Where movement conservatives enable their political leaders to do more or less as they please, progressives seem far more willing to challenge and question “their side.” The siege and persecution mentalities that movement conservatives have long cultivated as coping mechanisms for their long history of domestic policy defeats and losses in the culture wars tend to make them far less willing to break with “their side,” which is why there is such importance placed on conformity and “team” loyalty. That means that movement conservatives typically have had to stifle, mute or otherwise water down any objections they do have to Republican policies under Bush. Then, once Bush is gone, for the sake of “the team” they feel they have to exaggerate their objections to Democratic policies and politicians to the point of absurdity to create sharper contrasts with the dismal record of Republican governance they just spent the last decade making possible.
Those on the right who value facts and intellectual integrity are often quick to dismiss the epistemic closure problem as being a phenomenon that plays out on both sides of the political spectrum. And that's true, to some extent. But it plays out very differently. The reality is that the liberal intellectual community does an infinitely better job of policing the problem. There a far more people on the left who are willing to call out reality denial when they see it, even among their own ranks. This just doesn't happen nearly as often on the right, and those who engage in it -- see, e.g., Manzi or David Frum -- get ostracized.
Chait comments on the Levin-Manzi foofaraw:
Writers at the American Scene or the Frum Forum might disagree with each other, but they're not going to call each other wingnuts, as Manzi did to Levin. You can admire Manzi's courage in speaking truth to power while acknowledging that NR's denizens weren't totally out of bounds in taking offense at his manner.
Of course, this points to an inherent problem with maintaining a blog that functions as a bulletin board for the conservative movement. The standards of entry are extremely low, and the number of contributors is vast. The practical effect of this is to force a huge number of conservatives to grant each other collegial deference. This makes it harder for a conservative like Manzi -- who, for all his flaws, does craft arguments with data gleaned from outside the hermetic universe of conservative talking points -- to actually call a spade a spade.
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