A major piece in the Atlantic, and a related article at ABC News, point to an emerging problem for the Left: Their identity politics narrative isn’t working out for them.

The Atlantic article offers some revealing statistics:

25% of Americans are “devoted conservatives,” with views far outside the mainstream.

8% of Americans are “progressive activists,” with views even farther outside the mainstream than the “devoted conservatives.”

The rest are called an “exhausted majority.”

And, most tellingly, fully 80% of the populace considers political correctness a “problem in our country.”

Consider the implications of these figures in the context of the Left’s approach to cultural dialogue. Today, to have a chance at speaking without drawing instant and virulent condemnation as a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, or some other form of bigot, you need to be fully “woke,” as in you need to know the full progressive belief set in all areas, and you need to know it and live it to a greater degree of purity than Elizabeth Warren’s whiteness. You could be a progressive hero, but make one miscue and the long knives come out for you. You need to know a whole new language. You need to understand what “cis” means, what the suffix “-normative” means and implies (always negative, by the way), you need to accept that there’s an entire new lexicon of pronouns to master.

And, that’s on top of engaging in full-throated advocacy for a progressive agenda lifted straight out of 60s campus radical meetings. Socialized medicine. Free college. Guaranteed jobs (or guaranteed money, no work required). Guaranteed cheap housing. Wanna be homeless, and roost on someone’s stoop? You’ve got that right. Disarm the public. Ban money you don’t like from politics. Free birth control. Free abortions. Put your boot on the necks of businesses, since they are nasty exploiters. Every Republican is evil.

Finally, you Must. Not. Compromise. On anything. Not only must health care be nationalized, private insurance must be banned. Not only must immigration be liberalized, border control must be eliminated. Not only must abortion rights be ensured, third trimester abortions must be available. Any thing suggested by one not of the home team must be opposed. Any opinion that doesn’t conform must be chased away or shouted down.

Fall short and the Left’s raging banshees will find you.

Does this sound reasonable or realistic? Of course not, but it is indeed how the loudest and most dominating voices in the progressive ranks think and operate.

The fact that they’ve been losing elections everywhere except in deep-blue, rubber-stamp-our-tribe enclaves, as their message has become more and more strident, hasn’t sunk in. Indeed, rather than assess what went wrong in 2010, 2014, and 2016, and consider that Obama’s success was an outlier data point rather than a bellwether, they’ve continued to charge harder towards the left.

This is a deeply blindered way of looking at the world, and a scorched-earth way of doing politics.

And, it brings us to the ABC News article, which suggests that the Left hasn’t figured out how to connect with the public in its fight to unseat Trump and counter his agenda. Lost, even in the article itself, is the basic problem with hitching your entire team to a “culture war” mind set – a problem highlighted by the Atlantic article’s stats.

In short, most Americans seem unlikely and even resistant to being swayed by a culture-war message. Especially, I’d surmise, one as strident as that put forth by today’s progressive activists. I’d venture to say the Left’s problem is that most people don’t perceive the state of our culture as being as dire as the Left tells them it is. Were we to take the messaging whole cloth, we’d actually believe that America was teetering on becoming a racist, anti-woman hell hole, where rich white men light cigars with hundred dollar bills as they chortle over their gulags and breeding stock. Most people, it appears, are hearing the progressive hyperbole and finding them at odds with the reality they witness every day. Every action taken by this government will, we are warned, kill us all, or failing that, make the 1% richer while making the rest of us poorer.

Funny thing about that 1%. Turns out that the “progressive activist” ranks are stocked with 1%ers, or near-1%ers. They are much more likely to be rich, highly educated, and white. There’s a nasty reality to that statistic. When you’re rich, highly educated, and white, you’re less likely to be personally affected by the big-government social policies you advocate when they go wrong. Public education, despite decades of progressive dominance and ever-growing money-per-child, is an embarrassing failure. Minority family structures have been disintegrating for decades, coincident with the growth of progressive “help” to those communities. Ever-growing government involvement in health care and health insurance is making things worse instead of better. Welfare programs “trap” the poor and working classes and hamper upward economic mobility. None of these or countless other examples affect the ranks of progressive activists all that much, and so they certainly don’t feel the pressure to reassess what they believe to be true.

People are tired of the Left’s harangues. About the only thing the Left has going right now is Trump’s boorish, scatter-gun manner, which is working against his list of achievements in deregulation, taxation, some parts of foreign policy, etc. Personal disdain for Trump, and anything they can connect to Trump, is about the only point of leverage the Left has outside its echo chambers.

While the mid-term election results remain to be seen, and may shed some new light on the state of the nation, it does seem as if the Left’s ideological filter chickens are coming home to roost. When you are taught to see the world only one way, when you’re positive it’s correct, and when you do it long enough, if that way doesn’t align with reality or with winning elections, you’re going to have a really hard time changing it to fit reality. And, when your philosophy demands you scream that the sky is falling whenever something doesn’t go exactly as you demand, it should be no surprise that others see Chicken Little.

A final note. There is a caravan of Central Americans marching through Mexico, determined to enter the US. I’m a staunchly pro-immigration, open-borders type, and even I think that this is a problem. The nation thrives on robust immigration, and indeed we need it, but a nation that doesn’t control its borders is not a nation, and immigrating here should be a privilege offered to many but denied to some. Watch the progressives, however, oppose rejection of this attempt at invasion, just because they only know that they must support the opposite of anything Trump does. Who out there thinks it’s a good idea to simply open the gates and let them come on in, other than the outlier core of progressive activists? About the only thing I can think of is that they’re hoping for an optically unpalatable response by the administration, as in photo ops with babies being taken from their screaming mothers by black-clad, armored jackboots. But, again, what’s the message therein, and how does that message sit with the exhausted majority? Who among us other than those who live in the 8% world think that simply letting this caravan march across the border is wise?

The nation doesn’t do well under unfettered one-party rule. It needs a rational opposition party to engender compromise and to counterweigh any tendencies in the party-in-charge towards excess. The lack of such rationality is a Bad Thing, not just for the Democrats, but for the nation as a whole, and it’s motivating the Right towards excessive hard-line as well. Change happens easiest in the party that’s not in power, and it’s the Democrats who need to change their message away from that which took them out of power. Unfortunately, they seem unrelentingly attached to their message, and continue to double-down on it instead.

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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