Earlier this week I heard Tucker Carlson complain to a Democratic operative that the Democrats repeatedly play the race card against Republican candidates. According to Carlson, this tactic heightens “racial division,” and so it’s unfortunate that Democrats carry on this way.
If Carlson’s interlocutor would have answered honestly, he would have explained that his party appeals to racial and other resentments because it works like a charm in elections.
Throughout Western democracies the politics of grievance is enjoying brilliant electoral success. In the United States, Canada and Western Europe, growing coalitions of grievance groups, including racial minorities, feminist LGBT activists and Muslims — usually in close alliance with the expanding public sector — have gained enormous influence. In most Western countries these groups have become both culturally and educationally dominant and politically almost unbeatable.
What happened to U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama last night was at least partly brought on by the candidate’s verbal gaffes and the revelations about his sexual scandals 40 years ago. But Moore lost to the same opposition forces that wiped out an establishment Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ed Gillespie, in Virginia on November 7. Record turnouts by blacks, government workers, LGBT activists and the leftward turn of college-educated and culturally radicalized women resulted in a landslide for the Left in Virginia, and one that carried well beyond the race for governor, into the state legislature and county offices.
Of course the Never-Trumpers and the Democratic media were quick to blame the Virginia debacle on Trump and his sagging popularity numbers. But this may miss a more relevant point: Trump is unpopular because he’s widely perceived as being a sexist and racist and (oh yes) colluding with Russian President Vladimir Putin (a charge for which there is absolutely no evidence). In other words, Trump is widely disliked for being on the Right socially and culturally and for failing to recite dutifully certain politically-correct formulas that more centrist Republicans (who are also accused of being racists and sexists) will pronounce at the drop of a hat.
For example, while the authorized conservative media led by National Review generally supported the removal of Confederate memorial statues, Trump called for preserving them. When centrist Republicans try to mollify feminists and black critics, Trump unceremoniously goes after them. Although I personally applaud such stands, they do nothing to help one’s popularity in a country that is veering sharply leftward and in which all the educational institutions and the entertainment industry, as well as most of the media, are in leftist hands.
The conservative establishment has done nothing I can think of to arrest this development, and at least on social questions, like treating gay marriage as a settled issue and beating up periodically on the long dead Confederacy, it has worked overtime to accommodate the Left. But even if the Right were what Judge Moore would like it to be, I couldn’t see it going anywhere in contemporary America — or for that matter contemporary Germany or Canada.
The other side holds the good cards, and as immigration goes forward and as more and more young people are exposed to our educational and cultural institutions, I think the Left will become even stronger.
Despite what his advocates tell us, the “people” did not overwhelmingly vote for Donald Trump as president.
More than two million more votes went to his thoroughly unlikeable Democratic opponents, who by Election Day last year was mired in scandal. And let me be clear about what I mean by “the Left.” I’m not referring to Marxists or even socialists. Even those politicians to whom such labels are attached are most certainly not demanding the nationalization of productive forces or most other traditional socialist measures.
These supposed progressives just want more government constraints on commerce and more give-away programs aimed at Democratic constituencies. It is part of the foolishness of our conservative establishment to describe the other side as “socialist” even when that side enjoys the solid support of corporate executives both here and in Europe. The main threat to our diminishing freedoms are not “socialists,” but the the massive social control undertaken by the government on behalf of our now dominant grievance groups.
And I see no indication that this control on our lives will stop any time soon.
Right now there are new calls from the Democrats, who have the wind at their backs, for further government efforts to fight whatever the media and Democratic leaders define as “sexual harassment.” And I’m sure the Republican establishment will be cool with whatever the other side proposes, because it is understandably concerned with hemorrhaging more votes among college-educated women. Although I’m no big fan of the GOP leadership, I can fully appreciate their fear of angering their own left-trending constituency.
Moreover, I see no way out of the growing domination of this post-socialist Left, except for allowing it to run its course. Sooner or later the protesting elements will fall out among themselves. Except for a shared enemy, which is white, male and Christian, there is nothing much holding together this alliance of the aggrieved. It is hard to imagine that it will last forever, since so many of the groups it embraces here and in Europe have conflicting interests and sentiments. Will islamic fundamentalists, Black Lives Matter, LGBT and feminists remain united in the face of a common threat?
Unfortunately for this makeshift alliance it’s not even apparent that it faces any kind of threat, except for a minority that has not yet undergone sensitivity training. Real sources of conflict may lie within the ranks of the multicultural Left; and these seeds of discord may become a problem as the self-proclaimed victims try to divide power among themselves. If and when this alliance does show signs of disintegration, one can only hope it will not be too late to save our battered civilization.
Paul Gottfried is a retired political historian.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.