Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Beware the cocoon

Victor Davis Hanson has a top-10 list of lessons from the election. I think #9 is the most important one for conservatives:
9. Beware the Cocoon If one read the Drudge Report, looked at Rasmussen polls, listened to O’Reilly and Hannity on Fox News, and hit the radio talk shows, then it was natural to think that Romney would win with 300 electoral votes. But we all must realize that the country, while center-right, is subjected to a left-center daily barrage.  Next time, we must channel surf NBC and CBS, check on the Huffington Post, follow the left-wing polls, and study Reuters to see what the opposition is doing, planning, and thinking — and react accordingly.  The right-wing media is serving as an alternative to the bias of the mainstream news, but also as a sort of religious outlet where the depressed and pessimistic can find some shred of hope in a bleak world — understandable but not always empirical.  I thought Romney might win by one point given the RCP poll averages, but I wanted to believe, but just could not, what Dick Morris preached in the evenings. We think the first-time-sex-is-like-voting-for-Obama ad stupid; and the black garbage collector’s whine that Romney did not come out for coffee and chat on each delivery silly. Most voters, however, apparently found them “compelling.” Take in a Castor Oil’s dose of Chris Matthews or Andrea Mitchell for 30 seconds to learn why.
Me: Before I get on my high horse about this, I want to acknowledge that my own electoral forecasting was not much different from Hanson's. I thought Romney might win by a small margin, and never believed in a Romney landslide. In retrospect, I still think I had something of a point in predicting, well before the debates, that the debates would help Romney, but I was also overly beholden to my own analysis, such that I resisted abandoning it when the evidence mounted that the debates had not helped Romney enough to actually win the election. And watching conservatives forecast a landslide bolstered my resistance. So I'm not immune to cocooning, even though I try quite hard to get information from a broad range of sources.

Having said all that, it's worth emphasizing that conservatives (and libertarians and center-right people like myself) can, should and must immerse themselves in varied and opposing points of view. The right is not alone in having an echo chamber, but it may be unique in the imperviousness of the walls. There was a time, a few decades ago, when it could credibly be said (as I recall, John Podhoretz did say) that conservatives speak liberal as well as their own language; subsequently, the right became monolingual.

On a brighter note, the fact that we're hearing things like "Beware the cocoon" from rock-ribbed conservatives like Victor Davis Hanson is a sign that things are changing, for the better, already.

No comments: