MINOT, N.D. — Conservative thought is mainstream thought.

It can be hard to tell from the way conservatives talk.

Listen to an hour of conservative talk radio, or turn on Fox News in primetime, and, depending on the day, the term you'll likely hear more than any other is "mainstream media." The people who use this term are intending to draw a distinction between conservative media and what they see (not incorrectly) as traditional media outlets where right-of-center thinking isn't very welcome.

According to Gallup, even at low ebb here at the end of the bitter and awful Donald Trump era, a larger percentage of Americans describe themselves as conservative than liberal, and yet conservatives love to define themselves as out of the mainstream.

This is unfortunate.

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Because, again, conservative thought is mainstream thought.

This is a symptom of the way conservatives have ghettoized themselves, turning their backs on the "mainstream" and retreating into the growing bubble of conservative (and, by their own definition, not-mainstream) media.

Media endeavors such as One American News and Newsmax are where that growth is happening today, but the trend goes back much further.

Rush Limbaugh was a pioneer in conservative media, launching his nationally syndicated show in the late 1980s, but even decades before that conservative print publications such as National Review and Human Events were were launched in the 1950s.

The motivation, and subsequent success, of these endeavors was rooted in a growing hostility to conservatism in America's dominant cultural institutions.

The news media, yes, but also academia and the entertainment industry. No longer feeling welcomed by Hollywood, or our nation's campuses, or even the national news media, conservatives went and carved out their own space.

In some ways, that's healthy, a perfectly natural reaction to the sort of institutional gatekeeping that was locking conservatives out.

It's also had a curdling effect on the movement. What was once an effort to tear down gates by standing up alternative institutions has become a retreat into a comfortable bubble.

Many conservatives have stopped listening to anyone but themselves.

That retreat away from the mainstream, and toward the warm waters of confirmation bias, continues today.

It terrifies me that a small handful of powerful tech industry executives now control the debate in what amounts to America's modern public square. It should terrify everyone.

Conservatives are reacting to it by seeking out the social media equivalent of talk radio. They went to Parler, and now that Parler is gone, they're retreating to other services like Signal and Gab.

We need to stop the retreat.

Conservatives need to climb out of this ghetto we've created for ourselves and re-assert our ideas as every bit as valid and mainstream as progressive thinking.

It won't be easy. A lot of people (*cough* Fox News *cough*) make a lot of money from the status quo, but our movement should be about ideas not the bottom line of the infotainment industry.

To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com.