Have you noticed what a thrilling year it’s been for the Left? They’ve won just about every political argument. Gays can now marry, nationwide. People can be shamed for owning a Confederate flag. Trans fats are to be phased out of all food products. Landlords can be sued for unintentional discrimination. A socialist has polled well in the race for the presidency. ObamaCare has been ruled legal across the land.
And all those victories took place inside of one week! In recent months, meanwhile, marijuana has been widely legalized; “micro-aggressions” and “trigger words” have been banned at universities; high minimum wages have swept through state legislatures; the federal overtime scale has been rejiggered to add millions to eligibility; Israel, once the darling of Progressives, has been shunned.
It is an astonishing acceleration of left-wing victories. Even more remarkable is that these changes have occurred during one of those rare moments in recent American history when the Republicans control both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court.
Over the past century, America has moved steadily, if slowly, leftward, to the point where a 1960s student radical would today come off as a right-wing chauvinist. But the past year alone has seen a whirlwind of Leftist wins, a swift conquest of many social issues, and a nationwide shift toward a more uniform cultural liberalism. Even many on the Left are scrambling to catch up.
Why the sudden series of successes?
Much of it is due to a recent flurry of Supreme Court decisions that have favored Democrats. Much of that, in turn, grows out of the modern Court’s view — especially when dealing with awkwardly written legislation like the Affordable Care Act — that it is the justices’ role to exercise “judicial restraint” by bending over backwards to accommodate Congress, to the point of re-interpreting laws so they work better. (Whether the Court would offer similar assistance to recent conservative legislation remains to be seen.)
In the meantime, public discourse has turned decidedly against the Right on most social issues. This trend accelerates every time a wing-nut does something horrid like killing Blacks in church and waving a hated flag. In general, the Right has managed to come off like a nasty Scrooge, while the Left gets sympathy as the heroic underdogs.
Clothing fashions change all the time, yet the classics remain — pleated slacks, button shirts and suits for men, skirts and blouses, pantsuits and heels for women. Food fashions shift and morph, yet the timeless dishes endure, like eggs and potatoes, salads, bread, ice cream. Same for the arts: people enjoy the latest pop music, but our kids keep rediscovering the Beatles. Yet the political classics — pay as you go, live and let live, be responsible, eat what you like, don’t do drugs, tolerate some social buffeting — are disappearing like dinosaurs, overrun by a hairy behemoth of centralized government mandates and cultural dictates.
Republicans are useless, as they simply say “No!” to every new idea, with the result that the only solutions come from the Left. And the Left tends, with naive eagerness, to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
I happen to favor many of the new trends, like gay marriage and drug decriminalization. But I’m unnerved by how those decisions were determined — in some sort of media-driven national stampede of consensus, bolstered by legislation and corkscrew courtroom decisions.
When the liberals are done jumping up and down, pumping their fists in the air in victory dances, I hope they’ll stop for a moment and ponder how they’d have reacted, had these decisions gone the other way. Wouldn’t they have seethed with resentment at those troglodyte Right Wingers who stole justice from the masses? Now imagine what’s happened in tens of millions of conservative homes across the country, as those liberal victories were announced on their TVs: they’ve churned with anger, enraged that so many traditions they hold dear have been brushed aside by fervent Progressives.
The problem isn’t that somebody won a cultural argument. The problem is that the result is imposed on everyone across the land. America was founded with the idea that people could come here and pursue their own dreams. But Progressives want everyone to have the same dream, to march in lock step toward a future of justice and equality — and no trans fats — and local traditions be damned.
There’s a dark side to centralizing all these outcomes. What if, some day, our huge central government, that’s been treating the Left so nicely, suddenly turns away? What if the stresses and strains of political life cause voters temporarily to be enticed by demagogues who reward their trust by clamping down on anyone who doesn’t get with their program? What if, for instance, gays are suddenly outlawed, subject to arrest on sight? To where will they escape? The law will be applied everywhere equally; the old idea of states’ autonomy, pushed aside in recent years, won’t be there to protect them.
The same goes for a favorite intoxicant, or a revered entitlement, or a preferred regulation. If it’s all decided in D.C., it’s “one size fits all” … and liberals might someday find they’re the wrong size.
“But you said liberalism has been winning for years!” Absolutely. And where, from here, can liberalism go? Its tenets lead to centralized authority of greater and greater size. But to what end? Socialism? Marxism? Or the arbitrary rule of a small cadre of super-rich, super-powered politicos? Because that’s what happens when one central authority ends up with all the power. We may still get to vote, and we’ll tell ourselves our ballots count. But we’ll have to obey central edicts whether they favor us or not. There will be no escape to a different state, no local oasis of freedom for our lifestyles. All must comply.
In that world, with luck, we might still smoke what we like or marry whom we desire … but only the correct type of drug or the allowed form of marriage. There’ll be pages of forms to fill out if you want to obtain permission to engage in these activities.
In short, your social justice will be granted to you by a higher authority. And that authority will take it away when it sees fit. You’ll all be equal, and you’ll all have the same culture. But you won’t be free.
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