My Smug, Gloating, Patronizing Listicle to Help Progressives
My quest to get back to my Army weight was interrupted on a brisk Sunday night, when the health club TVs broadcast CNN’s chatty report of a crowded gathering of progressives in Los Angeles.
“No more whining!” cries a lefty Californian organizer, insisting that there has to be a real progressive movement as strong and original in its thinking as the Trump/Tea Party movement – which made me laugh; the Tea Party movement was more Cruz. LA liberals aren’t particularly good about small details with respect to conservatives, a group representing zero people they deal with on a daily basis.
It would be easy for me—a Trump supporter who liked Cruz but spotted the Donald’s winning combination early on—to pull up a lawn chair and a bucket of popcorn and watch clueless Che wannabes flail and make fools of themselves. Los Angeles, after all, was a place I left like a refugee, having experienced both Clintonista racketeering and incredible lefty racism there, so I was within my rights to gloat somewhat.
But that’s too easy. None of the 136 “scholars and writers for Trump,” among whom I am counted, could go for the easy route. I like to say that we rogue pro-Trump intellectuals (the deplorable hacks) will go down in history as even cooler than the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae.
Also, my wife belongs to the Green Party. I co-authored both a recent book (Jephthah’s Children) and a recent play (Sunlight) with progressive women—Brittany Klein, a self-disclosed Obama voter who went Trump this year, and Michelle Shocked, a Sanders supporter, respectively. Therefore, for the sake of these classy ladies, I owe an advice column for progressives like the people assembled at the Los Angeles confab.
If I can do it, you can too
I was once a thirtysomething grad student angry about the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq. There are parallels between the rush to invade Iraq and the rush to legalize same-sex marriage, worth considering. I opposed Bush but what replaced him? During eight years of Obama, the “other side” was much worse. I kept my spirits up and contributed to a new movement that eventually crystallized into Donald J. Trump.
Progressives who feel beleaguered should strive to replicate what happened on the conservative side of the dial, because it feels great. The night Trump won, I felt as though sixteen years of discouragement suddenly lifted and my perseverance paid off. As someone who tasted this triumph, I am happy to share my top six pointers with aspiring progressives.
- Dump LGBT
The LGBT movement is to the left what neocons are to the right. For too long, warmongering Republicans kept conservatives captive to their agenda by drawing on the stereotype that supporting them was in our DNA. “I bomb, therefore I am,” was supposed to be a non-negotiable credo of the right. And if we didn’t support foreign expansionism, we hated soldiers or we hated America.
The LGBT movement is similar on the left. The focus on gay and lesbian liberation, then trans equality (whatever that means), has destroyed the left’s ability to focus on the plight of the common man. A tiny fraction of the world population, based in the West, redefines family and dismantles religious chastity for billions of people who depend on traditional kinship, strong gender identity, and sexual restraint to survive in a world where they cannot rely on states to feed them. Does that sound like the left at its best? Of course not. It’s imperialism.
Even domestically, the LGBT agenda has stolen the focus from women’s rights, true civil rights, and especially class—the thing that the left never talks about anymore. To push LGBT agendas, the left must be constantly at war with religion and common sense, policing language to root out “judgment” and stamp out hate (an impossible dream). They must tell girls to be comfortable disrobing in front of trans women with penises in locker rooms, and assure everyone that millions of children will be fine without a mom and dad. The latter clashes with the realities of what children coming out of gay homes actually say, and even the highest profile examples of gay parents like Rosie O’Donnell, Elton John, and Marion Zimmer Bradley.
To imagine a left not smothered in rainbow flags might be difficult right now—but it was once harder to imagine a right-wing movement not itching to jump into war in the Middle East.
- Celebrate Manhood
Hillary Clinton’s sex did matter—but it’s complicated. Female trailblazers who go on to break the highest glass ceiling tend to do well as tough rightish gals like Maggie Thatcher, Golda Meir, or Indira Gandhi. People flock to the Elizabeth, Victoria, or Catherine who protects her nation with the ferocity of a Mama Grizzly (pace Sarah Palin). Liberal women who foreground the nurturing, all-forgiving, and bleeding-heart stereotype of womanhood seem likely to flop as leaders even if they can be marvelous wives, mothers, and neighbors. This was Hillary’s dilemma: she wanted to be the first woman president by mirroring soft veneers associated with women.
I am not ashamed to say that I was drawn to Donald J. Trump because he is manly. He doesn’t apologize, he speaks bluntly, he fights, he knows how to handle women (even two ex-wives and a current wife), and he exudes confidence. The reality is that people are drawn to leaders who exhibit these classically masculine attributes. Nothing is going to change the nature of humanity; we like firemen, soldiers, boxers, captains of industry, and a manly Jesus strong enough to carry a cross without curling up in a ball and crying.
During Obama’s presidency, the left sank into a mire of gender confusion, pushing Pajama Boy, male feminism, and hysterically anti-male conduct codes at schools. The endless campaigns against bullying and sexual harassment have seemingly criminalized masculinity. Leftists erred in thinking that the more men repulsed their attempts to feminize them, the more people needed to nag them about sexism and subject them to even more female-centric forms of institutional control: counseling, speech codes, classroom conduct, etiquette, etc.
Imagine a left that isn’t afraid of men. Whatever you picture will be far better than the progressivism of today.
- Stop trying to own racial issues
At California State University-Northridge for eight years, I learned the hard way that leftists are terrible at race. I was literally at a Hispanic-Serving Institution that elevated only the crudest Latinos while systematically excluding Latinos who had advanced credentials in important humanities fields like English.
Every racial group the left claims to champion is actually utterly opposed to most of what the left believes. African Americans are largely strict Protestants, Muslims are extremely conservative and religiously exclusionary, Asian Americans refute the leftist myth that upward mobility through hard work is impossible, and Latinos come from macho Catholic countries that enjoy cockfighting, jiggling showgirls in high heels, and a fattening non-vegetarian diet. While the left may be able to frighten these groups into voting for Democrats by telling them the Republicans want to kill them all, this is not a sustainable position on race. The left, driven by the dreams of yoga aficionados and tattooed girls with pink hair, is never able to lose their inner desire to change these minority groups into something more like themselves.
The left doesn’t know these groups because they only interact with them in fake, politically contrived circumstances. It is likely that leftists would start disliking them if they really got to the heart of people of color.
So liberals need to stop playing the race card. Talk about politics in other terms. Let those racial groups gather and set up leaders or spokespeople if they really want to, but lefties need to stop acting like they own people of color, since that’s the mindset that got Democrats into trouble before the Civil War!
- Talk about class again
Just look back to 2012, when Romney’s comment about the lower 47% of the country lost him a presidential election. Where have those days gone? Hillary Clinton trucked with Internet millionaires, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga, while the über-wealthy Donald Trump won the support of Roseanne Barr and actually addressed the needs of unemployed people in Niagara Falls and Appleton (both of which he won!)
The left could serve an important purpose if leftists took on class inequality in all its brutal reality. This means valuing people who don’t go to college or who don’t buy into the prestige system of the university hierarchy. This means diverting resources away from the wonky jobs that proliferate in the beltway (“analyst,” “consultant,” “media expert,” “publicist,” etc.) to people who make things. And no, this does not mean just funding more startups in Silicon Valley to encourage more cell phone apps or web browser accessories. It means teaching people how to replace brake pads, install pipes and electrical wiring, scrub floors, and cook lasagna … for a living, as a trade.
- Part ways with academia
The left’s near total domination of the university system was once an advantage. It allowed three generations of left-of-center academics to brainwash hundreds of millions of Americans. But it has all broken down now, and it’s backfiring. The universities have become the biggest swamp of all, driving massive social inequality, under-educating students, plundering parents and taxpayers for trillions. It is hard to picture a left that isn’t completely driven by paid intellectuals, but here it is useful to note that the Trump revolution happened away from the leafy quads.
“The revolution will not count for credit.” If the academy turns left, turn right. If the academy turns right, turn left. Whatever the professors do, true progressives need to veer in the opposite direction. Going forward, any time they hand over their movement to Harvard and Stanford experts, they are tainted by academia’s embarrassing problems, of which the greatest is the present-day academy’s hatred of free speech, intellectual diversity, and democracy.
- Shut up and listen
Those of us who rode the Trump train had become very good listeners by the time Trump emerged as a viable candidate. That’s because one commonality uniting us was our past experience having been ignored, silenced, and rendered invisible. We learned how to listen because we weren’t allowed to speak. I, for one, was actually on GLAAD’s blacklist of people forbidden to speak in a public venue at all. Years of being gagged taught us to use our ears. We realized that by listening, we could figure out where pockets of people sympathetic to us were hiding. We could read between the lines when CNN or some polling racket tried to tell us that our dreams were unattainable. We developed a savvy ability to deconstruct propaganda being thrown at us. And people didn’t really know who we were or what we were thinking, so we benefited from the element of surprise.
Listening is not a strong suit for the left. They have to shut up and listen because their way out of the wilderness has yet to be revealed to them. None of us can predict what the new-New Left will look like. Like Trump’s revolution, it will develop its contours against expectations, on a timetable we cannot schedule with certainty years before the fact. Hopeful leftists will have to live with the protective cover of silence for a while and be open to new lines of action they might have never dreamed of. Perhaps they will not be leftists in the end, but something else entirely.
Since I must now go to bed next to my beloved Green Party wife, I can say, I love the left enough to hope they will become something much better than Hillary Clinton.
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