The Left’s Politics of Dissatisfaction — And What to Do About Them

Saying “No” to the Left’s agenda will demand bravery, steady indignation, and gratitude for the land of the free and the home of the brave.

By Rob Schwarzwalder Published on June 19, 2017

America is a nation of unparalleled liberty, prosperity and security.

Will it remain so? The answers to this question are many. They are not always positive. 

Most Americans are Content

Most Americans are grateful and relatively content. They want improvements to our national life, but not sudden or sweeping changes. They like their culs-de-sac, supermarkets, family vacations, public schools and universities, health care and so forth.

Well they should. If the world were a milk pail, Americans would be swimming in the cream. That’s why a Gallup Poll published in January of this year showed that 87 percent of Americans are satisfied “with the way things are going in (their) personal lives.”

Hold up, you might be saying. There’s terrorism, talk of impeaching the President, and the debate over health care. What are we going to do about Russia? North Korea? Iran? 

Despite the issues facing us, we remain optimistic and basically glad we are here. And that’s where politics enters the equation.

And how about abortion, racism, the redefinition of marriage, and massive substance abuse? The erosion of the family, human trafficking, and the plague of pornography? What of the national debt, our dangerously hollow military, the durability of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? The continuous expansion of the welfare/administrative/regulatory state?

These and other issue tear at the fabric of the things we hold dear. Our problems are serious, many, and pressing.

At the same time, can anyone deny that America remains a land whose blessings unfold around us every day? Not anyone who has traveled in the developing world, certainly. Nor anyone who has lived in an authoritarian country or lived next to an aggressive national neighbor.

The point is this: Despite the issues facing us, we remain optimistic and basically glad we are here. And that’s where politics enters the equation.

Not ‘More Perfect’ — Different

For politicians to thrive, they have to focus on real or felt needs. That doesn’t mean they are all cynically exploiting people’s anxieties or angers. Many just want to make things better. But some of them have darker motives.

People on the hard Left have a very different vision of American life than most of us. They want a country more socialistic than not. They view American history not as something essentially noble, although stained by wrongs. They see it as a long march of hypocrisy, brutality and venality. It’s a false vision but they hold it tenaciously.

That’s why, in the words of Barack Obama just before his 2008 election, they want to “fundamentally transform” the United States. They do not want a more perfect Union but a very different one.

The bonfire of strife is fed by the gasoline of hatred. Of depersonalization. Overstatement. And resentment, rancor and rage.

Then there is the hard Right, people who meld patriotism with blind nationalism. Sometimes their views are tinged by a subtle (or even overt) racism. Their concern over their country’s future has gone from worry to rage.

It is extremists on the Left and Right who continually seek to change the public debate. “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” as then-White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel said in 2009. “What I mean by that is that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

In other words, when people are vulnerable and afraid, seize the moment to ram-through something that generally they would see as radical and dangerous.

Policy-making at its best, right? Thoughtful deliberation and representative self-government get thrown to the wind. Instead, the exploitation of fear and urgency becomes a weapon in the radical’s arsenal.

Exploitation Politics

The extreme Right has done this too, at times. A few years ago, Senator Marco Rubio proposed a thoughtful and comprehensive plan to reform our broken immigration system. Immediately, anti-immigration extremists shouted “Amnesty!” Respectful debate about the Rubio plan was lost in a deluge of insinuation and attack.

The calculated use of national crises to impose extreme policies is becoming more common. People who are driven by an agenda incompatible with our Constitution and plain good sense don’t care. They are willing to impose instead of convince, to manipulate instead of persuade.

This is a major reason political discourse has become so heated. Extreme Left and extreme Right, although minorities of the population, are also the most vocal elements of it. They get a lot of attention: Strife sells and it also fuels activism. And the bonfire of strife is fed by the gasoline of hatred. Of depersonalization. Overstatement. And resentment, rancor and rage.

Slowly Boiled

But there’s another aspect to all of this. That’s the essential inattention of the American people.

As noted earlier, most of us like the basics of our lives. And since most changes in public policy have limited immediate effect on us, it’s easier to shrug and say, “It’s all just politics.  Now, where’s the remote?”

Our very contentment thereby becomes the water in which we slowly are being boiled. Added to this is the deluge of information about so many troubling and complex things. Overload a circuit board and the lights go out. Overload a mind and heart and they shut-down, too.

Our very contentment becomes the water in which we slowly are being boiled.

Cable news, the Web, and social media overload us with weighty things, usually from an at least center-Left perspective. Add to this the liberal extremism of many newspapers’ editorial pages and of most university liberal arts professors. And, too, many on the Left are unconcerned with fairness or accuracy. They misrepresent things because of their fierce devotion to their articles of faith.   

So, then, how can we say no to those who are willing to divide, at any cost, for the sake of political conquest? 

Saying ‘No’ to the Left’s Agenda

There are a number of things, but the one I believe most essential is for people of good will and common sense to look extremism — and, let’s face it, most of it comes from the Left — in the eye and say, “No.” And keep saying no.

This demands not just courage but an understanding of what the nation is being asked to become. Want more benefits? Get ready for higher costs. Want more federal protections? Get ready for less personal liberty. Want greater security? Get ready for greater federal intrusions.

People of good will and common sense must look extremism in the eye and say “No.”

Hold these self-evident truths before you every day. Along with certain other self-evident truths. That there is a Creator. That He chose to create each of us and has given us certain unalienable rights.  That the job of government is not to take away, redefine, or curtail these rights but to protect them.

Then you’ll be ready to work for a more perfect Union in the recognition that this side of heaven, the perfection sought by “Progressives” is impossible. I’d love to hear conservative politicians and other leaders ask a Leftist a simple question: “What do you like about America?” Turn the tables and expose the phoniness of the critique.

Saying “No” to the Left’s agenda will demand both bravery and steady indignation. And also gratitude for the land of the free and the home of the brave. This appreciation will swell more and more as we remember blessings of liberty, prosperity and security God graciously allows us to enjoy every day in our unique and beautiful country.

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