Leftist Ideology's Greatest Threat: Guilt-Free Americans
“In the last 50 years of culture wars in America, there has been no stronger weapon than guilt. It is the Left’s great hammer of progress.” —Mark Bauerlein, Professor of English at Emory University
In an insightful column for American Greatness, Bauerlein nails the Left’s fundamental reason for despising Donald Trump. “He has no white guilt. He doesn’t feel any male guilt, either, or American guilt or Christian guilt,” Bauerlein explains. “He talks about the United States with uncritical approval — ‘America First’ — and that’s a thought crime in the eyes of liberals.”
That particular thought crime roils leftists most, because it is the antithesis of Barack Obama’s eight-year effort to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” into a nation where collective guilt would supplant American exceptionalism as society’s prevailing ethos. “Donald Trump would never refer to America as beset by the original sin of racism, as Barack Obama did frequently, and that makes him worse than a conservative,” Bauerlein writes. “President Trump is a bigot.”
Is there a drum the Left beats louder than the assertion America is an inherently racist nation? For leftist demagogues, history is more about the failure of “dead white Europeans,” a.k.a. the Founding Fathers, to eliminate slavery when it was impossible to do so, than it is about America being one of the first nations to end the worldwide-accepted practice, enduring a bloody war that cost 600,000 lives.
Moreover, more than 150 years after the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified, Americans must remain guilty. Thus Georgetown Professor Michael Eric Dyson, who accused Trump of having a “vast ignorance of black life,” advocates the establishment of Individual Reparations Accounts, whereby white Americans who never practiced slavery compensate black Americans who never experienced it. Students at UC Santa Cruz, who seized control of a campus building, were granted concessions by cowardly Chancellor George Blumenthal that included the requirement that all incoming students endure mandatory diversity training. In New Orleans, history itself is being eliminated, as workers remove Confederate monuments that “offend” progressive sensibilities.
All while black students demand — and receive — segregated housing accommodations on campuses across the nation.
Trump buys none of it. “When during the course of the campaign Mr. Trump refused to accept any guilt, the frustration and disbelief among the Democrats and the media were obvious,” Bauerlein notes.
That’s hardly surprising. Guilt — brilliantly sold as “political correctness” to make it more palatable for an unsuspecting public — has enjoyed a long and prosperous run. One that allowed leftists to dismiss every challenge to their agenda with epithets designed to simultaneously induce guilt and end debate. Americans opposed to open borders, or sanctuary cities? Xenophobes. Americans who eschew the LGBT agenda? Trans- and homophobic. Americans who question “refugees” from terror-torn nations being granted asylum? Islamophobic. And so on and so forth.
“If you can persuade an opponent that he’s wrong about a political issue, you can win the day’s debate,” Bauerlein explains. “But if you can make him feel guilty about his opinion, you’ve got him on the defensive forever.”
In two sentences the professor has described an eternally defensive GOP that controls Congress, the White House, and a plethora of legislative seats nationwide, yet still allows the Left to frame the agenda.
Hence, a GOP that could be trumpeting Aetna becoming the latest insurance giant to quit an imploding ObamaCare, defends itself against assertions their health care bill was written by “white guys.” The party funds the butchery of Planned Parenthood, cowed by Democrat assertions they’re conducting a “war on women.” Getting tax reform done, so the nation can get out from under the worst recovery in history? Firing former FBI director James Comey is a “distraction” for the GOP’s agenda, according to John Thune, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate.
That’s the same GOP that has abided the FBI’s Russian probe broadcast by Comey — even as they remained sanguine when Comey refused to confirm the agency had even begun investigating the felonious leaks of classified information aimed at de-legitimizing a Trump administration.
A Republican administration.
This dynamic of leftist guilt-mongering and GOP acquiescence to it set the stage for a man who “was going to shake things up, drain the swamp, expose that there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the parties, and if he offended his adversaries along the way, well, so be it,” writes Washington Beacon columnist Matthew Continetti, who nonetheless believes Trump “doesn’t face crises so much as manufacture them.”
No doubt. But for millions of Americans those crises, and the character flaws that engender them, pale in comparison to Trump’s ability to put the American Left on the defensive.
Instead of “bitter clinging” Americans in “flyover country” being forced to defend themselves, the focus shifted to bi-coastal progressive elitists with flimsy explanations regarding why “net” gains for the nation as a whole were more important than economically devastated Americans left behind by an emerging New World Order — one that disproportionately benefited the globalist-minded “progressive” elitists who championed it.
“Progressives” who couldn’t imagine their systematic contempt for “deplorable” Americans would ultimately cost them the election.
“Progressives” who still don’t get it. According to a PPRI-Atlantic survey, Trump voters were motivated by fears of “cultural displacement,” a rationalization rightly dismissed by National Review columnist Michael Brendan Dougherty as “one of the latest attempts to assure liberals and leftists that Trump supporters are unsympathetic.”
What’s really wearing out millions of Americans is $20 trillion of national debt, out-of-control agencies like the NSA, DOJ, FBI, EPA and IRS, a de facto invasion by millions of illegal aliens, public schools and universities that resemble indoctrination centers, and a mainstream media virtually indistinguishable from George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth.
And maybe, just maybe, the real reason Trump prevailed was an electorate faced with a binary choice decided to go with a highly problematic candidate instead of a thoroughly corrupt one — or the great unknown rather than an utterly untenable status quo.
“Donald Trump’s success, then, amounts to a calamitous disarmament of the Left,” Bauerlein concludes. “Not his occupation of the White House, but his termination of the game of guilt — for now, at least. Since the election, progressives have only amplified the charges. More and more, the protests look less like political speech and more like tantrums.”
That’s because they are tantrums, thrown by people who never imagined their “immutable truths” would be unmasked as the self-serving, guilt-inducing opinions they truly are. Moreover, leftists may be digging a much deeper hole than they realize: Trump’s dismissal of leftist guilt games is hugely problematic for them. Millions of Americans dismissing a burden they never should have carried around in the first place?
For America’s “social justice warriors,” that’s a calamitous disarmament of potentially catastrophic proportions.