This is the second installment of “Five Things the Left Refuses To Get.”
Not so long ago, pundits believed the emergence of the “Christian right” would be a divisive obstacle to future GOP unity. Today, the polar opposite is true: faith-based conservative denominations are an integral part of the Trump coalition. Here, Vice President Mike Pence is the field general, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell serves as ground commander in charge of federal judgeships.
Alas, today’s faith “problem” is on the left, as working and middle-class ethnic Catholics increasingly find themselves in the crosshairs of even respected Democratic leaders.
The most recent example herein was California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s characterization of Notre Dame Law Professor Amy Coney Barrett’s Catholicism as dogma (“the dogma lives loudly within you”). The charge was not well received in Catholic America. But that 2017 incident will pale in comparison if a re-elected President Trump nominates that same Judge Barrett to the high court.
The mother of seven is highly respected in conservative circles. She is supposedly on the shortlist. Her nomination will be seen as a sixth conservative vote — and would no doubt set off wild protests and renewed promises to pack the court on the left. That the opposition would focus on her Catholic faith and convictions is without doubt. The expected ugliness would further engender resentment among faith-based deplorables — not a good result for Democratic moderates attempting a comeback in middle America.
Indictments of Wall Street and the business investment sector have always been raw meat in progressive circles. The left has long castigated large investment banks for their periodic scandals and extraordinary profits.
Still, a quiet, capitalist revolution has been brewing for the last three decades; and it has to do with the growing prominence of the defined contribution retirement vehicle — better known as the 401k.
As of 2018, Americans have an estimated $5.3 trillion in these tax-advantaged savings accounts, as well as $993 billion in “403b plans” (for non-profit institutions); $323 billion in “457 plans” (for governmental employers); and $580 billion in “TSP plans” (for federal employees). It is accordingly accurate to say that for an ever-increasing number of middle and working-class Americans, what is good for the market is good for America.
Yet, you will have to search long and hard in the progressive media to find recognition — let alone praise — for this market-driven success story. Their war against Wall Street will never abate. Capitalism’s detractors have invested far too much in a class warfare narrative to ever change.
Progressives want white people to feel guilty about being white, and black people who are insufficiently “woke” to feel even worse. This racial self-animus is relatively new to our culture, so context will help. Recall the manner in which the alphabet soup cable networks covered House GOP members walking out en masse in order to protest Chairman Adam Schiff’s closed-door Ukraine interrogations.
The referenced reviews were exceptionally harsh, but it was the media’s contempt for the members’ race and gender that caught my attention. That the most cynical comments were delivered by white liberals is illustrative. The not-too-subtle takeaway: Republican whiteness and maleness are sufficient to invalidate the party’s message. No additional evidence is required. For these opinion-makers, Dr. King’s historic admonition of character over race is so 1960s.
Similarly, some of you may recall former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s preachy “white privilege” instruction to a white working-class mother in economically depressed Youngstown, Ohio. What sounded so woke to her campaign advisors was not so well received in the real world, however. Her presidential effort disbanded shortly thereafter.
To be fair, not every lefty buys into the “fatherlessness is a racist issue” mantra. The most prominent exception is President Obama, who on numerous public occasions has recognized how the proliferation of fatherless children contributes to generational poverty. Still, what then-Senate staffer Daniel Patrick Moynihan identified as a foundational contributor to a long list of social ills (in 1968) has today become code for racism for some left-leaning intellectuals.
The charge is weak; the plague of social ills associated with fatherless kids (the empirical evidence is overwhelming) recognizes no racial bounds. In other words, white and Hispanic families have not been spared the fatherless epidemic. Yet, it is a problem generally ignored by most political and community leaders out of fear. Our culture suffers as a result.
Progressives who wish to utilize this issue as a white racism/privilege play be forewarned. You will find it difficult to trot out the over-used “dog whistle” analogy here. The statistics — and common sense — make a difficult opponent indeed.
Lately, much has been made about the “rebirth” of American nationalism. (Rich Lowry’s new book “The Case for Nationalism” is an excellent read in this space.)
The reasons for all the Trump era attention on the American experience are clear: (1.) The left is investing ever-increasing invective toward the concept of American exceptionalism while (2.) no president since Reagan has invested more in championing the noble American experiment in democracy, pluralism and market capitalism.
Regarding the former, progressives no longer feel the need to hide their hostility for the American story — and its Founders. The new narrative (taught in far too many public school systems around the country) focuses on racism, nativism, misogynism and ethnocentrism — regardless of historic progress in racial/gender equality and wealth accumulation.
The bottom line quickly bubbles to the surface: America is inherently (permanently) racist and therefore fundamentally flawed; only a complete cultural transformation can rectify our countless shortcomings.
The latter could not disagree more. A (still) silent majority senses a rejuvenated patriotism in the Trump era, not such a strange takeaway for what remains a free, vibrant and wealth-generating country.
Most importantly, these regular ole folks are able to calibrate the moral stain of slavery and inequality AND the brilliance of the Founding Fathers. They expect their political leaders to do likewise. Those wannabes who fail are inevitably sentenced to the dust bin of history as no candidate has ever (or will ever) won the presidency on an “America is evil” platform. Americans of all colors have simply sacrificed too much in blood and treasure to think otherwise.
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