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Op-Ed

Bob Ehrlich: Five Things the Left Refuses To Get

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Here are five observations to keep in mind the next time someone attempts to convince you progressivism is America’s future.

Charter Schools

What in the 1990s was an experiment begun by African-American women in Wisconsin has progressed into a slam-dunk winner for tens of thousands of (primarily) minority students. The startling academic success achieved by some of America’s poorest students makes the case.

Despite this undeniable progress, progressive leaders such as New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio continue their daily assault against these semi-autonomous schools. Such strident opposition is all about placating powerful teachers’ unions that enjoy an outsized presence in Democratic primaries. Alas, the fate of these unique public schools will be determined at the ballot box next November. In the meantime, it will serve Republican interests to aggressively market their strong support of charters in minority communities. Parents of kids lucky enough to attend these schools must be reminded who has their best interests at heart.

Religious Freedom

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I’m not sure when it all began, but it is now clear that progressive leaders will continue to demonize religious belief and practice anytime and anywhere such traditions conflict with progressive social mores. The process is by now familiar: progressive talking heads employ their omnipresent speech patrols to dismiss the expression of religious values as “hate speech.”

They then double down by contending that such speech is not protected under the First Amendment. That this interpretation of free speech is simply incorrect is beside the point. A relentless shaming of those who seek to stand by religious conviction follows and is often enough to convince the “offender” to back down. Yet, the public censure does not change the offender’s opinion.

This is precisely where the difficult-to-measure support for Donald J. Trump comes into play — a point misunderstood by progressives who believe that relentless shaming is enough. It is not.

In fact, while public opinion polls are unable to measure the quiet resistance of those who resent the present-day campaign waged against religious institutions and values, the aggrieved practitioners nevertheless remain registered, highly motivated voters. And they now have added impetus to show up next November.

The Rich

The left’s favorite target from time immemorial. Always a crowd favorite, too, especially among young progressive millennials propagandized into the supposedly evil twins of wealth and privilege. Indeed, entire destructive political philosophies (communism, socialism) have been built on the notions of class envy and the evil rich.

There are American-centric problems with this world view, however, and they are not going to disappear easily. The first concerns that initial (shocked) reaction when a fresh-out-of-college graduate receives his or her first paycheck. The typical response ranges from mild agitation to not-so-mild outrage as the private sector newbie realizes he or she has never been taught the economics of taxation — or the cost of bureaucracy — in college. Many of you will identify with this life-altering moment, as more than one Republican has been born as a result.

For some, the second life-altering realization occurs at a point down the career path — wherein hard work has resulted in higher income and, in some cases, business ownership. The vast majority of folks who reach this point will never “feel the Bern”; they are proud of what they have accomplished and want to keep it.

Here, the expectation that one is supposed to feel guilty about hard-earned success and wealth is viewed as silly, even unAmerican. Moreover, these good folks often wish to grow their wealth — and then pass it on to their kids. Not the type of moral you are likely to hear at an Elizabeth Warren campaign rally.

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Trump Voters

No new ground here, just more recent evidence that the new left does not understand — or does not care to understand — what drives the president’s appeal between the coasts. I refer, of course, to former Vice President Biden’s assertion that the real reason people support the president is “because of the tax cut … they like him because he’s a racist…”

The Democratic frontrunner added that those not motivated by prejudice are simply “people…who are afraid.”

If you discern a “three-fer” here, go to the head of the class. Recall how President Barack Obama famously dismissed working-class voters as “bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment,” circa 2008. Then, of course, came Hillary Clinton’s equally infamous “irredeemable deplorables” indictment of America’s working-class eight years later.

The attitudes expressed herein reflect what so many working people now realize: progressive elites are willing to write off millions of blue-collar, church-going, gun-owning voters. All the post-election happy talk about starting a conversation with this demographic is now by the boards, replaced by familiar allegations/taunts of racism, nativism, misogynism — and just about any other-ism you care to name.

As a result, FDR continues to spin in his grave. I’m pretty sure JFK has joined him.

Immigration

Today’s progressives openly court illegal aliens — and count such courting as high political virtue. Activists challenge border walls they supported only a few years ago. They further advocate for the elimination of the federal department charged with tracking and capturing criminal illegal immigrants in the country. To boot, in some jurisdictions, locally-elected progressives have sought to give illegals the right to vote.

That all this new ground has been covered in the three short years since the end of the Obama administration is startling and speaks to how dramatically the leadership of the Democratic Party has moved further left.

But, yet again, it does not mean working-class Democrats (let alone Republicans and independents) have followed suit. Just the opposite in fact.

In flyover country, the voice of millions of legal immigrants who chose to follow the law (sometimes patiently waiting years to become a citizen), is heard — loud and clear — as are the calls for an orderly and fair process at the border.

The bottom line: Going 0 for 5 with regard to the things that really count in middle America will be a heavy lift for Democrats attempting to win a national election.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Robert Ehrlich is a former governor of Maryland as well as a former U.S. congressman and state legislator. He is the author of “Bet You Didn’t See That One Coming: Obama, Trump, and the End of Washington’s Regular Order,” in addition to “Turn This Car Around,” “America: Hope for Change" and “Turning Point.” Ehrlich is currently a counsel at the firm of King & Spalding in Washington, D.C.




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