A Liberal Who Remembers

Lefty friends keep asking me if — or telling me that — I’m a conservative now. But I’m just a liberal who remembers what they’ve forgotten. I remember what it meant to be a liberal back when I really started to identify as one, back around 2000, during Bush v. Gore, 9/11, the PATRIOT Act, the Iraq War. Of course, I may just have been gullible. Maybe it meant something different before that and maybe it came to mean something different after. Maybe it’s all just “tribal” signifiers, all just flags and symbols. But if it is, the forgetting must help, and that just isn’t what I’m good at.

I remember when conservatives were the science deniers. There was evolution and then there was climate change. In 2000, during the debates, George W. Bush called the recommendations of Al Gore’s economists “fuzzy math.” Through most of college I retained this image of conservatives, and of liberals as their rationally-minded, empirically-driven opposites. So I laughed and laughed when Stephen Colbert coined the word “truthiness” to capture the way conservatives “felt out” what was true and false. These days, though, most of the people I see attacking science, and even the very notion of truth, are on the left. And “facts, not feelings” is a catchphrase of the rising, pseudo-edgy online right. Meanwhile, making fun of a misspelling could be seen as ableist; if the misspelling is characteristic of an ethnic or regional dialect, it could even be called racist or classist.

I remember when conservatives were the snowflakes, too, when they were the ones who had fits over wording and believed that “silence is violence.” When President Bush said “You’re either with us or you’re against us,” it seemed ridiculous to me. Why push away potential allies? Why characterize reasonable reservations as enmity? Republicans in Congress changed menus so that “French fries” were called “freedom fries.” Absurd, I thought. A small symbolic change with no effects other than to salve the feelings and prove the power of those who had pushed for it. Plus, everyone was going to keep calling them “French fries” anyway. But it is precisely these sorts of changes that form the core of identity politics activism: removing names from buildings and the credits of movies, altering the sigils of prestigious institutions because they relate in some obscure way to events nobody alive is old enough to have even been a part of. The DREAM Act for us as the PATRIOT Act was for them. And it is the left, now, that pushes away centrists, that says that even center-left liberalism aids and abets fascism. Fascism — and racism, sexism, even capitalism — these things are the left’s “terrorism.”

I remember thinking the “War on Terror” was a bit of a joke, too. How do you declare war on an emotion, on a tactic, on an abstract concept? Surely this would mean a conflict with no end, a conflict in which the enemy was always being redefined, a conflict which sought even to create enemies where none had been before. But the production of such enemies is now a central part of what it means to be a liberal social scientist or journalist. Test after test to tell people how racist they are, deep down, where even they can’t quite see it; the new specter of the “authoritarian personality” to explain the rise of Donald Trump. Dissenting voices from within disadvantaged groups are said to have “internalized” various biases or oppressive systems. I can imagine, too, someone telling me that I had “internalized terrorism” in 2003, when I wore all black to school on the first day of the Iraq War. And what did they say back then? “Support the troops” — the same sort of simplifying, polarizing call for solidarity we now hear in “Believe women” and “Protect black bodies.”

I remember someone asking at one of the presidential primary debates in 2008: “Only three thousand people died on 9/11. How many people die in car crashes? To cancer? Why don’t we shift some of our counterterrorism budget to those things?” At the time, this seemed like a very liberal thing to say — the sort that might trigger those virtue-signaling, flag-pin-wearing conservatives. And yet, now, if you talk about the high tolls of diseases and accidents and compare them to the relative infrequency of police killings or the relative lack of consequence of street harassment or microaggressions, good liberals and leftists will accuse you of “whataboutism.” They may even say you are arguing in bad faith, that you’re making seemingly logical points in order to distract from “systemic” or “structural” problems in the organization of economic and cultural life. They will even blame you for donating to charity.

I remember that academic freedom was a liberal value, then; I stressed and fumed over article after article about Middle Eastern academics who were denied visas, detained, or otherwise “deplatformed” from American institutions. The point was never that they were singular or irreplaceable scholars, though they might have been. The point was the principle. These people were trying to figure out the truth, was what we thought then. These terrorist links were shadows, or artifacts of their well-intentioned research. You can’t just ban from the conversation anyone who thinks American power abroad is a net negative. If you do, you won’t be able to make a critical examination of American power at all. But now major corporations and institutions of higher learning find ways to keep out controversial viewpoints, and especially to stifle dissent when it comes to symbolic identity politics, based on similarly shadowy links.

I remember these folks. From “Farewell to All That,” Vanity Fair, February 2009. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2009/02/bush-oral-history200902. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.

I remember when endless, pointless war was a bad thing. But these people want a war against -isms just as the Bush administration did. And just as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld wanted to tap your phones in case you made a joke about a bomb, they want to monitor your every interaction to make sure you’re not doing anything problematic. They want to tell you what songs you’re allowed to sing along with in your own car, by yourself. They want to institute an elaborate “sex bureaucracy” to manage and control the clumsy hookups of college students. I remember that being a liberal meant believing in privacy — the privacy of consenting adults in their own homes, for instance. But now anyone is at risk of exposure for an off-color social media post or a wrong move on a date. If privacy were a liberal value, why did liberal journalists gleefully dig into the Reddit posts of mild-mannered Ken Bone after his red sweater was a hit at a town hall debate in the fall of 2016? Why is it so easy to know so much about romantic encounters between celebrities and their fans, between senior and junior journalists, between pairs of people I haven’t even heard of before? If liberals still value privacy, then why is it considered politically necessary to publish so much of this stuff?

I remember when due process was a liberal refrain, too. Graduating from college ten years ago I applied for (but didn’t get) a job at the American Civil Liberties Union, where I would have been a paralegal working to support lawyers representing Guantanamo Bay detainees. There was a moment when I thought to myself: Can you really help out terrorists, murderers, killers? Some might be innocent, but what of the others? But I felt two things very strongly: first, that it was only through a fair and principled process that innocence or guilt could be determined to begin with; and second, that even the clearly guilty had a right to representation, as a matter of basic dignity and humanity. These days, the anti-due process rumblings are coming from liberals, too. In my discipline, philosophy, there is a fairly large and active group of professors who believe that there’s a pervasive sexual harassment problem amongst philosophers; in this group there has been talk for years of the idea that “due process culture” is “outdated.” These accusations are of things so heinous, so horrible, that we should alter our sense of fundamental norms and rights in response. What should the takeaway be, for an aspiring liberal? That mass murder and terror aren’t so heinous or horrible?

I remember that when Osama bin Laden was killed and American social media celebrated, many of my friends were somber. They wrote things like: “We should never rejoice in the death of another human being,” and “To find comfort in the passing of an enemy is to excuse oneself from the effort of understanding them.” My paraphrases, of course. Deep thoughts, I remember thinking. Gee, I’ll try to do better. Now: what do you think many of these same people were saying after the deaths of Andrew Breitbart, or Margaret Thatcher, or Antonin Scalia, or even, most recently, Billy Graham? They panned the idea of respect for the dead as a useless civility, a gutlessness when it came to vanquishing the enemies, the evil avatars of fascism, and misogyny, and white supremacy, and capitalist exploitation. I do not think the source of this inconsistency is that these liberals and leftists actually think terrorism is acceptable. But it has become difficult to explain to conservative interlocutors just what else would explain the divergence.


There is a danger in remembering, for we can only remember what we noticed — what we were around to notice. I wasn’t old enough to closely observe the left under Clinton, but one curious thing about leftist intellectuals during the Bush years was that they actually blamed themselves, and the conceptual tools they’d developed in their critiques, for some of the administration’s excesses. Sociologist of science Bruno Latour asked in Critical Inquirywhy critique ha[d] run out of steam.” He wondered if postmodern relativism had served to enable conservative denialism about climate change, evolution, and other politically-charged scientific topics. Similarly, law professor Jack Balkin wrote of “the other side of critical legal theory.” The crits, who had worked so hard to destabilize notions like the impartial rule of law, found themselves falling back on such ideas to attack Bush administration decisions and policies when it came to war, torture, the trials of terrorists, surveillance, state secrets, executive power, and so on.

Everyone was scrambling to reassess. This was partly the result of the shift in power. “Everything is permissible” sounds much better when the people who can do the most things are your people — people you trust or who share your values. It was also partly a shift in cultural orientation. The playful early stages of postmodernism fit the 1990s perfectly: the growth of the internet, the sense of freedom and invulnerability that followed the Cold War, the economic surplus which President Clinton left for President Bush. But the millennium brought a recession, then a terrorist attack; a series of wars, then a far more significant recession. Everything wasn’t so free and easy anymore. This sense of insecurity continued to grow during the Obama years, and the left learned from the Bush-era right just as the right had learned from the Clinton-era left. By fall 2015, the first year with a huge season of college protests, one could scorn liberals, just as I had scorned conservatives under Bush, with Ben Franklin’s famous saying: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Perhaps the most interesting dynamic post-Trump is that there has been no reassessment this time. Instead, there’s been an acceleration. Just as a terrorist attack can be spun to support counterterrorism policy — it’s not that the policy didn’t work; it’s that we need more of it! — the 2016 election seems to have proven to liberals not that their shift in principles was wrong, but that they didn’t shift enough, because they didn’t realize just how powerful the hateful, mystical forces arrayed against them really were.

For those of us whose values are the liberalism of fifteen years ago — truth, free speech, privacy, due process, pacifism, diplomacy, human dignity — this can feel like a bit of a bummer. We dreamt, I think, that the rest of the tribe would come back to the principles upon which we thought it was founded. It may be a small consolation, or it may be a great horror, that today’s liberal values and strategies will be superseded in turn, and that those who espouse them now will find themselves similarly on the outside of some future liberal group, with their own frustrated remembrances suddenly somehow uncool or corny. They will; but just some of them, not all of them. For while political principles may go in and out of fashion, what never seems to get old is: to forget.

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  1. Not at all. If you look at charts where Liberals and Conservatives were in 1994 vs where they are in 2018, you’ll see that the right has only shifted a little bit to the right while the Left has gone to the far deep end of leftism. If you don’t believe so, watch Tim Pool, he covers this several times and explains that, yes, the Left has become insane.

    The fact that people like Tim Pool, Carl Benjamin and other similar people are called “Far Right” when they’re actually moderate liberals should tell you just how far the Overton window has shifted to the Left. Ironically, with Youtube, Facebook and Twitter banning the far right on their platforms, it’s caused Republicans/Conservatives to become more moderate and want to go further to the right than they would otherwise be while the Democrats/Liberals are so far to the left that the main party wants to shift to the right and be more moderate than they are now.

    For example, when a Republican does something even remotely racist or vile, they are basically ex-communicated from the party and any power they might have once had. While a Democrat who openly admits to being a pedophile or a racist is promoted and given a better lot in life.

    So tell me, which party is dragging the country further away from Center again?

  2. I have always believed in what I called “objective liberalism,” (please not to be confused with the horrid nonsense called “objectivism”) that is, a cohesive set of progressive principles that are rooted in provable facts and logical deductions. But even from the young age when I conceived of this, I found it hard to really find in the political discourse. I still believe in it, over 20 years later, even though it continues to be hard to find, and moreover, seemingly harder than before, although there are still a few beams of light in the darkness.

    It’s quite remarkable, and discouraging, how many very logically intelligent people who I have come across and even personally known who believed some ridiculously illogical and nonsensical things on which some of their principles were based. (Identitarianism is a big one.) It’s become clear to me, though, that this isn’t a political tendency; it’s quite likely a disturbingly prevalent human tendency, from which no good idea is safe.

  3. If we are smart and honest we travel on a trajectory that allows us to grow. We can abandon old modes and become some different shade of what we were.

    I’m 50 and I can tell you that I remember a lot of what you do, maybe even clearer and with a few more years perspective. I too have seen rumblings of intolerance on the left, illiberal thinking and suppression of free speech. I’ve been horrified by younger folks who can’t seem to understand why (despite wanting to) its sometimes so hard to teach an old dog new tricks and our frustration at their insistence that we do so immediately,

    I am also still proudly liberal, proudly willing to incorporate new ideas (like gun ownership) into my permanent ideas of liberty and justice for all, health care for all and stopping the wholesale degradation of people of color. I can support the troops while still questioning the culture that idolizes military service and denigrates people fighting for their freedom at home. I can recognize that some of us go to far, but in a way sometimes going too far shows us the need for course correction. I can also still despise the state our country was left in by G.W. Bush while simultaneously not demonizing the man and understanding that sometimes there are extenuating circumstances, I can also recognize that Obama wasn’t all I thought he was but still be proud we had him.

    I don’t have to give up being “Liberal” to give up liberally accepting that I will not always be the same liberal I was at 17, or 21 or 41.

    If that is what you are trying to say here, I agree wholeheartedly.

  4. I don’t think the author ever was a liberal. Being a thirtysomething is not really old enough to have perspective on one’s beliefs.

    His so-called liberal days were during the period that the political midpoint was being dragged far right of center. This was when true political centrists were called “the left” and the real left had no voice. This is why today past Republicans (Eisenhower, Bush Sr, and even Reagan) sound more liberal than modern day so-called centrist.

    The biggest thing missing from this article is the perspective of history. And this is very odd for someone who claims to value “facts.” The article is more about the author’s feeling than anything else. But instead of owning that he wraps his musing in a layer of faux analysis. The result just seem both pompous and naive.

  5. The right is everything that is terrible about politics, but the left right now is everything that is terrible about culture, and culture is more visceral and easy to understand than politics, so its more ‘common sense’ to prefer the right and ignore federal abstractions. Rationally or not, people will react much more strongly to a screeching undergrad than an argument about health care. It’s just the case. The only area this piece kind of glazed over were the Obama years – I do think Obama failed to provide “hope and change”, i.e., continued drone strikes and mass surveillance while promising an end to the Bush mentality, and combined with a half-measure healthcare program and not much else to his legacy, people felt like it was worth flipping a coin again than continuing Obama-era liberalism. He threw his whole weight behind Hillary and it wasn’t enough. If Obama really delivered, people would take free shit over struggle and toil. That was the appeal of Bernie, whose ideas (which are fairly common ideas that any politician could pick up) still has a lot of potential.

    1. I might suspect that much of what the author is undergoing is the common discovery as we age (dare I say grow) that many who ostensibly shared our youthful ideals in fact only paid them lip service, in actuality pursuing other more selfish agendas.

      Mind, it likely also helped clarify this that under Obama the sense of final inevitable victory brought a lot of people on the left’s previously hidden inner extremisms bubbling up to daylight. We’ve won – why dissemble any longer? Compounding that now, the sudden utterly unexpected counter-victory of Trump, as this writer points out, has caused many to double down rather than rethink.

      I’m enough older to have been through multiple cycles of idealism, disappointment, realism. It may soon be time to welcome Mr. Traldi to what I’ve come to call “wild-eyed middle-of-the-roadism”, where one’s positions may average moderate but still go for the root as seems warranted, with little regard for the doctrinal correctness of others.

    2. When in doubt, go for the “free shit” argument.

      Even welfare recipients know that NOTHING is for free. Personally I don’t think people on TANIF or WIC should be drug tested I think they should be forced to vote. Wanna see free shit? If either of the two parties want that juicy piece of voting goodness they’ll be giving out cars like Oprah. Free shit….please!?!?!?

  6. Risibly smug and self-congratulatory. It’s not your fault, you were somehow 100% right/omniscient *and* blindsided because, according to the rules of the game that you just made up, you’re only responsible for “what we were around to notice.”

    Inb4 some tautological nonsense about how you literally don’t remember what you weren’t alive for, etc. Yeah, we get the physics of time and biology and shit. No, clearly you meant something else; that you are, for reasons unstated and wholly mysterious, both ignorant of everything that happened before your high school years and proud of that. Here’s a possibility: you should be ashamed of not “remembering” anything that happened before Colbert told you shit when you were 15, and also therefore barred from commenting on anything ever.

    Nevertheless, we can still say you should be humbled by your own lights. Because what *you* were around to notice is conservatives telling you at the time that what liberals really mean is Stalinism/Maoism. Turns out you were around for that, you dismissed it, they were right, and you were wrong.

    Let’s be clear: you, personally–and not just contemporary American liberalism–have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. You may lament what you have lost–your youthful assurance that your Team Lib represented Truth and Justice*–but only under quite different ground rules. You are required to address that feeling through the lens of shame, humility and willingness to learn; not arrogance, indignation, and bitterness over the life of delusion that was taken from you.

    You have no right to help yourself to your own misinterpretation of what leftism is. It is facially absurd and question begging to say, “I was 100% right because I chose team goodness over team evil!” Actually, absurdity is the only way to read this piece charitably. “Can you believe that liberals completely flipped from the side of the angels to the devils in just one decade?” Why no, actually, I can’t; indeed, it’s almost as if a bunch of dumb kids didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. Or does that not strike you as more likely than liberalism itself flipping all the way around? If it doesn’t, perhaps it’s time to do a lot more thinking (and quietly, not expressively). When you dig yourself into a hole and find you can’t get out, Occam’s razor suggests you weren’t just digging yourself out of the hole until someone turned the solar system upside down without your permission.

    *You may think you have blocked accusations of tribal retardation with this sentence, “Maybe it’s all just “tribal” signifiers, all just flags and symbols. But if it is, the forgetting must help, and that just isn’t what I’m good at.” Quite the opposite, you’re *so* adept at forgetting that you have the chutzpah (more likely naked blindness) to insert that sentence without bothering to notice its whats propping up your entire position.

    1. I should also mention this absurd, weasel sentence. You think you’re clever enough to leave yourself an out when called on your bullshit, like this is CNN and I’ll just have to admit you didn’t “technically” lie. But then again, what the fuck are you talking about? This isn’t some game where you get to “win” by one weird trick.

      ” I remember what it meant to be a liberal back when I really started to identify as one, back around 2000, during Bush v. Gore, 9/11, the PATRIOT Act, the Iraq War. Of course, I may just have been gullible. Maybe it meant something different before that and maybe it came to mean something different after. Maybe it’s all just “tribal” signifiers, all just flags and symbols.”

      Of course you didn’t just start to identify as one around 2000, did you? We’re dropping what you think is your automatic out word–“really”–because it doesn’t mean anything and you didn’t bother to even pretend like it does. So, no, you dont get to say that word is doing any work when you refuse to demonstrate it; I have no interest in questions you’re begging.

      You’re telling us nothing but you’re showing me everything. Here are the new rules: you be the writer and I’ll be the reader. What I mean is that you’re just going to be transparent and let me count the dice as they come up; stop telling me I can’t make my own inferences because you know the facts are coming up snake eyes for your rhetorical purposes.

      Let’s begin, shall we? I ask, you answer. Hold the spin, because I’m not asking for that.

      So when you say you really started to identify as a liberal in 2000, what you mean is you’d been parroting liberal nonsense your entire life, correct?

      What you mean is, you didn’t enter the world innocent at age 16 and start drawing your own original conclusions based on the evidence, correct?

      What you really mean is that you were a programmed monkey who, when you say you started to “identify” as liberal, you mean you “remember” starting to go from mere repetition of dogma to reflective exegesis and justification of dogma?

      And you’re aware of these facts but think (for whatever reason) it’s irrelevant that pre-2000 you were an unthinking liberal child-soldier?

      You think despite that you made *your own decisions* as you matured, just like an Islamic imam who is fully woke because he *chose* the Salafism in which he was raised over Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism, etc.?

      Do I have this 100% correct? If not, precisely which part of my guess is wrong? Show your work.

      Yeah, maybe it’s all just tribal signifiers, he haughtily smirked at literally everyone who doesn’t share his own position. Perhaps.

      So when I research and post the political views of your mother, your father, your older brother, your other older brother, your older sister, et al. is what I’m going to find reflect a diversity of thought?

      Or am I–we–going to find you grew up in an environment of unhinged, jackbooted, lockstep left-liberalism echo chamber?

      Is the reason you think you came to your own positions because it’s true or it’s because it’s how you prefer to imagine yourself?

      Is how you think of your intellectual objectivity exactly the same as the view you’d have of someone from the Saudi royal family who happens to support Saudi royalism and Wahabbism? If not, why not?

      Do you think it’s possible it’s your ego preventing you from admitting your tribalism?

      But then again, I could be wrong. I suppose you could find me one (1) Republican (or alt-right or Islamist or anything else, really) family member. Should we hold our breath?

        1. Fire at will, my honorable friend.

          No doubt you’re willing to meet me on the intellectual field of honor, precisely how Mr. Traldi claims he wants it.

          You’re not scared of a little free speech, are you? Or is “wow, just wow” all you’ve got? Cat got your tongue or are you concerned a “Trump bot” might make you look bad?

          1. I thought not. Sit down, we ain’t in your dorm room anymore.

            Obviously, I assume these posts will be deleted to preserve the precious dignity of Mr. Traldi’s blog post, but if not this would serve as an interesting demonstration of a relevant issue (Mr. Traldi’s, not mine).

            “truth, free speech…

            I remember that academic freedom was a liberal value,…

            …I remember when conservatives were the snowflakes, too, when they were the ones who had fits over wording and believed that “silence is violence.

            Absurd, I thought. A small symbolic change with no effects other than to salve the feelings and prove the power of those who had pushed for it.”

            So, Mr. Traldi, how about it? How many of your friends and supporters would you send into the ring with me if I told you I’d give no quarter? That I was motivated to really put the screws in and twist the knife? How long would your finger hover the scroll button to think of someone you’d feel comfortable telling to engage your big bad interlocutor?

            You know and I know you’d be absolutely terrified to leave alone with me 98% of your “adult” “intellectual” “serious” friends as you imagine how many would come back to you crying, losing hope.

            If you think you’re one of these people, well, go ahead and ask him; ask him if you’re prepared to have me rip your life apart in text. You’re going to find he has no faith in your ability to defend yourself in open rhetorical combat. And if you’re not, then what are you? A little baby. Maybe nobody told you that because the rubber never met the road, but there it is. This is grown man shit, and I have no time for people who lack the IQ or the balls to engage on the merits with no artificial shields of what’s “problematic” or “not ok.”

        2. So what exactly ran through your head when you decided you could post, “durrrrrr my name is Ian, durrrrrrr I hate drumpf, durrrrrrr you’re a drumpf witch”?

          did you think this added to the discussion? did you think it made you look good?

          because here’s the deal (and maybe nobody else would tell you): it doesn’t add to the discourse and it makes you look like an unhinged baby.

          fortunately, I am a magnaminous gentleman and will give you 24 hours to redeem yourself by making a substantive post. you’d be well-advised to also take that time to seriously think about your life and what led you to this nadir.

          tick tock.

    2. Okay, so I’m going to reply to this because it’s where you seem to make your most intelligible points. You seem very well educated and very angry. I think the anger is weighing down your arguments, because I found all of your posts quite difficult to comprehend. I understand some of the blame for my lack of understanding is on my comprehension, and I wouldn’t mind discussing in a civil way to flesh out in the open where our disagreements actually lie.

      First, the thing that stood out to me most is the claim that the platform of the democratic party in the 1990s was to push forward a Stalinist/Maoist agenda in some sort of secretive way. That being that it was hidden from the author of the piece that what the left really wants is Stalinism/Maoism, and the positions he outlines as being considered liberal for the time was a front of some sort. Besides this seeming incredibly paranoid, it does nothing to address the actual argument of the essay which is that there has been a dramatic shift in what it means to be liberal or conservative. I found this point to be interesting and bought his argument that such a shift has happened. Mostly here I just mean that you didn’t provide any arguments, and no I don’t consider “do your own research” a strong argument.

      I recently heard of a movement called “Justice Democrats” that seems to sort of mirror the position the author outlined as what he used to think the party stood for. To be up front, there are some points that someone might criticize as socialist (or Stalinist or Maoist, but to be frank I have no education in those philosophies so I have no idea of the truth value of such a claim), but this is not what socialism is. A welfare state is not socialist. As far as I know there are no socialist countries as it entails public ownership of the means of production. Social democracy seems to be what the right is arguing against. Maybe this is pedantic, and maybe I am the one confused in the terminology. These are all very loaded words and I think stumbling blocks for genuine discourse where both parties seek to understand and grow from the conversation.

      Maybe it’s better this goes unsaid, but I find the way you discuss politics to be insane. You use anger and divisiveness, which generally beget more anger and divisiveness. This isn’t a sporting event, it’s a discussion about how we want the world to look, and we all have equal say by the existence of an equal vote.

      You seem very confident in your position. I’m sure you have some genuinely good points to make, but you haven’t made them here. All I know from your writing is that you will resort to ad hominem arguments (here I mean the strange points you made about the author being from a liberal background), and that you don’t like the democratic party.

      If I as simply too ignorant to be worth talking to, then I’m sorry for wasting your time. I don’t know much of anything about politics, and don’t strongly identify with either party. I used to hate corporations and capitalism a lot, but I’ve sort of softened on that view. I do like the idea of social democracy, but again am sort of too ignorant to throw my support behind anything. So, if you are interested in discussing politics here is an invitation to that. If you could spare hyperbole and attack in favor of a more measured discussion that’d be awesome. I’m sorry if some of this comes across as rude, my intention is not to disrespect you for no reason, but to develop my position on the issues at hand.

      1. First, the thing that stood out to me most is the claim that the platform of the democratic party in the 1990s was to push forward a Stalinist/Maoist agenda in some sort of secretive way.

        You’re getting the author of the article confused with the dingbat who wrote the first reply. The author of the article doesn’t claim that the Democratic party was pushing a covert Stalinist agenda. That was the idiot who authored the first comment.

  7. Joan Didion might provide a part of the answer as to why. Consider her essay ‘Fixed Opinions; or the hinge of history.” She might have been, if not the first, then probably the most insightful and articulate person to notice the “infantilism” that pervaded America a few months after 9/11. This infantilism become cultural, it grew and rooted in many parts of American life—politics, media, education. Generations of Americans came of age or grew up with this as lessons in their lives. I believe some philosophers describe some behaviors as “the new infantilism.” Those behaviors resemble their predecessors in Didion’s infantilism.

  8. It’s a matter of power.

    When Bush was in power, everything he did was opposed by progs simply because they hated Bush.

    But when Obama took over and continued the same policies, they were okay because Obama was at the helm. So, never mind Obama destroyed Libya, served Jews in arming terrorists against Assad, and even worked with Neo-Nazis to bring down the regime in Ukraine.

    Let’s face facts. The US is ruled by Judea or World Jewry. It’s not about left vs right at the top. It’s about Jewish supremacists wanting to keep supremacist power indefinitely. Jews will use ‘left’ and ‘right’ to secure their power.

    Of course, the dummies fall for ‘left’ vs ‘right’ nonsense, all the more so since ‘leftism’ today means ‘worship the homo’ and ‘rightism’ today means ‘worship guns’.

    Jews know that the ‘left’ is stupid, just like GOP elites know the ‘right’ is stupid. Just by manipulating symbolism, so many people can be fooled.

    GOP fooled a lot of white Christians with talk of morality that GOP elites never heeded to.
    Democrats fooled a lot of Progs and blacks with symbolism of the ‘historic’ first black president. As progs are enamored of Negro holiness, they wanted obama to succeed and overlooked all his foulness. In truth, he was just a puppet of Jews.

    If we want to deal with reality, we need to look at the true nature of power in the US. It is controlled by Jewish supremacists. It has to begin from there.
    If there is ONE issue both parties are totally agreed on, it’s WORSHIP JEWS and SUPPORT ISRAEL.

    Gee, I wonder why that is. And notice both parties are anti-Russian. Why? Jews hate Russia.

    1. Hmm. I think sometimes symbols are easier to hold onto than reality — they’re comforting and familiar. That’s part of what makes them persuasive even when their meaning shifts.

      Just an observation… you seem pretty sure that your use of the term “Jew” is not another example of a symbol that creates a narrative, a symbol that’s used to divide people, kind of like “left” and “right” are used by politicians. What makes one symbol better than another here for you since both “left”, “right”, and “Jews” refer to particular individuals occupying a particular position in time/space, all with their own particular values and interpretations of those values? If the symbol breaks down for the first two, than why not the other?

      Regarding “the true nature of power in the US”, what do you think about the Republican President’s past decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and his past decision to drag his feet about enforcing already existing sanctions on Russia? He’s enforcing them now. What changed for him. Do you think he’s manipulating the Israeli government or Russian government or that either of them is manipulating him?


    2. When I offered a short, polite and well thought response (devoid of name-calling) to the argument behind your fearful thoughts of a conspiracy, this magazine held my comment in moderation for days… sigh.

      I sincerely hope that you can rise above the fear in your heart and realize that each person on this planet is worthy of respect and dignity, no matter who their ancestors are or what their religion is. Fear and the symbols that are used to motivate that fear, be it “left”, “right”, or other stereotypes of groups (including Jews, Muslims, Christians, etc), keep us from seeing each other. That is a reality : )

  9. Well argued and a pleasure to read. Since I first learned that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican (being an ignorant Canadian, I’d assumed he was a Democrat), I’ve been fascinated by the inversions of left and right that play out over the years. Thanks for this piece.

  10. I agree with most of this, although in some cases, the comparisons between right and left engaging in the same sorts of behaviors don’t fully work.
    For instance, there is a fundamental difference between the invasions of privacy by the state during the War on Terror and the invasions of privacy that occur when an individual is shamed on social media by SJW’s for something they publicly said, those on the left who seem to desire more legal or state based investigation and sanction of unfashionable opinions do exist, but they are a noisy but small minority. Although, the use of shunning as a means of social control is something I used to associate with conservatism.
    Also, while this was touched on a bit in the essay, I would add to the list of formerly right wing attitudes on the left the tendency of many left/progressives to call for broader and more strict legal punishments for sexual misconduct. It seems illiberal to me to want more laws, more cops, and more people going to jail.

  11. “I feel your pain”. – Bill Clinton

    If group identity is now key, maybe getting shunned by the group is a potential path to new understanding if people are too young to remember on their own. Too bad identity politics (and maybe a kind of authoritarianism) are popular with many on right and left at the moment. Czesław Miłosz, Solzhenitsyn and Karl Popper are making some sense right now…

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