by Henry Lamb
The rise of Donald Trump and the half of America that voted for him has brought with it the inevitable liberal retaliation. The pendulum seems to swing both ways, as many would consider the election of President Trump as backlash against the “liberal establishment.” With a man in office who searches for any opportunity to walk back the progress many liberals have fought for in the past years, the liberal movement appears to have grown more extreme. This shift towards the far left has only proven to highlight the many faults and flaws of the liberal movement.
Some of the flaws in the way liberals act on their beliefs may trace back to the movement’s strong base in America’s youth. A PEW survey found that 52 percent of millennials identify as liberal, while only 25 percent identify as conservative. Though the Democratic party enjoys a wide variety of supporters of all ages, oftentimes the younger base is more outspoken and more aggressive than the rest.
While the drive and ambition of young activists can impress and inspire the world to action – something we may be watching with the current gun control debate – it can also lead to very misguided and very public outbursts that do nothing but hurt their cause. This can be seen especially on college campuses. A video of a liberal woman tracking down, harassing, and accusing a dreadlocked white man of cultural appropriation went viral a couple of years back. The woman’s aggressive and confrontational nature not only fails to convince anyone one of her beliefs, which may or may not be valid, but also makes people question the liberal movement as a whole. People will struggle to identify with liberal ideals when they are championed by such immature behavior.
A classic stereotype of conservatives is that they love to say things they know will rile up the liberals. Baiting liberals is one of President Trump’s favorite pastimes; It’s also exactly what appeals to his die hard base. This conservative stereotype exists because you can always count on liberals to express their blind outrage. Liberals can’t merely just let an idiotic statement go. They have to make everyone aware of their moral outrage on platforms such as Twitter instead of tearing down the statements logically and with intelligence. This pushes conservatives away and ruins later chances of pushing more liberal ideas into mainstream America. When untamed and unrefined, youthful political energy comes across as childish and whiney to the other side, and as a result their legitimate ideas aren’t taken seriously.
Another flaw in the liberal movement is the sense of righteousness many carry. Since liberals always look to make changes for the better, they may see themselves as the enlightened side. As a consequence, they tend to look down on anybody who differs with their opinion; they see them as ignorant conservatives. This type of mindset likely emboldened the woman in the dreadlock video to act so shamefully. Perhaps liberals would find success practicing what they preach. Yes, an admirable focus for the liberal movement is equality across race, gender, and sexuality. The emphasis on tolerance is a major draw for many to the Democratic Party. However, liberals fail to practice tolerance when it comes to differing opinions. Attempting to morally elevate one political side will only work to further alienate the other side.
As someone who supports many liberal ideals and goals, I hope the movement will work to fix its broken and ineffective culture.
(Sources: PEW Research, NY Times)