Thursday, June 3, 2010


I support smaller government, lower taxes, less spending, and more individual freedom, yet I want nothing to do with modern conservatism. Here begins an open-ended attempt to explain just how that came to be.

I'm sure I’ll eventually broaden my scope, but for now I’m going to look exclusively at one prominent pundit: Neal Boortz.

[Update (added Nov. 9, 2010): Alright, maybe I broadened my scope a little sooner than expected. Not that I won't continue having things to say about Boortz from time to time.]

Why Boortz? Several reasons:
  • I grew up in suburban Atlanta, where Boortz is on the radio roughly 27 hours a day. He was my first exposure to political views beyond those of my immediate family, and is probably the single most important reason I began calling myself a libertarian as a teenager.
  • Modern American conservatism is essentially a coalition between libertarians and religious fundamentalists (how did that happen, anyway?). I am absolutely opposed to government-imposed morality, but Boortz comes from the libertarian side of the coalition. Thus, I tend to agree with his opinions on a vast majority of issues.
  • From a practical standpoint, I like that he posts a ton of content on his website. I don’t listen to his show every day, and even if I did, it’s nice to have something written to refer back to. (Also, the comments on his “Nuze” items are a lot of fun, in a hopeless, depressing way.)
And most importantly, Boortz strikes me as an adequate representative for conservative/libertarian discourse in general. He’s not a renowned scholar, but neither are Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, or Ann Coulter. Instead, he is a powerful influence on the conservative masses. He shapes not only popular opinion, but how issues, arguments, and opposing sides are defined and characterized in the first place.

I mentioned above that I generally agree with the substance of Boortz’s views. That should allow me to focus less on the merits of his arguments and more on his rhetorical tactics, which is the point of this project. Basically, I want to examine how an ideology that I still largely subscribe to has, in actual practice, become so repelling.

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