, confirmation biases, and conspiracy peddling.
… All told, there has been no coherent response to the COVID crisis from the right. But when it comes to conservative ideology, incoherence is a feature, not a bug. Where liberals fantasize that precedent and logic are binding forces in our political life—that there exists some epistemological authority that will arbitrate facts and fiction, punish those who’ve contradicted themselves, and reward those who have not—conservatives have long since abandoned such notions. Reactionary thought, as Corey Robin has argued, is dynamic and mutable by nature, responsive to minute changes in the political weather, sensitive to every threat to order and hierarchy, primed to spring into action to meet the discursive necessities of the moment.
Like many, I experienced acute frustration at Trump’s tweets in support of protests to “liberate” states from the onerous lockdowns he and his medical advisers have counseled. But it doesn’t matter. Contradiction is no obstacle. There is no New York Times bombshell or Mueller indictment or impeachment article coming to right the wrongs of Trump’s hypocrisy, no scorekeeper, no manager. There is only power, those who wield it, and those who are subject to it. This, at least, our gun-toting libertarian friends in Michigan understand. It will take wielding our own sort of power to escape this crisis with our communities intact and safe. What form that power could take, I don’t yet know …