The constant mischief of the progressive left is hurting the nation’s morale. There are few areas of national life left in which they are not busy, and few in which they’re not making it worse. There are always more regulations, fees and fiats, always more cultural pressure and insistence. – Peggy Noonan
AFTER Terry McAuliffe’s win in Virginia it became very clear to Republicans that the culture war waged by the Reaganites had not only failed, but that progressive social values had won. In a midterm year that reveals Democrats are clearly facing a tough slog to keep the Senate, Republicans are also losing the political affiliation battle, even as independents keep rising. Even more importantly, potential voters just aren’t allying themselves with religious conservatives anymore.
Peggy’s very depressed about it all:
I think a lot of people right now, certainly Republicans and conservatives, feel like a guy in a batting cage taking ball after ball from an automatic pitching machine. He’s hitting the ball and keeping up and suddenly the machine starts going berserk. It’s firing five balls a second, then 10. At first he tries to hit a few. Then he’s just trying to duck, trying not to get hurt.
That’s how people feel about the demands and dictates. The balls keep coming at them politically, locally, culturally. Republicans and conservatives comprise at least half the country. That’s a lot of people.
By “a lot of people” she means establishment types who have lost the country as surely as Noonanites have lost sway with the Republican Party, except for those gerrymandered districts of political apartheid where the Tea Party reigns.
From the Washington Post this past week comes the source of Peggy’s ills:
Before the 1990s, Republicans won as much as 43 percent of non-religious voters, but suddenly began losing them by a 2 to 1 margin just as the group began to grow. By 2008, voters with no religion had grown to 12 percent of the electorate – more than Hispanics – and Barack Obama won them in 2008 and 2012 with wider margins than any previous Democrat. Mitt Romney narrowed the gap in 2012, though at 44 points he was hardly competitive. It’s important to note that most of these voters are not full-on atheists espousing intense opposition to religion on principle, but agnostic or “nothing in particular.”*
Why did this shift happen? In their book American Grace, sociologists David Campbell and Robert Putnam argue that the rising number of “nones” and their increasing Democratic tilt are a reaction to the Republican Party’s tightening alignment with Christian conservatives since the 1980s. In one recent example, a 2012 Pew Research Center poll found two in three religiously unaffiliated Americans agreeing that religious conservatives have too much control over the Republican Party.
Chuck Todd was actually the first to also point out that the people challenging Democratic senators in 2014 are from the House, the most unpopular group of lawmakers around. Todd said on “Morning Joe” this week that if Democrats can tag the Republican House extremism and unpopularity to those members trying to get into the Senate by beating Democratic incumbents it’s very likely Obama will hold the Senate.
This reality seems to be at the foundation of Peggy Noonan’s desperate cry. Once at the top of the political food chain, Noonan has seen the so-called “moral majority” collapse in the face of changing demographics and an American culture who has outgrown the traditional patriarchy of our religious institutions. The now dead Jerry Falwell model has been extinguished, as the U.S. Constitution asserts itself in a way the Reaganites never imagined.
All men being equal is now applied to women who work outside the home and split the bills, if not the housework, with men, while gays and lesbians co-habitate legally through a definition of marriage Peggy Noonan can’t get her head around.
It’s all hidden inside a big government squeal, because Mrs. Noonan cannot admit the failures of her generation of Republican that includes not being able to accept that Ronald Reagan offered the mother of all tax increases back in the 1980s, which his own economist keeps reminding them.
Then Noonan goes off:
In the dark screwball comedy that is ObamaCare, the Congressional Budget Office revealed last month the law will provide disincentives to work. Don’t worry, said Nancy Pelosi, people can take that time and go become poets and painters. At first you think: Huh, I can do that, I’ve got a beret. Then you think: No, I have to earn a living. Then you think, poor hardworking rube that you are: Wait a second, I’m subsidizing all this. I’ve been cast in the role of Catherine de Medici, patroness of the arts. She at least had a castle, I just get a bill!
Noonan’s projectile mumbling is sounding more and more like Dick Morris these days. She’s just sure something has gone terribly wrong and it’s all the fault of the “aggressive left,” because — wait for it — President Obama is such an extremist.
Meanwhile, Bill Moyers just had a conversation with political science Adolph Reed about the “surrender of America’s liberals” that is getting a lot of buzz in progressive activist circles.
I often note that, you know, working people in America got more from Richard Nixon than we got from Clinton or Obama. And it’s not because he was our fan, right, it’s because, you know, the labor movement and what has since been called the social movement of the ’60s were dynamic enough forces in the society that even Nixon, who called himself a Keynesian, felt that there was a need to respond to them.
So that’s how we got occupational health and safety, affirmative action like other stuff. So it’s not, and, see, this is the key point, I think, right. Because one of the ways that our politics have been hollowed and a source of the collapse of the left is a forgetting, right? A kind of social amnesia about what movement building is and how and what social movements are and how they’re constructed.
Peggy’s depressed that no one’s listening to her type anymore and that the corseted culture that fit the
Reagan Republican establishment so snugly has been ripped apart by Bill de Blasio and Elizabeth Warren.
Progressives are dealing with the reality that since they didn’t primary President Obama no one’s going to listen to them about Hillary Clinton. The system exacts a price, even for the righteous, which begins with accepting that the person running the system has to first make it through the gauntlet put in place by the system operators, be it Wall Street, capitalism, the military industrial complex, or all of the above.
Meanwhile, America has forever changed, with liberal views winning where we each live our lives.
It’s just one reason Senator Rand Paul’s turned to happy warrior rhetoric, which disguises the policy austerity he believes in, because the harsh message of the Republican Party has been soundly rejected.
…and why the vast majority of Democrats want Hillary Clinton to run in 2016.