It’s been really intriguing to see not only the rise of Trump but the reaction to him – from all sides. Though this may be oversimplifying a bit much, it’s safe to say that in broad strokes the right has accepted the rise of Trump and alt-right populism. That’s probably not a good thing, not least because it erodes the very things conservatism stands for. They did it for a variety of reasons, most of them relating to self-preservation and a lesser-of-two-evils calculation. But that’s a subject for another article.
What has been far more interesting than the mainstream right’s shift from rejecting to largely accepting Trump is the way the left has absolutely lost its mind in rejecting him. Don’t get me wrong – I am no fan of Trump. Despite my misgivings on the man and some of his policies, not to mention his character, it’s been both amusing and horrifying to see the left self-destruct over him. I don’t need to elaborate too much. The recent controversy in Berkeley is the greatest example. In response to some admittedly concerning right-wing speakers, the left has decided to throw “protests” that sometimes turn into flat-out riots. Some were as early as three days after the results.
This alienates the average voter and, in fact, makes Trump and the alt-right look pretty okay by comparison. At least the right isn’t actively breaking windows. In fact, if anything, the left is securing Trump’s re-election.
The part of me that’s probably a little sadistic is okay with this.
The part of me that likes limited governments that exist to protect human rights is freaking out. There are a few reasons why, but the most important is this:
The Left keeps the Right accountable
It does. The right keeps the left accountable, too. The fundamental problem of democracy is that majorities tend to be loud, against their own actual interest, and they get in the way of legitimate progress. Not to mention they also tend to step on a lot of rights of minorities in the process. James Madison argued, way, way back in the 1700’s, that the best way to solve that problem is to extend the republic. By making a republic larger, it’s much harder to form a majority faction, and by extension harder to tread on the rights of minorities.
The left and the right are essentially two sides of the political society vying for the spot as a majority faction. Having to fight for that spot drives them both to the center to pick up the stragglers who either don’t know much about policy (a lot of people) or who don’t easily fit the standard molds of left and right.
By destroying its credibility with average Americans, the left has made itself a laughingstock, not to mention dangerous to the entirety of American free society. This will let the right make a clean sweep for a long time coming. While the left has some hope, much of the things which should be letting them mop the floor with the right in general and Republicans in particular are completely negated by their own actions. It’s not like Trump won by being the best candidate ever. He probably won at least partly because his followers threw less fits.
The left needs to survive. But how? Well…
To survive, the Left must move toward liberty in general (but especially in economics), and should ease up on abortion.
I’m going to take these backwards, with the second point first: Abortion.
This is a huge compromise for many on the left. For the last several decades of American politics, abortion has been a litmus test. Pro-life? Right-wing. Pro-choice? Left-wing. This may sound totally crazy, to suggest that the left would let go of a principle many of them hold strongly. But it’s not that they have to stop caring about ‘reproductive rights’ as they term it. Rather, they should just stop making it the litmus test for being on the left.
The fact of the matter is that most Americans think Roe v. Wade should not be overturned, and that’s not likely to happen any time soon if ever. Fear-mongering by the left and the vilification of pro-lifers alienate a large part of the population. Even though they think that Roe v. Wade shouldn’t be overturned, many Americans still think that abortion is morally wrong. To constantly challenge that drives them to the right in a way that nothing else could. To sum all that up:
Easing up on abortion would be a quick way to win over those voters who are already inclined toward the left without compromising that pro-choice principle.
To move on to the second point, it’s easy to see that a large part of the left’s self-destruction is rooted in the ideology of Marx and others. Most Americans are smart enough to see that both communism and socialism will inevitably end in tyranny. And peddling the lie that ‘democratic socialism’ had any difference from other socialist regimes is simply false. Most socialist dictators came to power through democratic means. It’s also absurd to claim that socialism is fundamentally different and less dangerous than communism (the Leninist sort, not the Rousseau-esque anarcho-communism you see these days).
Ayn Rand, who was often wrong but had lived under a communist regime and knew about how that tended to go, once said it this way:
“There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialism—by vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide.”
The move by the left toward socialism, in an era when the average person is well aware of the evils of communist and socialist regimes abroad, is political suicide. All regimes move inexorably toward state control, and I’m sure one day America will too. However, I sincerely doubt that it will happen any time soon. I certainly hope not. The American people simply won’t let it.
If the left wants to have any chance at 2024, it needs to get its act together by 2020. That means moving away from socialism and easing up on abortion.
The fact of the matter is that the left had a real chance to buckle down and look like the professional in the room. It has not. The left’s total demise would be a disaster for America. I sincerely hope that they start moving toward liberty – for everyone’s sake.