The Inevitable Comeuppance of the Left
Who would have thought the apocalypse could be so promising, and so soon? At the very moment that so many of the country’s institutions and leaders are wreaking havoc on our history, ideals, and constitutional rights, the feeling grows that something good is coming. Not, of course, something good for everyone. Certainly not for the media, or Big Tech, both of whom have stripped journalism, and free speech as well, down to nothing. Nor for the activists and academics pushing racist and deeply undemocratic concepts like “critical race theory” and identity politics, but something good for a much larger entity. Call it the country.
Though very few people have a deep understanding of the constitution or constitutional caselaw, the vast majority have a moral and intuitive understanding of the value of free speech, for themselves and others, and also of fair play. Indeed, this is true of most everyone with the exception of psychologically deformed activists and ideologues, whose numbers are but a drop in the bucket compared to the people as a whole. And this is why there is light at the end of the dark tunnel that our country is in now.
But two things first: You have to look for evidence of that light, and you have to have the courage to resist awhile longer that which is at hand. The sad but unavoidable truth is that the country is in peril right now because of the assault by the left on our constitutional rights and democratic traditions. Of course, the left has always been about such things, but in recent years it has captured liberalism as formerly practiced by Democrats, the media, and academics.
In consequence, there are few liberals around anymore. Most have died, retired, or been cowed into silence by the howling mobs at the gates who, practicing intimidation and cancel culture, exercise their power by orders of magnitude greater than their numbers or their intellect.
So with all of that, what’s the good news? Perhaps most notably, it is that the left and its confederates are promoting theories and policies that are despised not only by conservatives and libertarians, but by a growing number of people among the liberal diaspora.
Take, for instance, Substack, the email newsletter platform. Having attracted journalistic emigres from publications like the New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Intercept, and New York magazine, Substack is becoming a kind of American samizdat, a sanctuary where writers can write without bosses, or the fear of censorship.
Among the things that Substack journalists like Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Bari Weiss, and Andrew Sullivan have written are withering criticisms of woke culture and its offspring. Indeed, their denunciations of things like identity politics, the 1619 Project, and cancel culture are among the best, if not the best, being written today.
Take, for instance, this Greenwald quotation in a piece about cancel culture:
A new and rapidly growing journalistic beat has arisen over the last several years that can best be described as an unholy mix of junior high hall-monitor tattling and Stasi-like citizen surveillance. It is half adolescent and half malevolent. Its primary objectives are control, censorship, and the destruction of reputations for fun and power. Though its epicenter is the largest corporate media outlets, it is the very antithesis of journalism.
Make no mistake, with the arguable exception of Andrew Sullivan, these people are not conservatives. They are liberals, and that is precisely why they are so important right now.
Which is not to say that there aren’t other groups of people who have recently denounced the left. Take, for instance, the French! In recent days French intellectuals and government leaders have come out squarely against America’s “out of control leftism and cancel culture.” As reported in the Daily Mail, “They are arguing that American ideas on race, gender, and post-colonialism—especially those coming from U.S. universities—are undermining French society and are an attack on French heritage.”
Another glimpse of a better future can be seen in the analyses of the 2020 presidential election results, and the significant increase in the percentage of blacks and (especially) Hispanics who voted for Trump. As reported in the New Yorker, “Many Americans were surprised when it became clear that Trump had done better than expected among Latinos. In places such as South Florida and South Texas, he did much better, but all across the country Trump won a greater share of the Latino vote than he did four years ago.”
Not only does this put the lie to claims of Trump’s “racism,” it speaks louder than words about Hispanics’ diverse political views and faith in themselves and in the promise of America, the very opposite of identity politics.
Yet another harbinger of our coming escape from the left can be seen in the widespread criticism of the New York Times, which these days scarcely resembles a newspaper at all, and in the growth of right-of-center publications, online and off.
The esteemed British magazine, Spectator, launched a U.S. website in 2018 and a monthly print magazine here a year later. It is, simply put, the best magazine in the country now, covering politics and culture with a flair and perception not seen in other publications, and it routinely eviscerates the left.
Other outlets, such as American Greatness, the Federalist, Quillette (an Australian online magazine), Tablet, City Journal, and the newly invigorated Washington Examiner are all doing terrific things. So too is the original work published in Real Clear Investigations (part of the RealClear family).
As we witness the many banalities issuing from Biden, the fanatics in the House and Senate, and our major media acting as wanton propagandists, it would be easy to despair of the country’s future. But as it says in the song, it’s a long way to Tipperary for America’s radical leftists, and the bet here is that before they get there they’ll be undone by their betters on the center-right.
Patrick Maines is the president emeritus of The Media Institute, one of the country’s leading First Amendment think tanks. While at the Institute, Maines was the architect of the independent national celebration called Free Speech Week, now in its fifteenth year.