February 9, 2019
A good friend of mine commended to me this article by Mark Tapson, and wanted to know what I thought about it.
Initially, I'd responded in twitter-like fashion that it was "a solid article by an obvious conservative reminding us right-wingers what we are fighting against...and yet something about this article doesn't sit right with me; I will have to think about it and get back to you."
The article is certainly not wrong prima facie. There is no question, for example, regarding the evil wrought by Nazism and Communism, both of which were left-wing, both of which were statist, and both of which were certainly totalitarian. The nightmares of the Nazi regime were self-evident; the nightmares of the Communist regime, not quite so much but still very real and very ably documented by the great Alexandr Solzenitsyn in his timeless Gulag Archipelago.
There is no question that many on the Left are motivated by hatred of wealth and success, and power exercised in a conservative bent. What the Left did to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, while perhaps not Tapson's Molochian evil of "blood besmear'd with human sacrifice," certainly represents a new low in American politics. Virginia Governor Northam's apparent endorsement of the murder of live infants on the delivery room table shocks the conscience of the nation — though to be fair, the Governor claims to have been misunderstood and — as the Left so often does to conservatives — taken out of context.
The Democrat Party more often than not takes the side of chaos and destruction — a prime example was the mayor of Baltimore's infamous comment that the thugs who rioted after the death of Freddy Gray in 2015 "...needed space to destroy things." Where the Democrat Party doesn't take the side of chaos or destruction, it often fails to unequivocally condemn these, e.g. the party cannot bring itself to repudiate in no uncertain terms the destruction of private property wrought by Antifa or the havoc wreaked when conservatives such as Ben Shapiro, Dennis Prager, or Dr. Jordan Peterson speak at universities — the sense of "whataboutism" pervades the Left's response — a knee-jerk appeal to the vulgarity of President Trump or to the supposed racism he engenders by failing to sufficiently "atone" for the events in Charlottesville, even though he had no role in those events. Ironically, this is the only example of supposed Trump's "racism" the Left seems to be able to muster.
Finally, it may even be said that the Democrat party's failure to speak out against Grand Canyon University's banning of conservative speech in the name of Christ's Sermon on the Mount is in some sense evil — Christ blesses peacemakers whose "peace" demands conservatives shut up!
So if Mark Tapson's article rings true, what is bothersome about it?
There is a sense in which Americans shouldn't want this article to be true. The article is, to be clever by half, too true. If everything about the Left (and Mr. Tapson does lump in the entire Democrat party in with "the Left" here) written here is true, then the author is right — conservatives who try to reason with the Left and engage them in fair-and-square policy debates are engaging in a failed strategy. If we can't debate as equals, then there's no where else to go. The American experiment is over.
The question before us, then, does everything written about the Left here apply to the Democrat Party, their leadership, and their rank and file members? Is each and every Democrat in America operating from a "hate-filled mob mentality, a bloodlust for power, and a complete absence of moral boundaries?" While I agree with the author that we "cannot afford a lack of moral clarity," we ourselves lack moral clarity if we adopt a "ready, fire, aim" mentality.
Dennis Prager has often articulated differences between liberals and leftists, though he has not always been perfectly consistent about it. Mr. Prager uses the example that whereas liberals believe a person's race is intrinsically insignificant, the Left believes a person's race is intrinsically significant. Whereas liberals believe that free speech is the most important American right — after all, it was a liberal who first said, "I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it" — the Left believes in censorship of speech with which they disagree — the censorship justified so as "not to offend," to "promote safe spaces," and to make people "feel included." Whereas the liberal condemns riotous behavior and the wanton destruction of private property, the Left cannot seem to bring itself to do so in part because it has little regard for private property.
I would like to believe that Prager is right, that there are non-Leftist Democrats, and that these abhor the evil that has been done in their name. But where are they? Certainly the Democrat Party leadership seems to have run off a left-wing cliff: new youth like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez rise to claim their undeniable right to plunge headlong into the dark waters of unabashed collectivism.
Like the famous UFO poster, I want to believe, but it's really difficult. When I look at social media, the mainstream media, blogs, and so on, there is simply no more middle ground on the left side of the political spectrum. The center-left that existed 20 years ago — Bill Clinton's Third Way party which counted among its members a score or more of moderate pro-life Democrats — has now gone the way of all flesh; in their place we have before us a cast of characters whose views would make Karl Marx and Saul Alinsky blush. The generation of new Leftists spearheaded by Ms. Ocasio-Cortez simply refuses to reason with and indeed desires to silence its opposition, much less concede a single point to them; while at the same time this so-called new Left brings forward for serious consideration outlandish and unrealistic programs such as the Green New Deal.
Even with her outsized Twitter megaphone, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is just one of 535 members of Congress and doesn't hold "real" power such as the Speaker's gavel. But the Left does not regard its own as individuals in their own right — the Left is collectivist, and it loves ideas more than people. People on the Left are expendable pawns (case in point, Al Franken). It is not so much the ascendance of Ocasio-Cortez about which I am concerned but rather the ascendance of the Left's ideas, many of which directly threaten individual freedom (economic and otherwise), are received with wild enthusiasm by Ocasio-Cortez's followers and the Democrat party as a whole, and cannot reasonably be debated or disputed by others in her party — either because of fear of the consequences of disagreement, whether they be online shaming, threats or bullying, the spectre of physical violence, or because the rest of the party really does agree with these radical but totally unworkable proposals.
It's important for conservatives to understand that the Left does not share the same goals as conservatives and liberals do. The Left desires to transform America into a socialist state. President Donald Trump and a rather disjointed though still-in-the-majority Republican Party stand in their way. There is little Republicans can do to ease the Democrat Party from the cliff. Without the moderating influence of center-left and conservative Democrats (recall the Blue Dog coalition), the radical Left has hijacked the Democrat Party and is remaking it into the "Marxist-Socialist-Communist Party USA." As Mr. Tapson aptly demonstrates, the results of this transformative process have become plain for all to see.
Ultimately the question is whether it is too late for the party of Andrew Jackson to step back from the brink. I don't believe in one-party rule, even if that party is my own. Healthy politics in America demands no less than two healthy parties. If Tapson is right that it is no longer possible to engage our political opposition in a fair-and-square debate, we really are in trouble. That's why, although my mind thinks Tapson is right, my heart hopes he is not.