One of the comments I get a lot—both on this site and in private emails—is that I spend too much time bashing the Left rather than going after Trump and his minions. I’ve tried to respond repeatedly, but somehow my message doesn’t get through.
So let me say this again. I am a liberal, a Democrat, and I despise Trump and what the Republican party has become—and has been for a long time. Trump is a serious danger to the American republic, and getting rid of him in November should be the highest priority of anyone who cares about America. He is a bully, a narcissist, and deeply unhinged; in fact, I suspect he’s got some neurodegenerative condition, though it may only be fulminating and acute narcissism.
Okay, got that?
Now I could spend a lot of time, as many Left-wing writers do on their websites, excoriating Trump and calling out his follies (in fact, I do that a fair amount). But then there would be nothing to set me apart from the gazillions of Leftists who write nearly identical can-you-believe-this-man articles about the horrors of Trump and Trumpism. I don’t want to just say “me too” in post after post about Trump. It’s terribly boring for me.
Instead, I have found a comfortable niche calling out the excesses of the Left. I do this for several reasons: to try keeping my side of the spectrum fairly pure, sane, and non-hypocritical, because I fear that these excesses may help Trump gain a second term, and because I don’t think people see these excesses reported in the mainstream media (“MSM”, as it’s now called). Sure, you can see them reported by the gloating right-wing media: Fox News, Breitbart, and college sites like Campus Reform. But most readers here don’t read those sites, and a lot of what they write about is exaggerated, and certainly biased toward the Right. Readers here are definitely left of center, and so perhaps I can inform them a bit. It’s not that I set out to cater to the political tastes of a known group of readers (that’s what the New York Times does), but that readers have gravitated here because, I guess, they want to read what I have to say, and to chime in with other people who are largely (but not completely) like minded.
So I write about what interests me, and what interests me more than just getting rid of Trump, about which I can do little save vote (and call him out from time to time), is staving off the fulminating wokeness of the Left. Andrew Sullivan does that, too, though he’s more to the right than I, and there are others in the Left-wing niche, like Jesse Singal. That niche is comfortably spacious, and I enjoy occupying it more than I would adding one more Trump-bashing post to those that fill the Internet.
But it behooves us from time to time to remember that our main goal has to be the expulsion of Trump from the White House. And rather than say it myself, let me quote another Leftie, the estimable Nick Cohen. In his latest piece in the Guardian, Cohen, who’s done his share of Left-bashing, reminds us that the Right is worse than the Left (though perhaps not a lot worse than the most extreme members of the Left). But the Right has power, and the radical Left doesn’t.
Click on the screenshot to read it:
Here are a few quotes from Cohen’s piece:
. . . in this terrible year, it is worth saying that moral equivalence is not the same as practical equivalence. As the world stands, the fight against the radical right is a fight for the preservation of liberal democracy. The fight against the far left is a fight for justice for the individual denied the freedom to express his or, and more frequently today, her opinions without post-Stalinist inquisitors demanding she confesses her ideological crimes or lose her job.
Both fights are essential but the difference in scale is so enormous it barely makes sense to put them in the same category. The best way I can explain why is to imagine an American announcing they were voting for Donald Trump because they were repelled by how the New York Times and US universities had removed journalists and academics who would not bow their heads and bite their tongues. You would, I think, tell them that their sense of proportion was so out of balance it was a wonder they did not topple over. Trump has the power to threaten the American constitution. He has stuffed his administration with cronies and relatives, and damned thousands of Americans to needless deaths from Covid-19. He is hoping to retain power by encouraging far-right terrorism and ballot rigging. Given the anarchic glee that Trump and the Republicans display when they block defensive measures against global warming, his defeat is a necessity not just for the United States but for humanity.
I don’t deny that leftish cultural influence is a form of power. If you are forced out of your job in a university or publisher, or told what you can and cannot teach, think and write, it is a power that can crush you. But political power with the ability to crush tens of millions of people is in the hands of the radical right. And not just in the United States. Britain, Hungary, Poland, Russia, India, Turkey, Brazil and the Philippines are democracies that have been taken over by governments that to varying degrees despise independent checks and are determined to humble any institution that might curb them.
. . . However vicious it may be, the far left has not overrun the western centre-left as the radical right has overrun mainstream conservatism. Labour MPs were willing to give up their careers to fight against antisemitism and the toleration of totalitarian ideas and regimes. Compare that with the US, where only Mitt Romney and a handful of Republican politicians have risked losing office by fighting to stop their party becoming Trump’s personality cult. British Conservatives who were prepared to oppose the national catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit were either purged by Johnson, in an example of the Stalinism on the right, or walked away from the party in despair at the last election. They showed a courage their successors lack. With only months to go before we could crash out of the single market and customs union, no prominent Conservative politician is prepared to speak for the national interest or even debate it.
Conservatives have written with accuracy about how cancel culture and political correctness have moved disgusted voters rightwards. They always forget to mention that the converse also applies. Trump has destroyed America as an example for the world to follow and authorised every reaction against it. Extremism begets extremism. When you have an unapologetic racist as American president, all opposition is legitimate and the most zealous opposition can feel the most legitimate of all. As I say, you should not have to choose. But if you must, fight the power that presents the greatest threat, because once the far right is defeated, it will be easier to fight the far left.
I agree with all of this, so let this stand as the way I feel about the Right versus the Left— in America, the UK, and the other countries Cohen mentions above.
And while I’m at it, you won’t often see criticisms of Islam, or the theocratic perfidies of Islamic countries, in the Left-wing media. But you’ll find those critiques here.