The Left Should be Cautious of the Progressive Left
I have had multiple run-ins with the progressive left over my time as a political activist and now-political commentator. A number of friends are progressive leftists, and I identified as a socialist for a time before my political conversion to moderate conservatism. It has been breathtaking how quickly the politics of the progressive left has engulfed the left - to think it was just three years ago that Obama, a centrist by all accounts, was President and leader of the Democratic Party.
However, I am wary of the politics of the progressive left for a multiplicity of reasons. I have seen the UK Labour Party – once an electable centrist party turn into a far-left party which is engulfed in almost weekly anti-Semitism dramas and a pervading sense that the leader has some rather suspect loyalties. This is due, in part, to the influx and engulfment of the Labour Party by the progressive left and the inherent advantages and disadvantages that come with it.
The reality is that progressive leftism – both as an ideology and a political approach – is based solely on morals. Now, Is morality in politics inherently bad? No. In fact, quite the opposite in some cases; morality should be the basis of political actions; however, that morality must be tempered with the cold hard reality of the situation being faced. Unfortunately, sometimes morality has to be put aside for legitimate political reasons. That is the reality of politics globally by its very nature.
There is also the uncomfortable truth that viewing issues solely through the ideological prism of a person’s own beliefs is not conducive to effective results. Sometimes a solution might be labeled conservative or liberal; if it is effective, then it should not matter whether it is one political ideology or another in nature.
I have seen progressive leftists propose unworkable and ineffective solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing the globe. For example, the Green New Deal is weakened and made unworkable by the primary advocate's blind commitment to the values which the progressive left has adopted and made its own. No rational person denies climate change, but no rational person would propose a solution which involves possibly destroying the economy of the United States to do so.
For here's the tragedy of the story, the progressive left actually has decent priorities. We should be tackling the big issues facing the world like climate change and income equality. Where I with the progressive left differ is how we approach finding a solution. For progressive leftism comes as a package deal: there is no a la carte on this political dining menu. To the majority of the progressive left, if you are a believer in one aspect of progressive leftism, you must believe in and be a proponent of the rest of the beliefs of the ideology whether you truly believe in them or not. Principles over reason are de jure.
Why is this the case? A lot of progressive leftism draws its ideological basis from the ideas of old-time socialists like Senator Sanders and modern thinking on liberal college campuses. Both have their deeply ingrained flaws within them, but the one which will truly damage the left is the part arising from modern thinking on the campuses.
The reality is that liberal college campus thinking is a microcosm and distillation of leftism. Isolated within their own campus bubble and with a majority of students believing in it means that there is a real lack of challenge to their deep-seated beliefs. This lack of challenge – sometimes by de-platforming speakers who don't hold their specific views – leads to an atmosphere where ideological purity is upheld as a virtue than a roadblock to real progress, which is the reality in the real world where politics actually takes place.
With the progressive left engulfing the Democratic Party and its institutions, it has meant that increasingly issues solely discussed within the former are being touted to attract younger voters. Reparations, cultural appropriations, I could go on, but these issues are just distractions to the real issues facing America and the globe today. It is also an impediment to any Democratic nominee hoping to win in 2020.
"Kitchen table" in the US or "Bread and Butter" issues in the UK, where I reside, are what wins an election. Healthcare, the economy, public safety – these are what families are concerned about day-to-day, not whether a Halloween costume is "cultural appropriation." People want a stable job, a healthcare plan that works and for their children to feel safe – they don't care whether that's being done by a Democrat or Republican. We forget – especially being politicos ourselves – that politics is a sideshow for many people globally, including in America.
The Democratic Party should be cautious of supporting the progressive left. They are playing with fire by indulging the worst tendencies of progressive leftism, and it could lead to disastrous results if they are not handled with the utmost of political care. The reality is, if the progressive left takes control of the Democratic Party, it will be unelectable for a generation, which would be a tragedy for the United States. Every country needs an effective, strong, and electable opposition to ensure that the incumbent does their best to improve the country and are accountable for their actions. If you want a cautionary tale, just look at my own country.