Does The Left Know How To Make An Argument Not Based On Racism? The Trouble With the Left's Critique of Trump
As I predicted in my letter to the Princeton University President last year, two decades of living in university monocultures and political echo chambers, combined with a one-track focus on social justice, seems to have left the political Left with no ability to engage in rational opposition politics.
The Golden Globe Awards were a magnificent example. I presume that many of these actors are reasonably intelligent people. And they are obviously upset and worried about Donald Trump's election to President. But they can't express anything beyond their fear and loathing. They can't articulate what specifically worries them, and when they do articulate something specific - e.g "this may be the last Golden Globes Awards" - it is silly and illogical.
Perhaps worse, these critiques of Trump are, IMO, focusing on all the wrong things and sucking the oxygen out of the room for more relevant criticism. The Hollywood types all seemed terrified that they and their industry are going to somehow fall victims to government authoritarianism. At some level I guess this makes sense -- when the Left was in power, they used their power to hammer industries they did not like (eg energy) and thus expect that the Right will do the same once they are in power. But Trump is a New York social liberal who is a part of the entertainment industry. While I confess that one of the problems with Trump is that he is wildly unpredictable, Hollywood is an unlikely target, at least until they just went on TV and begged to be one.
An even better example of focusing on all the wrong problems is the confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions. If you read pretty much any of the media, you will be left with the impression that the main issue with Sessions is whether he is a racist, or at least whether he is sufficiently sensitive to race issues. But this is a complete diversion of attention from Sessions' true issues. I am not sure what is in his heart on race, but his track record on race seems to be pretty clean. His problems are in other directions -- he is an aggressive drug warrior, a fan of asset forfeiture, and a proponent of Federal over local power. As just one example of problems we may face with an AG Sessions, states that have legalized marijuana may find the Feds pursuing drug enforcement actions on Federal marijuana charges.
Why haven't we heard any of these concerns? Because the freaking Left is no longer capable of making any public argument that is not based on race or gender. Or more accurately, the folks on the Left who see every single issue as a race and gender issue are getting all the air time and taking it away from more important (in this case) issues. The SJW's are going to scream race, race, race at the Sessions nomination, and since there does not seem to be any smoking gun there, they are going to fail. And Sessions will be confirmed without any of his real illiberal issues coming out in the public discussion about him.
I have said this before about Left and Right and their different approaches to politics. The Left is great at getting attention on an issue. Think of BLM and their protests and disruption tactics -- they had everyone's attention. But they went nowhere on policy. I challenge you to list the 5 or 10 policy goals of BLM (they actually had a good set once, but abandoned them). The Left is great at expressing anger and dismay and frustration and outrage, but terrible about thoughtfully taking steps to fix it. The Right on the other hand is great at working (plodding, really) in the background on policy issues, often at the local level. ALEC is a great example, building a body of model legislation, working in groups around the country to try to implement these models. But they absolutely suck at generating emotion and excitement around key issues (except maybe for wars and in abortion protests). The only example I can really think of is the Tea Party, and (despite how the media tried to portray it) the Tea Party was extraordinarily well-behaved and moderate when compared to protest movements on the Left.
Trump has an enormous number of problems in his policy goals, not the least of which is his wealth-destroying, job-destroying ideas on trade nationalism. But all we get on trade are a few lone voices who have the patience to keep refuting the same bad arguments (thanks Don Boudreaux and Mark Perry) and instead we get a women's march to protest the Republican who, among the last season's Presidential candidates, has historically been the furthest to the Left on women's issues. It is going to be a long four years, even longer if the Left can't figure out how to mount a reasonable opposition.
Postscript: All of this is without even mentioning how the Left's over-the-top disruption tactics seem to just feed Trump's energy. At some point, Hercules figured out that cutting heads off the hydra was only making things worse and switched tactics. If only I could be so confident about the Left.