James Fallows on David Leonhardt
So What Happens on August 2?

The Heritage Filter: Does America Have a Future in Which There Are Smart Conservatives?

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Matthew Yglesias:

Having Plunged Previously, After The Affordable Care Act Passed Private Sector Employment Increased: [P]rivate sector employment has grown after the passage of the Affordable Care Act. But the “math is hard” crowd at the Heritage [Foundation] has discovered that by taking the second derivative of employment you can create a “trend” that makes the ACA look bad. It’s very ingenious. And judged by my Twitter feed, there are actually some conservatives out there who are gullible enough to be taken in by this kind of thing. Clearly, though, no fair-minded person actually interested in the subject is going to be persuaded by this kind of nonsense. I think it’s really too bad that conservative institutions spend a fair amount of time and energy on projects whose only possible effect can be to mislead their own constituency.

John Stuart Mill famously wrote to John Pakington:

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.

It is quite possible that we are moving into a future in which John Stuart Mill will turn out to be wrong.

If so, I think it will be because of the Heritage Foundation filter. To be a conservative in America today, you see, you have to take the publications of the Heritage Foundation seriously. But as more and more Heritage makes arguments like:

Before the passage of the ACA things were getting worse, but getting worse more slowly as time passed. Since the passage of the ACA things have been getting better. Therefore the ACA made things worse!

it becomes less and less possible for anybody even moderately intelligent and thoughtful to take the Heritage Foundation seriously.

That means that even the moderately intelligent and thoughtful will find themselves being read out of the conservative movement.

As somebody who thinks and has always thought that we need smart conservatives, this is very disturbing to me...