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Where The Kooks Have No Name

by Jeremy Hooper

About a month ago, Bryan Fischer started following me on Twitter. It's been over a year since I've written the man's name, and much longer since I've given him any real credence as a political operative, yet there he was in my notifications, letting me know that my presence continues to linger in his consciousness. 

In the time since I've stepped away from the so-called "culture war," I've experienced similar pop-ins from similarly heated activists—a social media blip here, an e-newsletter there. There's are names that used to fill my days—my weeks, my months, my years—in a very real and impactful ways. There work is the work that I used to beat back in order to lend dominance to my and my team's own message. They are the adversaries whose missteps would thrill my souls, and whose misbegotten wins would further ignite my fire.

But now? Now, it's as if they no longer exist. They are not like old friends whose re-entrance sparks a nostalgic curiosity for days gone by. They are not like former colleagues whose work holds a lingering curiosity in my mind. They are not evergreen foes whose continuing lives I wish to hinder in any lasting way. They are just kind of—there. They are little more than nominal footnotes who I'm glad to relegate to the past. I don't feel happiness or disgust when they reappear. I just feel, well—nothing.

And it's not that I fail to recognize that some of these folks continue to have a degree of influence. I know that some of these people and groups continue to have the ear of a scattered conservative movement that is going through a Trumpian identity crisis. I get that there are continued fights and that they are still strategizing ways to stop and/or roll back the clock. I really do get this. But I also know that once I took a step back from the fight, in a period that coincided with our most major political and cultural wins in our movement's history, a stagehand in my brain turned out the lights on the long-winded tragicomedy that defined a decade of my life. This cast of characters might go on to new plots, but I am no longer going to be in the audience. I'm completely comfortable not knowing what wacky antics they might get into next.

Could this change? Sure. President Donald J. Trump could appoint Secretary of State Tony Perkins and Supreme Court Justice Maggie Gallagher, and I'd sign of for the sequel. But while I have the utmost respect for my friends and colleagues who continue to track the animus-driven men and women who dedicate their days to limiting the lives of others, I feel completely comfortable with my own retirement from that gig. And I am also proud to deliver the news that once you do make the choice to step away from this nonsense, the effects from the outsized antics of this relatively small band of operatives do dissipate rather quickly. The world is big and imperfect and sometimes awful, but it's much deeper and more nuanced than the "culture war" setup can lead one to believe. They are not nearly as important as they think they are.

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