Liberal outlets have responded to all this by publishing the conservatism they wish to see in the world. Republicans with negative views of Donald Trump make up about 5 percent of the electorate, according to the latest Voter Study Group survey, but they are just about the only kind of Republican one will encounter on the pages of The Atlantic or New York Times.
Alas, there is a problem with this approach — it inevitably confronts the editors of such outlets with the thorny question: If the conservatives who are fit to print aren’t actually representative of the Republican worldview, then what do they offer their (predominately) liberal readers? If center-left publications are going to screen out ideas that are undeniably relevant — on the grounds that they violate their institutions’ bedrock values — why retain irrelevant perspectives that are so much in tension with those values?
It’s one thing to employ a conservative writer because he or she is interesting (a distinction I’d personally award to a handful of idiosyncratic reactionaries, Ross Douthat and Michael Brendan Dougherty, among them); it’s another to employ a substandard columnist because he or she is conservative. And liberal publications, in their quest for balance, have often done the latter.