As someone who once vaguely supported left-leaning ideals, I believe the progressive wing of the party must change their tone if they want to appeal to those of us without biased politics. The only way this burgeoning left movement can earn a seat at the table of shallow compromises is if they adjust their approach to the discourse and welcome undermining views.
The first rhetorical mistake the left needs to stop making is the constant demonization of their opponents. Some of you claim to feel threatened by what the other side wants, that the natural conclusion of their views is violence. I regret to inform you that this is a slippery slope, and just like a water slide, it’s a fun yet illogical leap. Yes, some of the policies put forward by the other side might seem alarming at first glance, but I think you’ll find that if you make an effort to listen to them they will do you the courtesy of rephrasing those beliefs very politely.
I don’t mean to play “gotcha” here, I’m only asking questions so we can all come to a common understanding. If you take a moment to actually hear the other side, you’ll find that there’s a complex person behind the knee-jerk and reductive views that influence their actions. We’re all human, and since there’s no way of knowing you wouldn’t share those same views if you were in their circumstances, you can’t really criticize them.
Again, I’d like to stress that I’m not picking sides, only acting as an observer. As such, I can say with certainty that some of you are approaching these issues from a point of emotion that’s clouding your judgment. If there’s one position I hold firmly, it’s that emotional reactions that motivate people to political action have no place in the dispassionate domain of policy discussions.
Unfortunately, many of the arguments I see coming from the left are built upon the shaky foundation of feelings. It’s rather unbecoming when the left shouts incessantly about how they feel unsafe in the current political climate. Speaking about how these issues affect you personally is frankly a narrow and reductive way of addressing topics that concern your rights. The only way to seriously engage in politics is to be disengaged, otherwise it’s merely ideological tribalism.
Tribalism is a primitive mode of thinking, it says so right in the name. I prefer to model my guiding philosophy on The Age of Enlightenment, which has a much more thoughtful name and is based on a period of history that gave rise to the entire industrialized economy and relentless consumption opportunities that progressives are so ungrateful for today.
Because if the left wants to secure vague praise from their skeptics, they need to start condemning the agitators on their side. Direct action is never the solution to decades of systemic violence and abuses of power. If you look at only the most famous quotes from Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. you’ll find they too agreed that the most important element of civil disobedience was that it be civil.
While I am continuously disapproving of the left’s attempts to gain influence, I do broadly agree with their political goals. It would be great if certain improvements were made to the system, just not too many and certainly not too quickly. The people currently experiencing difficulty have been doing so for years already, so there’s no need to rush the implementation of policy that will improve their conditions. Change makes people very uncomfortable, particularly those who are already accustomed to comfort, and it is equally unfair to suddenly upend their situation. It is also a strategic blunder, as attempting to take power from the other side will only further goad them into using it against you.
For the left to achieve respectability they need to re-evaluate how they approach the issues. If progressives refuse to account for their biases and engage in good faith with the marketplace of ideas, then I fear that public debate will forever be coarsened. Nothing would be more tragic to a free society. Little good can come from vilifying those who oppose your best interests, but if we come together we can all be collaborators.