MINOT, N.D. — "You've lost it."
That was the stark, one-line email I received this week from a reader upset about something I wrote.
What, I'm not sure. He didn't include that in the email, and I decided, amid responding to the dozens of daily emails I get from readers, that I didn't care enough to inquire.
I'm used to the negativity. My job, as I see it, is to report the inconvenient facts, and make the unpopular argument when it's the right one.
If that earns the ire of some, so be it.
I don't know any other way to do this job.
Lately, though, I've inspired a lot of criticism from the right. People who normally, given my conservative proclivities, don't feel the need to be negative toward me.
"What happened to Rob Port?" is a question I've seen frequently on social media, asked by people who think I've turned my back on conservatism.
"A usually reliable voice of conservativism in the state, Port has apparently decided to come in from the cold," left-wing columnist Mike Jacobs wrote about me in January.
Conservative talk radio host Scott Hennen, who I worked for once upon a time, took to Facebook to wonder if perhaps my life-threatening bout with COVID-19 in December had done something to my brain.
Or maybe my employers at Forum Communications Co. have ordered me to tack left? Hennen thought that could be likely, too.
It's odd to be at the heart of this speculation because I don't perceive a shift in my politics. I'm tough on Donald Trump and many of his supporters, sure. As tough as I am on Democrats.
More locally I've been sharply critical of the Trump disciples in the Legislature's Bastiat Caucus, a group whose members, like Trump, have perverted the good name of conservatism by wrapping their wannabe authoritarianism in liberty-themed rhetoric.
To the extent that these are new developments in my body of work — and they are, I suppose, to one degree or another — the impetus for them is not a shift in ideology but a change in temper.
I have lost patience with performative politics.
Our government, at the national level, and increasingly at local levels as well, has become dysfunctional while our leading political figures carry on as though they were employed by a soap opera production and not in the complicated task of governing.
People who should care about problems such as our exploding national debt, which now measures trillions more than our gross domestic product, or the anarchy at our southern border, instead care about those things only in so far as they're conducive to getting a sweet spot on a cable news show or a lot of retweets on Twitter.
Our political leaders don't have constituencies anymore. They have audiences.
I'm not going to tolerate it anymore.
You shouldn't, either.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.