politics, Putin, Russia, Ukraine, War, Zelensky

How Zelensky Saved The West

There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen

Vladimir Lenin

I, like many of you, were immediately unnerved by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The geopolitical (and frankly, nuclear) implications alone were enough to keep you up at night; this is before even talking about the massive humanitarian catastrophe Ukrainians were facing daily. It was tough to handle the news thousands of miles away, let alone as a civilian on the streets of Kyiy.

But while great tribulations come with horrific struggle and brutal tyrants, they also come with heroes and grand ideals worth fighting and dying over. Regardless of whatever else he has done before in his life and – (hopefully) assuming he continues to stay alive – whatever he does after this, Volodymyr Zelensky will now always be remembered for what he did in a single month, doing so in a way essentially unrivaled in human history (due mainly to our modern instantaneous global communications network).

Zelensky single-handedly bitch-slapped the West out of it’s thirty-year cynical downward spiral in such a visceral and consistent fashion – and in such a short time – that there really isn’t a comparison to draw on. Policies and repercussions that were literally unthinkable forty days ago are now in place, permanently. Germany will likely become the world’s third largest military. For once, the sanctions agreed to had real teeth and truly weakened the Russian economy immediately. Small and so-called “third world” countries (typically seen as mere pawns with no autonomy) banded together to collectively punish Russia and organize in ways that had major impacts on the war. NATO, a collection of democracies, has complete unity.

This last point is particularly important. It flies in the place of a sacred tenant of authoritarians: The divisions and self-interests inherent in a representative government will always be trumped in conflict by one man who commands complete obedience.

Throughout the late ’00s and accelerating in the 2010s, various parts of the fringes on both the left and right not only recognized this belief as having merit but more importantly began espousing that this tent was also just. In the mainstream, cynicism had taken hold in not only popular media but in the minds of many voters as well. Fringe and extremist candidates became more appealing as many even in the center across the West lost faith in the founding ideals of liberal democracy and the necessity of freedom.

The Left decried what they believed to be the inherent flaws of the West; it’s only impacts, in their eyes were colonialism, slavery, and subjugation. All of the benefits of the West were more than cancelled out by what they saw as it’s unique evilness, informed by the discredited New Left historians of a half century ago, hemmed in by a euro-centric and myopic view of humans and freedom. The anti-Western ideologies began to grow in academia and the white Left. They successfully used justified concern over climate change and income inequality to exploit these concerns and inject a very specific strain of anti-Americanism that saw the country and it ideals as only important for the monied and the connected. The legitimate outrage over the stratification of American society gave way to a legion of candidates and figures (many of them earnest and well intentioned to be fair) that saw the decline of the power and the influence of the West – and specifically the ideals of the West – as not only inevitable but a good thing.

At the same time, the far-right was going through a parallel transformation that is strikingly similar to the changes that occurred on the left. Rather than the West being evil for it’s periods of subjugation and oppression, it was depraved and rotten. Those in this camp on the right simultaneously rallied around ultra-patriotic yet deeply anti-American and anti-Western sentiments. The West had decayed, in their view, from the influence and tolerance of Western media and it’s acceptance of certain progressive values, often (incorrectly) citing this was indicating the societies had drifted from it’s initial intent. As one will find out with interacting with these groups, however, what they believe that “intent” was, it somehow always lines up with what their chosen leader would prefer be done. Many of these types are fans of Putin, and for obvious reasons: they respect superficial strength over genuine ability, they are boisterous yet generally untested, and wish for a simple black-and-white world where might makes right. These types made stunning gains in the conservative movement, and only now are being pushed out in any concerted effort.

All of this is written to say, Zelensky provides the cure to the intellectual poisons of the fringes. Instead of cynicism, there is passion and cause. For once, we have an actual battle of good vs. evil, of a man leading a nation that has for all intents and purposes been beating the shit out of a major nuclear power fueled by their love of freedom and the ideals of the West. In a way we have not seen since the Cold War, there is not only a renewed sense that liberal democracy is still the best form of governance and path to liberty for all peoples – despite its flaws – but there is a resolve. A true cause to rally around. And we have found it, and the man who in so few days changed the world in a way few is to thank for it.

As for the authoritarian tenant I mentioned above, my personal retort has always been the same: The power of one man exerting total command over a people is only effective when the people being ruled believe in the same cause. As we are seeing in Russia, this is the fatal flaw of authoritarians the world over. While a liberal democracy is messy, scandalous, and often a gridlocked mess, it is still the people’s. And that deserves protecting, as the brave men and women of Ukraine prove every day.

The West has been changed, irreparably and in ways vital to it’s survival. We can thank God, and Zelensky, for that.



Don't Look Up, movies, politics

Don’t Look Up Summarizes Our Current Plight – Just Not In The Way Commonly Thought

Last weekend (Happy New Year’s by the way!) my girlfriend happened to be watching the movie du jour Don’t Look Up while I was enjoying the opportunity to be obnoxiously lazy. As with most latter-day Adam McKay movies, it was two things: 1) Proof that the McKay Formula is still funny 2) Proof that the McKay Formula will never change, for better or worse.

But regardless – I’m not here to give movie reviews (no one wants to be Moviebob) – what I found interesting is how this movie showcased some serious issues our society faces – just not the one that the usual suspects focused on. What this film really exposed, both through it’s central message as well as it’s flaws, was to shine a light on what truly is the plague of our modern society: the lack of critical thinking or even a slight fucking sense of nuance by those who drive our policy and our collective narratives has not only led to many of current problems, but is fed in a negative feedback loop that is also a product of modern society.

The sad fact of modern society, specifically in America, is that those who succeed and prosper in our current political world are the loudest voices. Through a multitude of factors ranging from the prevalence of social media literally tailored to promote the extreme opinions to the rise in power of small donor donations fueled generally by the most radical elements of both parties to the rise of a British-style partisan tabloid news media focused on opinion over fact, those who represent the true intention of the public are not just not crowded out but run out. Call it Cancel Culture for the Left or Forced Trump Worship on the Right, but the same phenomenon exists throughout the political spectrum. Those who have succeeded in this environment have some universal beliefs:

Nuance is the enemy.

Complexity doesn’t matter.

Individual opinion does not matter, they are simply functioning as a member of a particular group or identity.

And – most importantly – the ends always justify the means.

With a media that uses extremely unreliable social media increasingly as a major source, a major feedback loop exists in our current environment where the most far out and shocking opinions are presented consistently as face. This doesn’t just lead to partisans on a certain side accepting completely untrue narratives are truth, but more importantly leads to these partisans believing most of their opponents are in fact supporters of their own side’s extremist ideals, contributing heavily to bad faith politicking and blatantly lying to succeed. Other electeds and influential individuals begin to believe their choices are between two extreme options, choosing the one closest to their ideology as to avoid backlash from, yes, the loudest folks again.

The problem is the vast majority of the public does not hold extreme opinions in general and generally aren’t as informed on current events as activists (who are naturally the loudest yet conversely the most unreliable arbiters of truth) in our rapid-fire information culture, allowing extremists to dominate and control narratives rather than the much more reasonable, effective, and logical options that are actually representative that is much more moderate and asymmetric than a nationalized media ever assumed.

You are asking – how does this apply to Don’t Look Up? The main message of the film – that the stupidity of the general populace and of elites – is ignoring an imminent catastrophe that will doom humanity – is a flawed premise itself that climate scientists themselves have been arguing against against an alarmist media that, once again, has no room for nuance. While the effects of climate change are real – despite what some crank may try to convince you on Youtube – the world is not ending. While climate emissions have flattened but not declined yet, the worst case scenarios proposed decades ago – that would actually make a case for an existential threat – have thankfully not come to pass. Instead, we face a crisis that can actually be solved (and in many cases actually is) but the apocalyptic narrative given by those with too much influence, too loud of a voice, and too little of an appreciation for complex have not only harmed efforts to combat climate change but led to a mental health crisis as well.

What is this all to say? It comes back to the same question I ask every time and continue to find the answer for. How, in this modern environment, do we make it politically feasible for the moderation and dispassionate insight (supported by the majority of the populace) necessary to solve our most pressing issues? I still don’t have the answer, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up. We must grow bolder, and I will highlight some ways in upcoming posts.




The Center-Right’s Three Decades of Self-Sabotage

While I’ve been very clear about my dislike of ideology as a concept at all for it’s multitude of flaws (and will be the subject of an upcoming post), to completely deny it’s importance and (especially) relevance requires a pretty damn high level of stupid. I use a multitude of terms to describe my views, but I suppose simply using “center-right” would suffice in general.

I bring this up because regardless of what label is applied, those who represent this political philosophy have been the biggest losers of the past two decades, to an almost embarrassing degree. This applies both domestically (United States) and worldwide. The center-right has suffered continual electoral losses and failed to message to an almost laughable degree. Those of you who generally subscribe to a center-right ideological positioning are all too familiar with this slide into near-obscurity. In America, the self-sabotage that plagued the adherents of these belief who were in power began in the `90s and has not abated since.

There is no sugarcoating it: center-right electeds grew to be lazy, complacent, and the worst kind of mushy-mouth centrist, almost to a stereotypical degree. No infrastructure was ever built to sustain a concerted movement outside of general party efforts. Center-right representatives increasingly ignored the wishes of their constituents – especially right-leaning ones – and abandoned their principles easily and frequently. They would preach about fiscal responsibility while simultaneously increasing the deficit to record numbers. They failed to curb big government and were in fact among the most complacent of anyone in this period! They, for all intents and purposes, shit the bed and were content to continue laying in it.

The Tea Party movement was a direct response to conservative disgust at the spinelessness of Republicans who had essentially “sold out” to the status quo. In retrospect, it is not a surprise this occurred. The failures and hypocrisy of center-right Republicans gave birth to the movement that began to eat them alive. And the failures to build any sort of infrastructure in the preceding decades came to bite them in the ass, as when the Tea Party began radicalizing to an unpalatable degree, there was no concerted effort to challenge the insurgents, leaving most electeds to their own devices.

I won’t get into the 2016 primary yet as that deserves a through article of it’s own, but as you can clearly see the seeds that led to Trump, a man of no ideology, to be able to defeat the center-right candidates (how he defeated the more staunchly conservative candidates is also an article that needs to be written someday). Insults like “drain the swamp” were so effective BECAUSE the actions of more moderate members led much of the Republican primary electorate to see the leading candidates as creatures of Washington – regardless of their personal integrity – while these same voters (note I’m referring to the primary voters – not activists) were far more similar to the positions and general philosophy of the more moderate contenders.

And that is the ultimate irony of this saga. Center-right principles, generally framed by principles such as:

  • Adherence to the Constitution and protecting citizens from overreach by the government
  • Deference to individual rights
  • Limited, adaptable governence
  • Egalitarianism
  • Pluralism
  • Commitment to rule of law, while making sure those tasked with enforcing it are held to the same standards.
  • Smart, targeted policy, compromising if it is justifiable

Put some succiently, I think George Washington put the philosophy best: “A government is like fire, a handy servant, but a dangerous master.”

I’m obviously being a bit reductive, but what I’m describing is an identifiable political faction not just in the United States but worldwide. And – at least domestically – any fellow poll-junkie or field worker can attest, these principles in the abstract accurately represent the beliefs of a significant majority of voters. Differences on individual issues aside, the underlying foundation of center-right thought is the most representative of the American electorate.

And the utter humiliation of consistently ceding power is a direct indictment of the previous generation of leadership and the inaction of the current generation. We are all guilty.

So what is to be done? Despite the negative nature of this post, the fact that the principles espoused continue to be so popular without a coherent mouthpiece should give you heart. I will get into my personal remedy in my next post. The battle is just beginning.

As I’ll end most posts, I want to remind those of you of a more moderate, nuanced mindset: even though you feel alone, there are more people who think like you than you can imagine. We have just been too quiet because we feel isolated. That will be changing.




A New Direction

While I haven’t updated this since I’ve started, I’ve had quite a realizations since then.

We are looking, more than over, for a realistic worldview. Throughout most of human history, “realistic” meant much less pessimistic compared to the prevailing wisdom. Only recently – and accelerated by social media – has that dynamic flipped. Being cautiously optimistic is not only frowned upon, but almost non-existent from leading national figures for a least half a decade. Not only does it make good political sense to move into this under-served sector, but I believe morally and practically as well this needs to enter our political conversation.

I will hopefully update soon. This is very therapeutic, if nothing else. Keep your head up and always think critically.



About The New Outsiders – Why Do We Exist?

There is a new anti-establishment fervor growing in the Republican Party, swept under the rug by party leadership but slowly infecting conservative operatives and younger officials within the current structure. As with all outsider movements at their infant stages, most speak quietly (or not at all) about their dissatisfaction with the status quo. This is an attempt to bring this phenomenon out into the open and give support to those who feel alone in the current landscape.

This is the new center-right; we are the new outsiders.

Our dissatisfaction with the party began at different points. For some, the Roy Moore senate shot-in-the-foot was their breaking point, some joined after witnessing their local and state parties become radicalized, a significant amount were simply turned off by Trump and his lack of conviction (conservative or otherwise) beyond personal benefit, and many came to the realization after witnessing first hand the callous embrace by party leaders of 2020 election conspiracies – when most privately acknowledged it was a lie – simply to be use as a grifting method to raise funds.

Some of us supported Trump both years, some changed their minds, and some were Never-Trumpers. But the focus on Trump is part of the problem with the party in general. We not only desire but know electorally the party must move on from their co-dependence on a losing politician (with nebulous ties to conservatism to begin with) before they can regain power. This is a non-starter with the current Republican establishment…but that’s what created an outsider movement like this to begin with.

Unlike the extremists, there is no ideological media to support us, with the current Republican establishment afraid to upset far-right media, alienating untold numbers of potential supporters. Attempting to court the dishonest mainstream, left-leaning media has been the death of many promising center-right campaigns. While center-right candidates are far more likely to win (and to represent their constituent’s conservative values far more effectively), they have no institutional support remaining. Fraudulent organizations like The Lincoln Project, led by over-paid beltway consultants interested in asspats from the left-leaning media, have harmed the center-right cause deeply and created a bad impression overall within the party.

The issues facing a true center-right conservative running for office have been compounding over the years. While the issue with organizing moderates (as opposed to unrepresentative activists) has always been an issue, today there are numerous more obstacles. There are no center-right interest groups of note and no counterbalancing moderate force tolerated within the current party. While our views represent not only the party rank-and-file but American voters overall, we have been out-shouted, out-organized and shouted down with the Republican party for nearly a decade.

We are back, and not going anywhere. The New Outsiders have arrived.