In the vast tsunami of leftist grief that has washed over the land in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s shocking presidential victory, no flotsam has been as prevalent as Hollywood gliterrati weeping and screaming and gnashing their teeth while donning only the most stylish and expensive sackcloth. Most recently, near-sextuagenarian Madonna lamented, “I was devastated, surprised, in shock. I haven’t really had a good night’s sleep since he has been elected. We’re f***ed.”
Some of the shock of Trump’s victory is surely due to the bubble that exists in Hollywood and New York, the Pauline Kael–esque sense that nobody could have voted for Trump. But some of it also derives from celebrities’ self-assured belief that they have an outsized impact in the world of politics. Clearly that view infused the Clinton campaign: Hillary trotted out Lena Dunham of Girls fame, she of the false rape accusations and gleeful admissions of sexually abusing her sister, on the campaign trail all year long; Clinton advocates such as Elizabeth Banks took time off from producing bad a cappella sequels to film ads; singers and actors all joined to make a difference by producing a glossy version of Rachel Platten’s maddening “Fight Song.”
But it wasn’t just because these celebrities were rich and out of touch that Americans were put off by them. It’s because those celebrities were the people most likely to judge red-state Americans as rubes — nasties intent on targeting Muslims and gays and blacks and women. The unearned moral superiority of America’s celebrity class rests in their open condemnation of flyover Americans as brutish louts, and their self-parodying belief that they are civil-rights heroes. Hollywood (wrongly) believes that it singlehandedly ended segregation; Hollywood (rightly) believes that it had a heavy hand in promoting same-sex marriage. Hollywood sees itself as the moral vanguard.
Americans reacted badly to that.
Most Americans, not just celebrities, vote as they do because they have a moral vision of themselves and the universe in which they are heroes or victims, never perpetrators. For decades, the Left consistently put front and center its vision of an America in which Republicans were victimizers: Either they were evil racists, or they were John Lithgow–in-Footloose holier-than-thou sexual prudes, or they were old-style Mad Men sexists looking to shove women back into the kitchen. Celebrities helped push these narratives through the stories they told, the movies they filmed, the books they wrote.
And Americans accepted the critiques.
Americans accepted racial equality. Americans celebrated female empowerment. Americans went libertarian on sexual behavior.
And the Left had to go searching for a new civil-rights struggle with which to cram conservatives back into their “victimizer” cubbyhole.
The Left now pushes against civil rights in its ignorant search for the new struggle.
There was, however, one problem: All the good civil-rights issues have been dealt with already. And so the Left, which focuses all of its efforts on social issues, was relegated to pushing crime-increasing myths about the evils of cops; the celebrities were forced to pretend that men peeing next to women was the next great Martin Luther King, Jr.–style struggle; Democrats were forced to march on their next target, not merely church involvement in state, but private beliefs of churchgoers.
And herein lies the biggest problem facing the American Left: America is the most tolerant country in world history. There are no more serious civil-rights struggles for the Left to push. In fact, the Left now pushes against civil rights in its ignorant search for the new struggle: Religious bakers must be destroyed if they won’t bake a cake for a same-sex wedding; young girls must be forced to go to the same bathroom as middle-aged men, hosts on HGTV must be policed for belief in Scripture regarding sexual sin.
No wonder Americans reacted by telling the Left to shove it.That phenomenon could very well continue. The Left has run out of aggressors to target; instead, they’ve become the aggressors, self-righteous morality police dedicated to wiping out dissenting thought. Americans aren’t up for that sort of thing. We think we’re pretty tolerant people, and, by and large, we are. Trump won, at least in part, by refusing to kowtow to the Left’s newest social crusades, in word if not in deed.
In Die Hard, villain Hans Gruber misquotes Plutarch: “And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.” The Left will never recognize that simple fact — and so they will push ever onward, steadily encroaching on liberty and driving a blowback they cannot comprehend.
— Ben Shapiro is the editor in chief of the Daily Wire.