The title is somewhat misleading because by ‘smart’ the author means media savvy and nuanced, not smart as in an IQ score. Dr. Peterson estimates his own IQ to be 150, which is a 1/5,000 rarity score. This means by every measure Dr. Peterson is really smart.
This passage stood out:
The smart answer for a guy pandering to the Fox News crowd would be to praise Trump. The smart answer for a professor trying to win friends in academia would be to praise Clinton. But Peterson did neither: He thought about it. And his nuanced answer is the kind that we don’t see enough from political commentators these days.
A disused in earlier articles on online journalism and discourse, I think it’s actually the opposite in that we’re seeing the decline of overt partisan punditry and the rise of more nuanced discourse as shown by the rise of Dr. Peterson, but also the rise of Sam Harris, Dave Rubin, Jonathan Haidt, Eric & Bret Weinstein, Claire Lehman, Ben Shapiro and others who employ a more ‘rationalist’ style of discourse and have seen their popularity explode in the past year or so. Ann Coulter’s shrill/divisive brand of conservatism, although still popular, has stagnated. It doesn’t move the needle in the same way the more centrist variants have. No one on Reddit or YouTube seems to care what Ann or Rush have to say, and those are huge audiences, but Dr. Peterson and the other names I listed are hugely popular. Jordan Peterson’s rise is part of this trend, but he’s also spearheading it too to some degree. By ‘rationalist’ I mean their views are provisional and formed by a combination of empirical evidence, but also rationalism in the epistemological sense. Their style is very empirically-minded and cerebral (fast-talking, lots of data, very smart-sounding), whereas with Ann Coulter and others it’s more about partisan identity, which is fixed and immutable.
But that’s not to say some partisanship among centrists does not exist. Ben Shapiro is right wing, but just not very far to the right, and he seems to get along better with his fellow horsemen of centrism than those on the far-right.
What happened around 2013 is that many millennials on the left, former Obama supports perhaps, realized that their fellow liberals had become too extreme, which made centrism more appealing. After Obama’s reelection, OWS, the demise of the Bush legacy, the financial crisis (which held the left greatly), etc., the left became too confident and overplayed its hand, which caused a backlash and a return of the pendulum to the middle. In 2015-(early)2017 with the rise of the Trump and the alt-right, it swung to the right, but too far, and now it’s going back to the middle, which explains the rise of these center left-/right pundits.
These follow in cycles of four, corresponding to the presidential election cycle.