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Critical Mass

Can progressives learn to criticize themselves? Not likely.

There’s a meme on social media that perfectly encapsulates the problems that progressives have in reaching moderate voters these days: “All Democrats have to do is not be insane, and they just can’t do it.” From Green New Deals to promising open borders and free health care for illegal aliens, it seems as if there isn’t a position so far to the left that liberals won’t stake it out—and unabashedly so, as the current crop of Democrat presidential wannabes has made very clear.

That’s why it’s heartening to see that at least a few progressives are attempting the heretofore unthinkable, and actually standing athwart the Marxist drift whilst yelling, “Stop!” For example, in a story that appears in the Wall Street Journal today, lefty activist Ioannis Gatsiounis states, rather provocatively, “We Liberals Need Self-Crtiicism.”

How long do you think it’ll be before this guy gets canceled?

The article starts off by establishing Gatsiounis‘s progressive bona fides:

I’d love to see Donald Trump beaten in 2020…

But then halfway takes somewhat of a fanciful detour:

…and it should be easy enough. His list of accomplishments is short, most Americans express strong disapproval of his behavior, and he has done little to win over people who don’t already support him.

Er, not quite. Trump’s tax cuts and pruning of the regulatory state went a long way toward making America competitive with the rest of the world, which unleashed an impressive expansion of the economy. After eight years of Barack “Less is More” Obama, that’s a rather significant accomplishment. He also did what no Republican Congress had the stones to do, and deprived Planned Parenthood or Title X funding. Lump that in with getting NATO allies to finally pony up and fulfill their defense obligations, and the President’s list of accomplishments isn’t quite the short list Gatsiounis would make it out to be.

With his second point, however, he’s more in the ballpark of truth. Trump’s combative style does alienate people—sometimes needlessly—and makes it a lot harder to expand his base of support. As Gatsiounis points out, though, that’s nothing compared to what progressives do to scare off middle-of-the-road voters.

Part of the problem lies with the unpopular positions prominent Democrats have taken—from decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings to banning private health insurance. The main problem, though, has less to do with policy than with attitude. To many ordinary Americans we appear unhinged, haughty and out of touch.

That’s probably because liberals are unhinged, haughty and out of touch. On top of that, not one of the Democrat presidential frontrunners seems to like the country very much, based on their endless kvetching about how it’s an oppressive place rife with injustice and racism, where white supremacists prowl the streets at will looking for Democrat constituents to victimize. Say what you will about Donald Trump, there’s no doubt he loves America.

Gatsiounis goes on to prescribe some tough-love medicine for progressives that he thinks will help:

First, stop obsessing over identity… [O]ur tendency to insert race, sex and sexual orientation into everything gives the impression that we are more committed to narrow groups than Americans as a whole.

Americans first and foremost, baby! I’m beginning to like the cut of this fellow’s jib.

Second, change the Manichaean outlook. Liberals increasingly tend to shame and “cancel” anyone who doesn’t conform to our thinking on complex social issues. We wield political correctness like a club…

A club that might be coming out for Gatsiounis shortly, but I digress…

Third, cultivate a fuller understanding of justice. Our fanatical embrace of the oppressor-victim narrative finds us quick to assign guilt or innocence based on narrow identity markers… Think of the way progressives believed Jussie Smollett ’s preposterous hate-crime claim and condemned Al Franken without evidence.

Well, except for that picture in which Franken gleefully aped groping Leann Tweeden’s breasts while she slept—but we won’t get into that right now.

Fourth, progressives need to be progressive—pluralistic rather than tribal, compassionate rather than hateful, thoughtful rather than reactive. “Progressive” has become a dirty word to many Americans, more closely associated with intolerance and double standards than with free thought and due process.

That’s because progressivism does not condone free thought. Quite the opposite, progressives ruthlessly enforce a complete conformity of views, with absolutely zero tolerance for even the slightest dissent. As for double standards. . .well, just ask yourself if you think Ralph Northam would still be governor of Virginia if he was a Republican.

Fifth, those who work in the media need to stop abusing their authority. I am grateful for rigorous investigative work that uncovers Mr. Trump’s abuses of power. But there’s a reason so many Americans think much of the media is “fake news”: The left-of-center figures who populate it stop at nothing to demonize their political enemies.

And this. . .this is where I dedicate the next song in our countdown to Mr. Gatsiounis, because he absolutely hits the nail on the head here, making a point that I’ve been grousing on about for years: It’s the leftist news media that have not only enabled this bad behavior from progressives, they have actively encouraged it. If the media reported fairly across the political spectrum, it would go a long way toward discouraging the worst tendencies of both sides. As it stands, however, the media allow the left to get away with murder while casting anything the right does as a dire threat to the Republic. This only encourages extremism all around, which further polarizes the country.

Still, it remains to be seen whether Gatsiounis‘s fellow liberals will heed his advice. If I had to shake the Magic 8-Ball for an answer, though, I’m pretty sure it would say, “Don’t count on it.” Even so, it’s a net positive that he recognizes the need for change. Dare I say it’s a sign of. . .progress?

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