In last week’s podcast, she says,
what tends to happen is that, like, moderate Right-wingers will see the extremes of the Left and become convinced that this represents the Left. And that the whole of the Left has to be opposed drastically. This is an existential threat. And the moderate Left will do the same to the Right; and they will see the alt-Right [alternative Right] or the far Right as defining the Right. And so, when they are talking on social media, or when we’re reading analyses of politics, then we will hear, ‘The Left does this,’ and ‘The Right does that.’ As you saw, we had a little graphic in our essay, which just sort of demonstrates it, that these are the fringes. And most of the people in the middle in this graphic are saying ‘Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.’ Except that because of the existential–the perception of this existential threat right now, people are internalizing. They work the most faulty narratives of their own side in order to defend against what they see as the existentially dangerous threats on the other side.
Later, Lindsay puts it,
it became very fashionable to find the most extreme lunatic on the other side from your own, and then present them as if they are typical, in order to fear monger, or to whip up a base, or to radicalize. And this works. This has been–you know, I know that for instance Fox News got accused of it several years ago, of looking for the most lunatic liberal they could find, or to put a guy up there in the most–you know, bizarre, stereotypically, maybe almost hippie outfit there, or something–to say something crazy and then be like, ‘Well, there you go, Audience. This is what the Liberals look like and think.’ And this was, this is a form of not exactly journalism that I think has driven a lot of polarization.
This sounds a bit like Yuval Levin. That is, we have gravitated toward exaggerating the evils of the other side. This makes for apocalyptic thinking. This aggravates authoritarian tendencies on all sides.
I think that there are a lot of people out there who are not totally committed to one tribe or the other. The challenge in the United States today is that neither party wants to cater to that moderate majority. The intolerant wings of each party are ascendant, at least during primary season.