Throughout the past month, I have come across entire fistfuls of articles that seem to impart the idea that Republicans and other conservative movements must someday convert the members of increasingly liberal generations of youths, like Gen Y and Gen Z, if they desire political longevity.
It’s a fallacious offering, to say the least, and this is partly because our criteria for what is considered “liberal” has necessarily changed over time, so to say that a Gen Y individual is by default more liberal than a Baby Boomer is really no stretch of the imagination. In other words, these shifts in political alignments are not happening in a vacuum.
Furthermore, these articles fail to mention that conservative movements at large have already made major strides in captivating younger audiences through the use of new media platforms such as podcasts and YouTube channels. A major part of this effort is the coalition of online media personalities under the moniker of the Intellectual Dark Web.
Though there are many members of varying obscurity, notable members of this Web include Joe Rogan, host of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire, and Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist who teaches at the University of Toronto.
At face value, the branding of the Web seems to be for its members to share and discuss narrowly competing ideologies in a manner that is calm, reserved and devoid of rhetoric that is based in emotion, all while simultaneously representing the political left as the antithesis of these values. In this manner, the Web’s members can come across as though they are cutting through the noise and kerfuffle of a clamoring news media cycle while still appearing objective and driven solely by logic.
Though they vary in their respective executions of this goal, each of the members all have one thing in common: they all fall on the conservative side of the ideological spectrum. Whether you examine the diet-brand conservatism and libertarianism espoused by Rogan or the more old-fashioned religious orthodoxy shared by Shapiro and Peterson, you will be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of left-wing arguments among the Intellectual Dark Web. That’s problematic when you note that the Web arguably signifies the foremost philosophical movement in the U.S., all without accurately representing approximately half of American political discourse.
While many of the Web’s less recognizable members appeal to more cult audiences, its biggest players are pulling viewership numbers closer to, or greater than, that of a major cable news broadcasting network like Fox News or CNN.
The Ben Shapiro Show podcast garners as many as 15 million downloads within a month, while Rogan’s aforementioned podcast maintains its position as one of the most popular and longest-running podcasts in the world. It all sounds great, whether you’re a conservative or simply someone who has been hoping for new-era news media to outcompete cable news.
If you’re a liberal, well, it’s something of a mixed bag. There are certainly merits to the success of new media icons like Shapiro, Peterson or Rogan, because their success has created disproportionate but substantial demand for liberal counterparts. Independent news commentary sources like Pod Save America and The Young Turks are strong examples of liberal podcasts with significant followings.
However, the Intellectual Dark Web possesses a key ingredient that the left-wing new media has so far failed to properly imitate, and that ingredient is inter-platform crossover debates. There is no shortage of debates in both audio and video format that feature discussions between Peterson and Rogan, Shapiro and Peterson or any other combination of peers thereof.
Because these crossover debates are frequent, there is a false image created of total ideological representation where in fact the collection of ideologies present within the Web is anything but diverse. As a result, the Intellectual Dark Web actually begins to more closely resemble an expansive and cavernous echo-chamber upon closer inspection.
What you will not find much of among these individuals’ content is debates with members of the opposing side of the political spectrum; the number of times that any representative from Pod Save America or The Young Turks has been recorded in the same room with a member of the Intellectual Dark Web can be counted on one hand.
In employing the aforementioned methods, members of the Intellectual Dark Web have successfully placed themselves at the forefront of any Gen Y or Gen Z individual’s first foray into political commentary. Additionally, the Web has done an excellent job of placing themselves in a strong position to misrepresent left-wing politics as much as they like without fear of facing counterarguments.
As a result, I find it hard to believe that the new conservative movement will encounter much difficulty going forward. If anything, the Web has ensured that conservative ideologies will thrive through the foreseeable future, despite the minute chances that they will overtake liberal thought.