Lately there’s been one of those strange, annoying political trends plodding its way through some of the conservative political media: the phenomenon of the “cuckservative,” a Shakespearean-esque slur used by super-duper conservative types to insult people who are not quite so super-duper conservative. So far as I can tell, the insult is mostly hurled at conservatives who are not sufficiently opposed to Mexican immigration; if you’re not up for building a two-thousand-mile-long wall along the southern border to keep out foreign people at all costs, then you need to surrender your conservative card, or something.
It’s not every day that the “real conservative” movement finds itself perfectly in alignment with the Socialist campaign of Bernie Sanders, but then these are funny times we live in. It’s actually kind of interesting to see the Right devolve into this kind of nasty, tribalistic warfare: it’s basically the kind of thing you’ve come to expect from the Left, the members of which cannot sneeze without accusing each other of transphobia and White Privilege. Anyone who’s spent time in any kind of academic environment has seen this type of sectarian devolution; I once witnessed a mega-feminist furiously stomp out of a Women’s Studies course because the professor—herself a very prominent and long-respected feminist—was not sufficiently anti-male. Modern progressivism is an hilarious potluck of chest-thumping and grievance-strutting: you just never know when you’re not going to be appropriately liberal with these people. To see a fairly large faction of the Right melt into such hysteria is disappointing.
Chuck Johnson—perhaps the most intolerable conservative commentator, if he could even be classified as either conservative or a commentator—last week took it upon himself to define “cuckservative” for the masses; sandwiched in between a truly astonishing avalanche of self-aggrandizement (“I was so good at it that they had to kick me off Twitter”), Johnson claims:
“[Cuckservative is] about the fake, phony conservatives who enjoy watching the real fighters on the right get sodomized while they gleefully gawk. They crave respectability over power and the limelight over influence. Seldom paid for their performances on Fox News or MSNBC, they repeat conventional wisdom after getting gussied up—but you can’t polish a soul.”
Sheesh. Look, it’s all well and good to bash faux-conservativism when you see it (after Mitch McConnel’s back-stabbing disaster of a highway bill, for one, it certainly wasn’t difficult to find), but honestly: if the real conservatives in this case are the guys who use the term “gussied up” without irony, I’m not sure I want to be associated with any of them or anything they do. “Seldom paid…get sodomized…you can’t polish a soul?” This is the histrionic dialect of a college postmodern literature course, not anything resembling actual conservative thought. Let us stipulate: there is assuredly a dearth of practical conservative sentiment to be found in many of the Right’s political and cultural efforts these days, and this needs fixing. But for the love of God, the solution isn’t to adopt a nauseating, childish melodrama in order to call out the people who are “gleefully gawking” at you; you’re just going to marginalize yourself, your movement and your convictions, and deservedly so. I mean, you shouldn’t even be writing the phrase “gleefully gawk.” It grinds the ear and it makes you look stupid.
Conservativism certainly needs a lot of work if it’s going to survive as a viable political philosophy in the twenty-first century and if it’s going to effect the kind of change conservatives themselves wish to see. But if we want these things to come about, we don’t need to be listening to the Chuck Johnsons or the cuckservative slingers or the people who actually use the term “real fighters” to describe themselves. They will not help. They’ll only make us look ridiculous and unintelligent, as they’ve already done quite handily for themselves.