Every day it seems the world gets wackier — and America weaker. The wackiness is due to a virulent brand of progressivism that has a stranglehold on the Democratic party. As media focus on the alleged extremist elements of the Republican party, the real extremism of the progressive Left is largely ignored. Its impact on our economy and culture is dramatic and ongoing.
Space does not allow a complete analysis of this formidable movement. Plenty of books will be devoted to the phenomenon over the coming years. Most will accurately credit Barack Obama as the movement’s charismatic leader. Yet some (mostly Republicans) maintain a state of denial. For those in need of additional context or, alternatively, a large bucket of ice water over the head, some introspection is in order.
It seems that a new generation of our best and brightest have adopted the utopian vision of an offenseless society: a place where politically correct speech codes ensure that hypersensitive young people will not be confronted with troublesome, angst-inducing dissent. Yes, that former First Amendment–friendly America (particularly American campus life) that invited dissent is now so 1960s. This, my friend, is America circa 2015, where you’d better watch your p’s and q’s lest a trigger warning terminates your conversation — and get you expelled, fired, or fined for your “insensitivity.” Don’t think such nonsense has struck a chord with young people? A recent “Notable & Quotable” piece in the Wall Street Journal (October 22) says it all:
By a margin of 51 percent to 36 percent, students favor their school having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty. Sixty-three percent favor requiring professors to employ “trigger warnings” to alert students to material that might be discomfiting. One-third of the students polled could not identify the First Amendment as the part of the Constitution that dealt with free speech. Thirty-five percent said that the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech,” while 30 percent of self-identified liberal students say the First Amendment is outdated.
A progressive anti-Israel bias has been clear since Day One of the Obama administration. At the outset of Obama’s first term, “pre-1967 borders” was the official American position in Israeli–Palestinian “peace” negotiations. Although it proved to be short-lived, this pro-Palestinian talking point set the tone for an ongoing dysfunctional relationship between Messrs. Obama and Netanyahu — a supposed partnership that was further degraded during an uncomfortable dressing-down of a clearly agitated sitting American president in the Oval Office in May 2011. Their patch-up meeting of recent days was just that. They realize that they need each other despite their terrible chemistry.
Now fast-forward to the latest round of Palestinian terrorist attacks (mostly stabbings this time) against Israeli soldiers and civilians. What is transparently yet another cycle of hatred and violence directed against the Jewish state has been met with the now-familiar language of “moral equivalence” from the president and his acolytes. For context, check out Secretary of State John Kerry’s promise not to “point fingers from afar,” as though there were two equally culpable “culprits.”
Such rhetoric is maddening given the Palestinian unwillingness to engage in serious peace negotiations. But drawing comparisons between Israeli defensive actions and Palestinian terrorism is wholly consistent with the anti-Israel, anti-Zionist plank within modern progressivism, a plank supported openly at many universities and suborned by their administrations. That such nonsense is often repeated by left-leaning, secular (and not so Zionist) Jews is indeed convenient for Obama/Kerry Democrats. That this dangerous mindset generates few repercussions for the Democratic party and its candidates is mind-boggling. At the same time, the well-established fear and demonization of the (Republican) religious Right among liberal non-Orthodox Jews proceeds unabated. Talk about having your cake and eating it too!
Alternatively, it’s good to know that the president and the former secretary of state were fully engaged in throwing all available public resources at the capture and punishment of that guy who published the inflammatory anti-Muslim video that started the . . . oh, that really didn’t happen. Such nonsense was floated solely to perpetuate the (false) perception that Islamic terrorism was finally on defense during a tense presidential campaign.
We throw the term “sanctuary city” around so lightly today, it’s now part of our lexicon. This is a big mistake, as familiarity breeds acceptance. But exactly what is it we are to accept? For the Left, it’s about a selective approach to federal immigration law. In other words, we (fill in the agency or the state) will unilaterally decide the extent to which federal law will be recognized. It’s federalism gone mad, as though the entire body of federal immigration law were there as a mere suggestion — to be acknowledged only according to the whims of local government.
Of course, those messy felonies committed by repeat offenders of our immigration laws can make for embarrassing headlines. And who needs Fox News snooping around asking uncomfortable questions about the criminal records of our latest (illegal) perp?
Today’s progressives are all about the needs of illegal immigrants, not so much conventional notions of sovereignty and the rule of law.
Nevertheless, today’s progressives are all about the needs of illegal immigrants, not so much conventional notions of sovereignty and the rule of law. For the progressives, “open borders” is the clarion call. Victims such as Kate Steinle in San Francisco (and so many others) are but unfortunate collateral damage.
Coalition politics surrounding the concept is equally bizarre, as bedrock Democratic constituencies such as African American and (most) Hispanic groups march in lockstep to the party line — despite clear evidence that illegal labor tends to crowd marginal workers out of the workplace.
For those who want to get their heads around the real reason for Donald Trump’s high standing in the polls, here it is. Reaffirming American sovereignty is still a winner — at least between the coasts.
Black Lives Matter! What should be so simple is made so complex by a loud yet relatively small minority of cop detractors. For starters, everyone must recognize the hostility toward police (including African-American police) in our most marginal communities. Community policing and constant engagement are obvious parts of the answer to their problems, as is meaningful re-entry assistance and justice reform that reduces possession offenses. The rare instances of police brutality must be dealt with through a transparent criminal-justice system. And we must not recoil from the reality of black-on-black crime, the creeping poison of fatherlessness, and multi-generational dysfunction within so many of our public-school systems.
RELATED: #BlackLivesMatter Costs Black Lives
All very real problems. All receptive to very real solutions. But “Black Lives Matter” is not a real solution. Its rhetoric is hateful and incendiary. Its goals are divisive. The fact that the Democratic party now seeks to associate itself with such a group says all you need to know about its present preoccupation with identity politics.There is no better time to remedy all of this wackiness than the forthcoming race for president. The Democrats will certainly nominate Hillary Clinton — she of nimble mind and ever-more-nimble views. She would most certainly continue the Obama era’s hyper-progressivism. Accordingly, and despite the GOP’s considerable stumblings of late, it is imperative that a Republican be returned to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Only then will we have a chance to stem the considerable damage inflicted on our culture by an increasingly destructive progressive tide.
In other words, time to buck up . . . and get to work.
— Robert Ehrlich is the former governor of Maryland.