When the so-called best, are a little too close to the worst
By Matthew Fraser, Opinions Editor
Many of us are married to our phones, and through those devices we are locked to the political tides of the day. As a result, a lot of us uncritically fall in line with political tribes that at first glance feel right. People are persuaded by ideas that ring true and appear just. People are drawn into causes that seem like the last stances against the ultimate evils of the hour. But what happens when the team you join is as problematic and certainly more dysfunctional than the enemy? What happens when your side is ideologically fractured? Progressivism has proven itself broken in three crucial areas: a foolish embrasure of race politics, an incredible ability to corrupt good ideas, and a savage willingness to engage in political cannibalism.
When Joe Biden announced that he would seek a woman of colour to be his vice-president, the left swooned in delight. When Biden picked Kamala Harris for the job, a joyous roar celebrated what could be the first female VP, first South-east Asian VP and first black VP. But that’s what happens when race politics outweighs actual political thought and principles.
How is it possible that in the midst of nightly riots about police brutality and heated debates regarding a plan to defund and rectify the police, a former attorney general who joked about sending the mothers of truant children to prison can be celebrated by Democrats as VP? How can someone who previously shot down the idea of legal marijuana (though she seems to have softened) now be lauded by the left? It’s possible when principle plays second fiddle to representation. If the voting public cared more about what you proposed rather than what you look like and who you’re not, Kamala Harris would be hugely unpopular on the left. She is as close to the antithesis of what progressives like Bernie Sanders want without actually being as Republican as one can get. She allowed banks to foreclose early on poor families during the 2008 financial crises, and has been friendly to the prison industrial complex. But it’s all okay. Why? Because to progressives, being a non-white woman who doesn’t support Trump is all it takes to be voted into office. No matter how bad your record as California top cop is, being a minority is more important.
But the thing that underlies the progressive adherence to racial identity is the incredible will to pervert good ideas. It should never be shameful to uplift the downtrodden and aim to level what has historically been a skewed playing field and yet it has been turned into a foolish mockery where substance is overshadowed by flair. Take for example the new breed of anti-racism, in its worse form it has required white people to believe that they are not and may never do enough to make up for the hatreds of the past. It has turned and made out as if people of colour are unable to fend for themselves because every brick in society is imbued with white supremacy.
Indeed, books like Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility aim to provethat even the daily work of “anti-racism” is not enough to right the evil that has been created and perpetuated in this world. Don’t misunderstand me here, racism is clear and sure in this day and age. But to write a book that aims to persuade any white person who reads it that they are but a hair less racist than the Klansmen, or that they should be glad to have their “racist assumptions” pointed out as “feedback” leads to mobs screaming at strangers eating at restaurants—an act that I can assure you does not help my black life.
Finally, there is the habitual cannibalism of the left. Admittedly, there is some irony in me saying this after my Harris critiques, nonetheless it must be said. When people point out the numerous failings of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris or elucidate all of the ways they have been failed by their political party, a savage voice rises to shout them down. As Christo Aivalis details here, the left is more willing to attack an individual that states the party’s missteps than they are to actually work towards victory over Donald Trump. Instead of campaigning and organizing, the left would rather eat its own; and if no other thing has become clear, it’s that the left drives far more people into the arms of Trump than Trump attracts on his own.
For a couple years now, I have been thoroughly disillusioned of progressivism. Some people still follow it (for better or for worse) but it’s long since lost its charm for me. I may agree with the idea of representation in the heights of politics, but I’d much rather have a politician I actually agree with. Not only that, I’d rather the organizations and movements that purport to make our world better actually do so. Still, you can’t get everything you want, so I guess we’re left with a ramshackle movement that’s too loud and too disorganized, even if their hearts are in the right place.