The progressive left needs to sort out its priorities. Is “non-gendered” language, for instance, more important than economic fairness? It’s time to decide, because failure to properly prioritize could hinder the whole movement.
Even casual observers of US domestic politics could quickly discern that while the right is more homogeneous and cohesive, the left is far more splintered. Conservatives, typically, are more willing to line up behind their chosen one, while liberals and progressives spend a disproportionate amount of time on infighting.
While polls show that Republicans are still broadly supportive of Trump (some fanatically so), there are also conservatives, disillusioned by the Trump presidency, whose votes are up for grabs, but who are no doubt put off by the increasingly alienating requirements of modern political correctness.
Take farmers. The farming industry supported Trump overwhelmingly in 2016. Last week, the National Farmers’ Union condemned him over his China tariffs, saying that instead of solving the industry’s problems, he has “created new ones” and is “making things worse.” Farmers are not a huge voting bloc, sure, but they are not insignificant either — and Trump spent time actively courting their votes four years ago.
In the right circumstances, motivated by their own economic interests, some of these people could be convinced to vote for a left-wing candidate like Bernie Sanders. After all, one in 10 Bernie supporters voted for Trump in 2016. Trump and Sanders could scarcely be more different on policy and personality, but they share some of the same appeal to disenfranchised voters.
In reality, the faction on the left preoccupied with these minor issues is actually relatively small, but they garner plenty of attention. Their me-me-me mindset presumes that the world must adapt itself to every individual’s specific idiosyncrasies, rather than accepting that the reality of life sometimes requires molding yourself to fit into wider society.
Readers should not construe this as an argument that Democrats ought to spend all their time worried about trying to court conservatives. In fact, the liberal establishment spends too much time doing that already. It’s why they nominate centrists like Hillary Clinton, hoping to appeal to moderate Republicans.
If they want to win, Democrats should nominate a populist who can excite the left-wing base and appeal to disillusioned Trump voters at the same time. Progressives know this. They know Biden is not the man for the job — and they know that they are not just up against Trump, but their own party establishment, too.
It’s time they got their priorities in order and focus on the big picture instead of minor trivialities. If they are serious about systemic change, the PC-obsessed wing of the movement needs to decide if it cares more about economic justice, Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal more than they care about trying to outdo each other in the self-righteousness Olympics.
If they are too busy throwing stones in their own house and “canceling” each other on social media, they risk taking their eyes off the prize — and it could be fatal.