When most conservatives these days think about the progressive movement that has stormed the gates of the nation’s consciousness, culminating with the George Floyd affair, they react with not only fear but also repulsion. The neo-Marxists who have seized the culture, with the aid and comfort of a doddering president willing to accommodate the loudest voices in his party and cowardly institutions bending to the will of extremists, have managed to force-feed the American people policies they oppose in large numbers. While the Democrats do not admit they are trying to eliminate all opposition, it is fair to say that if you were attempting to create a one-party state, you would do exactly what the Democrats have attempted to do since Donald Trump was elected president.
How many people actually support opening our borders, ignoring crime, and weakening gun rights? How many buy into queer theory, critical race theory, abortion on demand to the point of birth — or overturning foundational elements of a Constitution that has bound the nation together for almost a quarter of a millennium? Do Americans believe in confiscatory tax rates, reparations for slavery, and the enforced equality of outcomes inherent in the “equity” sought by progressives? As the Heritage Foundation put it, “Conservatives ask: ‘What can I do for myself, my family, my community, and my fellow citizens?’ Progressives ask: ‘What is unfair?’ ‘What am I owed?’ ‘What has offended me today?’ ‘What must my country do for me?’”
Progressive Movements and the NY Times
It is big corporate media that has almost singlehandedly kept the progressive nightmare alive. An objective press would have long ago unmasked the truly radical, culturally Marxist nature of the BLM movement in particular and how it stands in opposition to the views of the great bulk of Americans. Thus, it is beyond noteworthy, if not downright shocking, to witness the pied piper of the progressive movement admit defeat. But that is exactly what The New York Times has done in a piece entitled “The Failure of Progressive Movements,” in which it admits that none of the three such uprisings in this century — Occupy Wall Street, #MeToo, and Black Lives Matter — “have come close to achieving their ambitions.” One suspects that must have been a bitter pill for the Gray Lady to swallow.
In claiming these movements failed because of “elite capture” by wealthy liberals and poor organization — Occupy lacked structure, Black Lives Matter refused to name leaders, and #MeToo never quite became an organized movement — the NYT tries to soften the prevailing issue: ideology. The author bends over backward to argue that those movements failed not due to their far-reaching demands but because they did not “[create] a mass organization with a long-term plan — as labor unions, civil rights groups, evangelical Christians and other successful movements did in past decades.”
Or perhaps people were simply not comfortable with the content of the demands? Has it occurred to the NYT that most Americans may not actually embrace the public shaming of people’s character, or the chaos unleashed by spoiled white progressive rich kids with too much time on their hands, or believe their country is “systemically racist”?
The underlying problem with progressives is that they wish to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Years after the NYT famously posted an opinion piece entitled “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police,” author David Leonhardt hits at the heart of the problem, that “most Black Americans support major changes to policing but not less policing … The extent of BLM’s lasting influence is that “[m]edia organizations now capitalize Black when describing somebody’s race. President Biden has made Juneteenth a federal holiday. Universities emphasize identity in their curriculums.” But as progressive author Fredrik DeBoer told the NYT, these movements tend to prioritize “the immaterial and symbolic” over “the material and the concrete.” Indeed, progressives appear to prefer rioting and toppling a statue to putting in the hard work necessary to achieve their high-minded but resoundingly unpopular ambitions.
It is easy to forget just how close Democrats came to altering the entire fabric of the republic after squeaking out a narrow victory in 2020. Big structural change ordinarily comes in the wake of a landslide. And it was only the stubbornness and fortitude of one man, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who stood athwart the rush to socialism in his own party and yelled stop, as William F. Buckley liked to say. The party of Joe Biden appeared fully prepared to pack the US Supreme Court, turn left-leaning territories into states, and get rid of the Electoral College to all but assure that it would create a virtually permanent stranglehold on power. Border restrictions have become little more than recommendations — if that. And the radicals perversely reacted to out-of-control crime by not only calling for defunding the police and weakening the force of law in general but also publicly announcing that acts long considered crimes — think shoplifting — would no longer even be prosecuted, leading to the epidemic of smash-and-grab that has caused major chains such as Target and Starbucks to abandon inner cities across the land. And yet, typical of their backward thinking, you can be certain that private gun ownership would be on the chopping block if progressives had their way.
So, the NYT has finally revealed the first serious crack in the progressive armor. The next step might be to admit that the United States is, and long has been, a center-right country drawn to moderation but also responsive to persuasive social movements centered around broadly popular moral imperatives as large as the abolition of slavery, as urgent as curtailing the Great Depression, and as current as police reform. Perhaps progressives will, as always, take their marching orders from the pages of the nation’s “newspaper of record” and finally understand what the American people will accept and what they will not.