Half a decade ago, the originally Boston-based site and its rabid fan base would not have scanned as “political” at all. But now his proud Neanderthal and reactionary ethos fits perfectly with the side of our political binary that Trump has reconfigured: the one whose common denominator is a toothless middle finger reluctance to accept liberal social norms.
If you looked at Portnoy around 2010 – a budding brother entrepreneur popping champagne with models cheesy photo shoots – You’d have to squint pretty hard to see a potential Republican standard-bearer. If you look now, it’s hard not to. It is now commonplace to see the Trump presidency “changing everything” for Republicans, from conventional opinion to politics to the conduct of their domestic politics. But first and foremost, it changed the face that the party presented to the world. Where once nominees like Mitt Romney and John McCain tried to subordinate cultural grievances to a professionalized, integrative political style, Trump managed to put them right at the front from the can. And when he casually broke that old mix of market economy and country club traditionalism, Barstool was done.
The rise of the “Barstool Republican” to shape a phenotype doesn’t necessarily explain Trump. However, it is a useful way to understand what happened to American politics without constantly mentioning the former president’s name. Portnoy’s followers are not MAGA fanatics or Q fans who live to torment liberals, and they certainly do not belong to the GOP evangelical base. (One could imagine that the last thing they want is a Supreme Court to strike roeBut the barstool Republican now largely defines the Republican coalition because he’s willing to forego his party’s conventional political wisdom in everything – the social safety net, drug laws, access to abortion – as long as it means one thing: he won’t must vote for a snooty Democrat, and as proxy for the caste of lousy deans that supports the politically correct cultural regime of the left.
The backlash to the liberal dominance of pop culture and the transformation of language norms over the past decade created the barstool Republican long before Portnoy’s name was joke around as a political candidate. And if you were paying attention, your Cultural Revolution dates from a time when you were thrown out of Mar-a-Lago with antics like that, rather than being installed for life.El Presidente. “
Lost in the annals of a time of culture wars were not quite as central to our national politics, is a nomenclature that seems almost strange today: the so-called “South Park Republican”.
Back in 2001, sloppy conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan used the term to describe members of his political tribe who shared the anti-PC, social-libertarian views of South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Stone and Parker protested loudly against their hatred of both major parties. Still, the label stuck, inspiring sparring New York Times columns and even a Book-length explorations the concept of the conservative writer Brian C. Anderson.
In the political climate of the mid-2000s, the attractiveness of the concept was obvious: When Generation X and younger baby boomers rose into the ranks of the political elite, it made sense to refer to the blue-blooded mustiness and social conservatism of the Reagan-Bush Empire in favor of a vague countercultural tolerance after the sixties. W traded his father’s country club affect for a pair of cowboy boots, but he was not fooling anyone: the cultural energy in the Republican Party, if any, lay in its feather-light libertarian wing, whose influence would soon culminate with the self-proclaimed one Ron Paul Revolution. But like so many would-be revolutions, this one was denied – or at least delayed and mutated.
Paul’s 2012 bid to become the banner bearer of the Republican Party failed spectacularly and failed to turn the internet hype into meaningful primary support. Romney won the nomination and invited youthful Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan (whose cool training equipment and politically unfathomable love too Anger against the machine, unfortunately could not inspire a Romney Ryan youth movement).
Crash on the rocks of both Barack Obama’s megawatt cultural celebrity and the impending coronation of Jeb Bush as a post- “autopsy“The face of the GOP was the rude Republican cohort on open ends – until an unlikely redemption came in the form of a 6’3” reality show host and more frequently Howard Stern guest down its golden escalator to the first paragraph of 21st century American history.
Trump initially fitted in with both the culturally more sophisticated, more libertarian members of the Republican coalition and their staid religious counterparts. But at the same time he combined republican culture and pushed it to the limits of street legal, anti-P.C. Critics saw another revolution within liberal politics – and the transitive nature made pop culture capitalized. In their eyes, Hillary Clinton’s campaign represented the triumph of a pro-establishment cultural nanny state that opposed Obama’s attempt to de-escalate the culture wars in favor of a rigid new social justice label: a rainbow flag was effectively hoisted over Bushes’ Kennebunkport grounds.
One of Trump’s early adopters perfectly articulated the mindset in August 2015 when Jeb! was still his greatest threat: “I am voting for Donald Trump. I don’t care if he’s kidding. I don’t care if he’s racist. I don’t care if he’s sexist. I don’t care about any of this. I hope he stays in the race and I hope he wins. Why? Because I love the fact that he makes other politicians fidget. I love the fact that he says shit that no one else will say, no matter how ridiculous it is. “
No points to guess the author: Dave Portnoy, who gave birth to the bar stool Republican with a single 200 word blog entry. Trump changed the political landscape by instilling a powerful desire for freedom from criticism or blame – a desire that Portnoy shared and which only became more intense and widespread as the panopticon of social media became the main stage of not just national politics but civic life at all levels.
In one pillar this February for The week, the Catholic socially conservative writer Matthew Walther described the “barstool conservatives” primarily as “contempt for the language of liberal improvement, the intimidating, school-thinking attitude of democratic politicians and their allies in the media and, above all, the increase in risk aversion on the level a principle of the first order by our professional groups. ”In other words: cultural war issues.
Oddly enough, despite the thirst for conflict that goes with it, the rise of bar stoolism within the Republican Party can be attributed to the ideological diversity within the GOP. What could unite free market libertarians, revanchist Catholics, southern evangelicals, and Reagan working class Democrats other than their shared hatred of … actual Democrats?
With that as the guiding principle of the party and without a clear political agenda – the RNC 2020 in the truest sense of the word had not a new political platform – those ready to destroy the democratic cultural regime in the loudest and most persistent manner are in command, while the staid Republicans are forced to at least provide cover, if not actively follow their leads.
You are forced to defend newcomer North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn in the face of him attention seeking tweets and allegations of sexual harassment from his (recent) college days while being in the top 10 congressmen missed voices. You are forced to defend Florida Rep Matt Gaetz while he faces his own accusations of sexual inappropriateness – not to mention his frat boy antics, like showing up before Congress rolled into one Gas mask in the first days of the corona pandemic. You are forced to defend Colorado MP Lauren Boebert as she fights off complaints from voters about her “embarrassing” newcomer tenure after winning a primary and a general election largely because of her, well, cash holdings.
Just as anti-PC, vaguely amoral bar stoolism can be a strength, it can also be a weakness. In a media environment designed to strengthen and intensify one’s ideological beliefs, constant attack can leave you in an exhausting state of constant defense. Yes, it can inspire – almost 75 million people have voted for the re-election of Donald Trump Stool-in-chief – but it can also make you upset and angry – a record 81 million Americans voted for Trump’s deliberately less combative opponent Joe Biden. It also carries the risk of all novelty: that people might just get bored with it. The provocation of yesterday becomes the status quo of today and thus the status of tomorrow epic twitch.
When Republican voters made Trump their presidential candidate in 2016, they chose a glove-less culture war rather than either Jeb Bush’s serious compromise or the imitations of a careerist provocative like Senator Ted Cruz. Trump took advantage of a very real dissatisfaction with the liberal status quo in terms of language and culture among American voters, and reaped both the rewards and backlash that came with it. Someone like Dave Portnoy, while not a viable presidential candidate, is at least a credible successor to the role of last Republican incumbent: Trump, Gaetz, Boebert, Cawthorn, and their ilk share Portnoy’s single-minded obsession with making headlines and affirming the cultural identity of their constituents around everyone Price.
In a media-obsessed world, it’s a powerful, exhilarating ability. And now that it has been shown to be a workable route to election victory, Republicans are clinging to it – perhaps wisely – for their lives. As a creation by Judd Apatow, the great comedy writer of the 21st century, once said: “Pandora doesn’t go back in the box, he just comes out. “