At this fraught juncture in our brief, storied history, America seems almost terminally divided. Day by day, week by week, the chasm only appears to widen, as if the grinding plates of our scorched earth political discourse have finally shifted so violently that we’ve been torn into separate continents. But is there any possibility of making common cause with those who march under another flag?
In the midst of what might be described as a sustained fever dream of hate on the left for all things President Trump, there are muted signals from some members of the Democratic Party that suggest the possibility of a degree of political détente.
Alan Dershowitz, Jonathan Turley, Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Bill Maher – all of them are Democrats. None of them voted for Trump, and none of them will. But neither are any of them addled by loathing for the president, though they disagree with his policies, are exasperated by his rhetoric, and are disquieted by his social media habits. All of that sounds oddly quaint, hearkening back as it does to a time when advancing rational, defensible positions on political matters was the rule rather than the exception.
Can liberalism make a come-back if conservatives meet free-thinking Democrats halfway?
Sparks of Sanity on the Left?
As a lifelong Democrat, Alan Dershowitz put his reputation, career, credibility, and social life on the line when he defended Trump against claims of his alleged collusion with Russia, which was being investigated by the special counsel, Robert Mueller. His defense of a man for whom he did not vote and likely disapproves was an example of loyalty to the Constitution and equally applied standards of fairness as opposed to the demands of party loyalty. Dershowitz suffered the shunning of his friends and associates for his defense of the pariah president.
Like Dershowitz, Jonathan Turley also testified in Congress as part of the impeachment proceedings against Trump and made it clear that “I’m not a supporter of President Trump. I voted against him.” Nevertheless, he marshaled an impassioned argument on the challenges of proving an abuse of power charge. He stated that he felt there was “neither complete nor compelling proof of an impeachable offense.” The Senate agreed, and Turley stood as another example of principles over party.
Another Democrat, journalist Matt Taibbi, is a contributing senior editor for Rolling Stone magazine, as well as a staunch Bernie Sanders supporter. He is no fan of Trump, having authored a book in 2017 entitled Insane Clown President. But ever since Sanders, seeking his party’s nomination, was twice railroaded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Taibbi has begun to be sharply critical of his own party’s orthodoxies.
He penned a scathing column in June in which he posited that “the American left has lost its mind,” and believes the overwhelmingly progressive mainstream press is now a “cowardly mob of upper-class social media addicts.” Taibbi also recently trashed the left’s new bible on race, White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo, as possibly “the dumbest book ever written.” Taibbi is that rarest of journalists today: a free thinker. That is both a threat to the left and a boon to the truth.
Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept is another needle in a haystack – an avowed Liberal Democrat and journalist of good conscience who hasn’t had his DNA re-helixed by his opposition to Donald Trump. He has appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News and states he has learned a lot by watching the show – sacrilege to the left, for whom Carlson is a monster they are bent on canceling.
Speaking of erasure, Greenwald exposed the hypocrisy of J.K. Rowling’s letter that was co-signed by over 150 liberal luminaries decrying cancel culture, when it was revealed that he himself was “canceled” from signing it by insider vote. Greenwald is no stranger to this new fascism, insisting his appearances on MSNBC were terminated after he began to criticize the Great Russia Collusion Hoax, which was the network’s bread and butter at the time.
Bill Maher is a card-carrying Democrat who rails against the president every chance he gets – which is every week on television when his show is taping. But Maher also diverges from progressive orthodoxy on everything from Islam to identity politics, to vaccines, to over-reactions to COVID-19 – and even the left’s fake racial piety of not referring to the “Chinese” Coronavirus. Maher is a lightning rod for controversy who gives Democrats just as many chills for his breaches of acceptable opinion as he elicits thrills in them for his slams on Trump. Maher doesn’t believe in party uber alles as much as he believes in honesty at all costs and land-mining political correctness.
Admittedly, this is a modest shortlist of sometime political adversaries with whom conservatives might potentially break bread on topics important to America, such as corporate de-platforming and the metastasizing attacks on free speech. Add impressive, free-thinking Tulsi Gabbard, principled former NYT writer Bari Weiss, and brilliant Rubin Report host Dave Rubin to the list – all of whom reek of integrity – and you don’t have so much a quorum as a start.
Those on the right will have to be willing to draw down the bridge and meet their counterparts in the middle, where footing can be unsteady and where it isn’t easy to take cover. For the sake of the Republic, which is in grave peril right now, let’s hope Americans on both sides are willing to cross the divide and bridge the unbridgeable gap.
Read more from Pennel Bird.