An article in The Atlantic that surveyed attitudes towards political correctness in America, which I previously discussed here, noted that only about 8% of Americans considered themselves “progressive activists,” vs 25% for “devoted conservatives,” and with the rest being the “exhausted majority.”

Some might be shocked by the paucity of leftism suggested by that 8%, given that the culture wars are dominated by them and given how deeply infused the mainstream press and popular culture/entertainment are by their narrative. Others, who noticed the 1000+ electoral losses suffered by the Democrats in the years since Obama took office, might nod their heads in awareness.

In political jargon, a one-percenter is someone whose income lies in the top 1% of the distribution curve, or, as of 2015, had an adjusted gross income of just under half a million a year. It’s generally used in derogatory fashion by income-inequality gripers, social justice types, and the nakedly envious, but this meaning of 1%er is of relatively recent vintage.

A much older usage of one-percenter, or more specifically 1%er, is in the outlaw biker gang world. Per legend, the term first came into use in 1947, when the American Motorcycle Association supposedly issued a statement after a riot at a motorcycle event in Hollister, CA that declared that 99% of motorcyclists were good, God-fearing, law-abiding citizens. The AMA has denied ever issuing such a statement, but the term 1%er was latched onto by the bikers, and many wear a “1%er” patch on their vests. It’s a source of pride for them, but that pride lies in not being good citizens.

As importantly, 1%er reminds us that those folks are not the norm.

I’d propose we urge progressive activists to embrace “eight-percenter,” or “8%er” if they want to make logos or something similar, as their new label and badge of honor. It’ll let them find each other even more easily, it’ll let them build the unity of the outliers, and it’ll remind the rest of us that they are outliers, that their social justice and progressive agenda isn’t the norm or as ubiquitous/inevitable as some might have us believe.

Of course, that’ll undermine their efforts, but theirs is a world of unforced errors (Warren’s DNA reveal being merely the most recent) that they rarely recognize, so we don’t have to tell them.

Even if they reject the name, we can still call them by it, since nicknames are always properly attached by one’s counterparts, and never chosen by one’s self.

It’ll be a steady reminder. All that is foisted upon us in the name of progressivism is actively espoused by only one person in 12. Certainly, more than 1 in 12 vote for Democrats, but a lot of that is simple tribalism, and, as the Atlantic article reports, many of those Democratic voters find the progressive agenda problematic. Human nature fosters loyalty to our “team,” and it also makes us want to align with leaders, winners, and the majority, so a steady reminder that those loudest voices are but a small subset of our population is a good thing.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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