Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Leftist's Guide to Winning Elections

Can't it be 2008 again?  Or at least some time like that.  That is the question leftists all over the western world today must ask themselves.  Barack Obama was poised to become America's first black president in a landslide victory over John McCain.  And even where nominally conservative parties held office, such as in Canada and the UK, the overall mood was still quite progressive.  The Lehman Bro's meltdown had tanked the credibility of trickle down economics.  Stimulus was the word of the day.

For the social conservatives, things were worse.  Demolishing evangelical Christian dogmas was the favorite sport of the internet, as the works of Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins had recently been international bestsellers.  Wall Street was soon to be occupied, and gay marriage destined for legalization.  Of course, there were successes on the right, such as the 2010 emergence of the Tea Party in red state America, David Cameron in the UK or Stephen Harper's conservative majority in Canada, but these just seemed more like a foil for the increasingly progressive and secular status quo.  Remember the debt ceiling fiasco?

Feminism, secularism and LGBT pride ruled the internet, and the old angry white males and the evangelicals were, it was agreed, a diminishing demographic eventually destined for the ash heap of history.  The mere suggestion of racism, misogyny or homophobia was more than sufficient to silence any message board, office or lecture hall into swift submission.  No crystal ball or deck of tarot cards in the halcyon early days of social media could have foreseen Brexit, meme magic, GamerGate or Donald Trump.

As I write this, Trump is poised to take the office of POTUS with a red house and senate.  Right wing, in some cases far right parties surge in the European polls.  Pepe the frog pops up all over social media, and tumblr SJWs with their trigger warnings and safe spaces are now the favorite punching bags of the very kinds of bloggers and YouTubers that not so long ago, it seemed, were trouncing evangelicals.  Even the last great standard bearer of 1st world progressivism, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, has come in for ridicule and criticism for his poetic praise of the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

It didn't have to come to this.  And it doesn't have to stay this way.  It would be quite easy, in fact, for the progressive left to regain the high ground and get the wind back in its sails.  The easiest way to do this might be just to do nothing.  The instant, and I mean the very nanosecond they're sworn in, it will most likely be back to pet issues and fetish causes for the GOP.  Namely, corporate tax cuts, middle east power projection and regional hegemony, and efforts to curb abortion rights.  Not quite what the Cult of Kek had in mind, I'm sure, but did they really think they could challenge the ossified neo-cons of the US deep state that are, for all intents and purposes, there enthroned?  They wouldn't be the first to falter on that assumption.  Hope and change, anyone?

If the progressives want to hasten the process of returning to the White House, and maybe taking back a senate seat or two and a few state governorships, however, here are a few suggestions I have for them:

  • There are two kinds of people whom you call racist: real racists, who don't care all that much because you're just a worthless pinko commie to them, and people who aren't racist.  People who aren't racist will get tired of you calling them one sooner or later, so don't.
  • The above is also true of people whom you call misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic or any other kind of phobic your lexicon might contain.
  • This is especially true of you use any of the above to emotionally blackmail or kafkatrap people into accepting your views on broader political issues.  Or to demonstrate a presumed moral, cultural or intellectual superiority on your part.  Or use them to dodge or sidestep lines of argument that challenge your world view.  Try to refrain from doing these things.  If it would help, consider avoiding news sites and blogs that encourage this kind of behavior, such as Everyday Feminism, Jezebel or HuffPost Women (these being the worst offenders, but by no means the only ones).
  • It is incumbent upon you to convince others of the merits of your political philosophy.  It is not incumbent upon others to accept your political philosophy or vote in a manner of your preference simply because you want or feel entitled to it.  This is true even if you have a college diploma, a vagina or dark skin.  There is nothing wrong with having any of those things, but they don't entitle you to other people's allegiance.  Even if those factors make you "marginalized" or you fear the results of an election not going your way. 
  • Your political views, stances on social issues, education, marginalized identities or any combination thereof do not make you morally or intellectually superior to others.  I'd recommend you not act as though they do.
  • Those same factors do not absolve you of the responsibility to prove as factual any claims you make if you wish to have your claims regarded as fact.  
  • Those same factors do not entitle you to obstruct traffic, disrupt classroom, workplace or governmental activities, shut down meetings and speakers you disagree with and act like an asshole towards other people.  
  • You'd be surprised at how many people privilege theory and "power plus prejudice" don't wash with.  A considerable number of people quite rightly view such sophistry as self serving rationalizations that smug douchebags use to license their own shitty behavior.  Your marginalized identities do not exempt you from being an asshole when that is, in fact, what you are being.
  • People don't really care how many college professors or textbooks told you that any of the above is okay.  Credentializing an ideology and institutionalizing it in academia doesn't make said ideology infallible.  If it did, scientific racism would be true because the university of Berlin taught it as gospel circa 1935 or so.  Your own postmodern philosophies are, perhaps, truer than you'd like them to be in this regard.  In this case, your "knowledge" really is just self serving bias.
I could say more, and maybe even go into ideological and policy matters.  But I really don't think it's necessary.  It really comes down to not being an asshole.  Quite frequently, the advice you'd have been quick to give others regarding any kind of PC related issue, except applied to yourself.  That is the hard part, I realize.  But there's a reason the religious leaders of world history so stressed ideas like "doing unto others as you'd have others do unto you," and "removing first the log from thine own eye ..."  It's not because they believed in some fairy tale sky daddy, as I'm sure you've told yourself when you want to feel superior to churchgoing folks - you know, the ones you so smugly derided because they never practiced what they preached?  Yes, those ones.  It's because it really works.  It shows integrity and demonstrable commitment to your values.  People are drawn to that.  People respect that.  Try it.  I think you'd be glad of the results.

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