Many Americans on the political left may still be celebrating the departure of Donald Trump from the White House. By now, quite a few of them might be secretly wondering what they have let themselves in for. Buyer’s remorse? There’s almost certainly some of that going around. Meanwhile, so many people on the right are, for the most part, in a malaise — stunned by the outcome of the 2020 election and perhaps struggling to find a silver lining. But there is one. Just as it all seems that all good has been snatched away, they can – or should – embrace a new challenge as the Resistance.
During the Trump years, leftists proudly described themselves as the Resistance – but they were really just in mourning for the loss of state authority and the false sense of security it gave them. During that same time period, conservatives and others – even some erstwhile Democrat voters – saw the possibility of a better America and a better government. Not a perfect government, because there is no such thing, but a better one. They saw that the Washington Swamp really could be drained – not entirely but enough to curb its worst excesses.
The New Resistance – The Real Resistance
Now that the statists have taken control again, those on the right largely have been branded outcasts or dangerous insurgents who threaten the very fabric of civilization. That mantle should be worn proudly, because the “civilization” they threaten is a dour, drab existence where citizens do not really enjoy life but merely endure it, waiting for the government to tell them what they may and may not do and say.
Left-leaning Bill Maher, host of a long-running HBO talk show, seems to have put his finger firmly on one throbbing pulse. Maher constantly digs the left, and Democrats in particular, for their promotion of so-called cancel culture and their “woke” ideology, which is based on the idea that individualism is inherently evil, all whites are racist, all men are misogynists, all heterosexuals are narrow-minded bigots, and enjoying life in general is something you are permitted to do only if you follow strict guidelines on what is socially acceptable.
On May 7, Maher expanded on his criticism of Democrats, accusing them, essentially, of draining all the joy out of life:
“Once upon a time, the right were the ones offended by everything, They were the party of speech codes and blacklists and moral panics and demanding some TV show had to go. Well now that’s us. We’re the fun-suckers now. We suck the fun out of everything: Halloween, the Oscars, childhood, Twitter, comedy.”
Is he right? There was a time when it seemed as though the core of conservatism was moral outrage. Granted, many conservatives might take issue with that characterization, but it is difficult to deny the general perception that once existed: Leftists were all about free love and having fun and rebelling against “the man,” while conservatives seemed uptight – yearning for an orderly, businesslike, strait-laced society of kind but unsmiling churchgoers who wouldn’t dream of making a joke at someone else’s expense.
Over the past eight years or so, those roles seem to have reversed. Democrats now belong to the party of big business and stifling government regulation. They get their campaign donations from Big Tech monopolies and Wall Street financiers. Their media pundits spend most of every day lecturing Americans on what they should and should not say and do and berating them for how racist they are.
Embracing the Outcast Role
Meanwhile, many conservatives have adopted a more libertarian outlook, embracing the premise that people should be able to live as they please as long as they are not actively engaged in harming anyone else. The establishment, which is for the time being firmly under the control of the progressive left, has deemed conservatism a subversive movement. Anyone on the right side of the political Grand Canyon is now a rebel — a renegade, battling to bring down society and democracy.
Should it feel good to be categorized in such a way? It does bring a certain sense of freedom that leftists may never again experience if they are convinced that they cannot survive without the Almighty State orchestrating their lives.
The notion that the coddled and fearful all live on one side and the defiant all operate on the other falls far short of realistic nuance. It would be a far better place if both sides could be secure enough to find at least a little common ground on the urgent issues of the day.
So, if you have been feeling despair since Trump moved away from Washington, you should raise your head, put a smile on your face, and revel in your new-found status as a rebel – knowing that the fight is not yet over and that better days are still ahead for this country.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.