Erick Erickson is an influential Conservative personality who lives in Macon. He is also the reason I blog today. He spoke at my local Rotary meeting six years ago about his blogging career and I had no idea what a blog was until he spoke. Rebel Yid was born a week later.
Since then he has become a national and controversial figure with positions at CNN and Fox. This article in Atlantic is an interesting view and well worth the read. The writer, Molly Ball, shows that even the most committed ideologue can be far more dynamic than the critics portray.
As Erickson sees it, the conservative movement and the Republican Party are two different things, and the former is more important. For 50 years, the conservative movement has alternately abetted and tormented the Republican Party. It has provided an intellectual framework and activist passion to the GOP, but—from the John Birch Society of the 1960s to the Tea Party of today—it has trained its fire just as often within the party as without, fueling primary battles and a spirit of with-us-or-against-us absolutism. Sometimes it has even won, as with the nomination of Barry Goldwater, which did not go so well, and that of Ronald Reagan (although some conservatives began complaining about Reagan almost immediately after he was elected). Party mandarins have long regarded those on the far right as useful idiots who helped win elections but could not be allowed near the levers of power.
“Generally, the right gets mad at me more than the left,” Erickson told me. “But the worst stuff, the angry-death-threat-level stuff, that tends to come from the left.” The hate mail was relatively mild until Erickson became a CNN contributor in 2010. “That’s when I first got someone saying they were going to tie me up, cut off my eyelids, and rape and murder my wife.” In 2012, a SWAT team was called to Erickson’s house by a harasser claiming it was the site of a violent crime, a dangerous practice known as “swatting.”
Erickson is unmoved by such criticism. “These guys who think I am a bully are used to a certain Beltway etiquette and hate to be held accountable,” he told me. Nor does he apologize for his opposition to compromise, citing the maxim—attributed, apocryphally, to the former Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen—that there are two parties in Washington, the stupid party and the evil party, who occasionally get together and do something both stupid and evil, and this is called bipartisanship.
Spending so much of his childhood overseas also made him an outsider to American racial dynamics, Erickson says. He claims that, unlike Americans who grew up here, he lacks an intuitive understanding of racial politics. It’s a slightly absurd claim, reminiscent of the parodic color-blindness of Stephen Colbert (“I don’t see race!”), but, unlike some others in talk radio—Limbaugh, for instance—Erickson does not pepper his show with racial provocations. As we drove to get Evelyn from her private Christian day school, where acres of neatly trimmed sports fields gleamed in the sunshine, he told me, with a sad shake of his head, that he believed only time, not government intervention, could heal America’s racial wounds.