The problem with "Barstool conservatives"

Dave concludes his mini-rant in despair. Woke liberals to the left of him, kooky cons to the right, here he is, stuck in the middle with 95 percent of American voters. Look what we conservative crazies are gonna make him do, he pleads. We’re gonna make him vote for Joe F—kin’ Biden, for f—k’s sake! Seriously, WTAF?

Of course, it’s tempting to point out that this is the hot take we would expect from a guy who defended himself against charges of being a repulsive womanizing scumbag by countering that maybe he was, but he didn’t break the law. Portnoy would hardly be the first of his kind to wax vehemently eloquent on the sanctity of women’s reproductive autonomy. But his take also reflects the whole political oeuvre he represents—that areligious potpourri of sexual libertinism, anti-authoritarianism, anti-wokeness, and lots of f-bombs.

To say that barstool conservatism lacks a clear, animating political vision would be an understatement. But elements of it do attract a good number of voting Americans, even if Portnoy is delusional to think that 95 percent are as intensely distressed as he is over the fall of Roe v. Wade. One pulse Portnoy did accurately and popularly pick up last year was a deep, wide frustration with the Covid regime. Unfortunately, many mainstream conservative voices were not equally quick to find this pulse, which left many rank-and-file conservatives feeling jaded and betrayed. I have experienced a perturbing degree of hostile resistance from “my side” just for taking seriously reports about adverse reactions to vaccines. I have even seen self-styled pro-life voices insist that conservatives who hesitated to mask and vax up are not “truly pro-life.” David French, in his latest Sunday essay, “Roe Is Reversed, and the Right Isn’t Ready,” seems incapable of celebrating the momentous fall of Roe without taking yet another swing at conservatives who happened not to share his particular take on pandemic policy.