Generation X is often left off charts and graphs that talk about what people are thinking. This exclusion is probably because we are not very well represented outside of corporate America. Tucker Carlson is a singular exception on this front. While I may not agree with every single policy prescription Carlson advocates, I wholeheartedly concur with the values that undergird his commentary. Take his monologue from last night that he is under fire for because he criticized Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.):
If Ronald Reagan was your president for eight of your formative years–and you grew up in the shadow of the turbulent 1960s and the ghost of World War II–then Carlson makes complete sense. Generation X was raised with a strong sense of American exceptionalism. We believed sincerely in the “shining city on a hill.” Mainly because, in the lifetime of our extended family, the United States had defeated fascism and communism. We knew to our very bones these ideologies were evil and brutal. It is why we are shocked they have fans in this country today.
I would challenge any of my fellow travelers to listen to this clip of Reagan’s farewell speech and tell me how the ideals and values expressed differ fundamentally from those articulated by President Trump at Mount Rushmore, or those regularly articulated by Carlson:
Of course, you can’t. The reason the media and our other left-wing institutions want Tucker of the air and President Trump hobbled is far more simplistic. They want power. So, they are terrified of a President Trump who has the same arguments to make for his reelection that Reagan did for the continuation of his legacy with President Bush. The success of Trump’s economic and foreign policy allowed Americans, without regard to any immutable characteristics, feel safer, become more prosperous, and believe again in the American dream. And in January, America said it felt that way:
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So Democrats and the media took those arguments away to the best of their ability. Democrat governors shut down for longer, without a scientific basis, crippling their economies. The media has worked to keep you terrified to be out in public so the Democrats can push mail-in voting. Now they have ginned up a race war whose premise of police brutality does not hold up to scrutiny, and whose duration and destruction have no tie to the murder of George Floyd.
They hate Carlson because he sees them clearly on both sides of the aisle. He calls out their failures, their hypocrisy, and their gaping blind spots. He also points out blatant abuses of power, such as the tech monopolies that harbor a political agenda. If they cared to look, so would most of Generation X. We are known to be skeptical, cynical, and suspicious of concentrations of power.
So when Tucker Carlson goes after Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) for endorsing the self-described Marxist organization Black Lives Matter, it makes perfect sense. Generation X knows Marxism is terrible. BLM’s stated goals for the economy, the family, and separate institutions are explicitly Marxist and antithetical to everything the Republican Party is supposed to stand for.
When Carlson calls Joe Biden mediocre, he is, of course, correct. Biden is a presidential candidate who promised a return to normalcy to start his campaign and vows fundamental transformation now. He has no convictions or underlying principles. Generation X also remembers his failed previous runs.
He is a lifelong panderer, who says what he needs to say to get votes. Biden now runs from his record, with minimal accomplishments to claim. After nearly 50 years in public office, he’s going to fix everything now. Does any rational person believe this? Does anyone 42 and older believe America is a more oppressive or racist country than it was when you were growing up?
Carlson takes a risk when he calls Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) silly and unimpressive. It is possible to be grateful for the senator’s military service and acknowledge her sacrifice. However, Carlson is not obligated to hold back from criticism of her political positions or performance. These are two separate topics.
On CNN with Alisyn Camerota, Duckworth said we needed a national conversation about removing statues and monuments of figures like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The authors of the Constitution and Bill of Rights she swore to defend. Pretty astonishing and not at all in line with Biden’s latest position. Not that he won’t change it if he feels it is politically expedient.
Oddly, Senator Duckworth launched her American Dream tour seven years ago. It began with her vigorously waving a flag. The same flag protestors burned in front of the White House on July 4th. And in her rhetoric, she espouses much the same vision of an American Dream that is espoused by Reagan, Trump, and Carlson.
So whom do we believe? The Senator Duckworth, with a positive and hopeful vision of America, wrapped up in the flag where the dream is still alive? Or the Senator Duckworth who thinks we should have a national conversation about removing the symbols of our founding in support of a movement that holds an ideology antithetical to the values she fought to protect?
This blatant cognitive dissonance in the pursuit of power is part of what Carlson calls out regularly on his show. It is why I am glad that he is attracting a younger demographic. The seeds of skepticism were already sown as our shared horror over the death of George Floyd turned in to a narrative meant to divide us and make us doubt one another. This rapid cultural turn has led to profound confusion for many. Carlson attempts to untangle it all for his viewers.
Carlson is fond of saying he is “just a talk show host.” In a culture that increasingly demands conformity to the point that you are required to say things you know to be false, he may become quite a bit more than that. He may teach a younger cohort to be far more skeptical of concentrated power than their education encouraged them to be. And to think more deeply about the narrative they are being handed. Healthy skepticism is a good thing, and Carlson hands it out to his viewers by the truckload.