This entire feud between David Hogg and Laura Ingraham is pretty much what happens when emotions takes over actual political discussion. Hogg feels slighted he didn’t get into a bunch of colleges, and his allies (who believe he’s entitled to get into whatever school he wants) cry foul. Ingraham mocks Hogg on Twitter, loses advertisers because Hogg gets mad, and apologizes for her comments. Hogg, deciding to be a complete teenager, rejects the apology. It’s certainly why it’s not surprising to see Hogg and his ilk decide to go for Ingraham’s throat because it sums up American politics, specifically those within the populist paradigm.
A few people have pointed out how the “March for Our Lives” rallies resembled rallies put together by President Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. Both Trump and the “March for Our Lives” folks used the slogan “Make America Safe Again,” whilst trying to promote one authoritarian position or another. Both considered their campaign a movement of one kind or the other, and are hoping to get change of one kind or another into place. It should also be pointed out senators like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren all use the same kind of style, and occasional rhetoric, when promoting their positions (even if the outcomes they want are completely different). It’s the nature of populist movements.
The Hogg/Ingraham feud also shows what happens when populists decide to go to war with each other. Hogg certainly has less to lose – except his popularity – while Ingraham does have sponsors to be concerned about (hence her apology). There is no real adult in the room, because populists movements are all about ginning up the people to respond to some sort of crisis whether it be guns or immigrants or whatever. The battle for the populist movement’s soul is one where people get pulled in multiple different directions while trying to get it to move one way or the other.
Guy Benson summed up the current fight between Hogg and Ingraham rather nicely at Town Hall.
Exacting ideological vengeance via orchestrated outrage mobs is an illiberal and unhealthy societal impulse. And that doesn’t even touch the hypocrisy angle: In recent days, a number of prominent leftists have seen fit to hurl nasty invective at right-leaning Parkland survivors — including a young man whose sister was murdered. Some conservatives have sought to turn the Left’s own ruthless and merciless “rules” against their side, demanding economic sanctions against these transgressors, with some limited “success” (including that apparently misplaced development). I understand the idea: If taking an ill-advised rhetorical shot at a Parkland survivor is so beyond the pale that it merits the destruction of Laura Ingraham, shouldn’t similar insults and slights levied against other survivors result in similar ramifications, regardless of partisan roles. Thus, shouldn’t Newsweek and Vanity Fair advertisers walk away from those publications until Kurt Eichenwald is “properly” dealt with? Shouldn’t Bravo’s sponsors withhold their support until one of their reality stars is punished or fired? Shouldn’t the government of Alberta, Canada reprimand, suspend, or terminate the employment of functionary Max Fawcett? And shouldn’t any apologies (of which there have been a few) be ignored, or even exploited as a sign of weakness? These are the New Standards, after all. My short answer to this is: No.
There is certainly something to be said about behaving graciously in the face of just plain meanness, even if our immediate reaction is to go all Viking berserker on opponents with vindictiveness, and caustic rhetoric. Yet even Odin suggested in Havamal it was smarter to be wise than fierce.
A wise counseled man will be mild in bearing and use his might in measure,
lest when he come his fierce foes among he find others fiercer than he.
Or to simplify: Choose your battles.
It’s easy to show anger in the face of politics, especially when dealing with people with anti-freedom policies. It may be wiser to point out the logical fallacies in their arguments without dipping down to using their own strategies and rhetoric. There are certainly times when it’s important to show Viking berserker-like fury, but those should probably be few and far between. The big issue is the fact populism is built on emotion-thus fury-meaning populists spend more time venting their anger instead of using a more logical discussion. This is why the fury between Ingraham and Hogg is unsurprising, and unbecoming, for American politics.