Last week, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Gerard Alexander, an associate professor of politics at the University of Virginia, titled, “Liberals, You’re Not as Smart as You Think.” The piece is an intriguing analysis of how liberals are hurting their own cause by presuming their mental and moral superiority, and thus, are inviting significant backlash against their favored agenda. The prime example is how liberals use their virtual monopoly in the media and the entertainment industry to ruthlessly bash Trump. They’re very protective of this monopoly as their goal is ideological segregation. Any signs of diversity of thought are met with disgust and hatred. The most recent example is probably the demonization of Kayne West for his support of Donald Trump.
Does this propaganda work? Not really, according to Professor Alexander. “When [liberals] use their positions in American culture to lecture, judge, and disdain, they push more people into an opposing coalition that liberals are increasingly prone to think of as deplorable.”
Liberals have gotten so used to their values dominating popular culture that even the absence of explicit support for left-wing politics merits criticism. Many left-wing voices criticized the hit indie film Juno for being anti-abortion because the teenage protagonist of the movie chooses to give her unborn baby up for adoption rather than have an abortion. Taylor Swift has been attacked for not using her fame as a pop singer to denounce Trump. During the Obama years, Hollywood made an attempt to promote Obamacare by weaving pro-Obamacare storylines into popular television programs. For the left, if entertainment is not leftist propaganda, it’s not entertaining. They’ve become ideological bullies, demanding every facet of life be a front in a partisan culture war. The concept of microaggressions—word choices that risk “triggering” negative feelings in supposedly oppressed minority groups—gives them easy access to every cultural sphere. Anywhere words are spoken, clothing is worn, or thoughts are exchanged becomes fair game.
Leftists ruthlessly smash their way to ideological purity because they are not prepared to handle any ideas outside their partisan bubble. Diversity of thought is anathema to them, and the strategy they’ve chosen is to align anything with which they disagree with the worst qualities of humankind. They constantly argue that conservatives should not have the right to voice their opinions. By labeling everyone who disagrees with them a bigot, racist, sexist, etc., they justify discrimination or violence against them. Trump supporters have been assaulted just for being Trump supporters. This isn’t just activists on the fringe either. A Manhattan Supreme Court justice recently threw out a case against a New York City bar that had thrown out a Trump hat-wearing customer… for being a Trump supporter. In 2016, a Harvard professor argued that pro-life Christians should be treated like Nazis. The left has failed to recognize that their actions over the past two years are the epitome of the hate they claim to oppose.
How is it that liberals can treat conservative as people who don’t deserve civil right protections, while simultaneously claiming to support equality? This sounds a lot like something I read in George Orwell’s Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” As Alexander noted, during the Obama years, “liberals were more convinced than ever that conservatives were their intellectual and even moral inferiors.”
The question I have for the political left is: “do you think this is helping you?” Because it doesn’t seem to be working as you’d hoped. Not only did Trump win the 2016 election but, despite overwhelmingly negative media coverage, his poll numbers aren’t as bad as you might think they’d be. In fact, the alleged anti-Trump “blue wave” in November does not appear to be as much of a sure thing as it did weeks ago.
How is this possible? Well, for starters, despite the negative press coverage, Trump has managed to be a very effective president, accomplishing things that his predecessors failed to achieve. But moreover, according to professor Alexander, this constant flow of hatred has the potential to backfire. “Liberals often don’t realize how provocative or inflammatory they can be. In exercising their power, they regularly not only persuade and attract but also annoy and repel.”
Take, for example, the constant labeling of Trump and his supporters as racists:
But accusers can paint with very wide brushes. Racist is pretty much the most damning label that can be slapped on anyone in America today, which means it should be applied firmly and carefully. Yet some people have cavalierly leveled the charge against huge numbers of Americans — specifically, the more than 60 million people who voted for Mr. Trump.
In their ranks are people who sincerely consider themselves not bigoted, who might be open to reconsidering ways they have done things for years, but who are likely to be put off if they feel smeared before that conversation even takes place.
As someone who has written two books critical of Barack Obama, I’m constantly accused of being racist simply for pointing out unflattering facts about him. They’d rather assume I’m a racist than make any attempt to counter my facts. Their willingness to label me a racist or a Nazi without any consideration for what I have to say only emboldens me to keep fighting for the truth. I doubt they’ll learn their lesson any time soon. Nor will I stop writing books.
Conservatives are tired of being lectured and talked down to. We want to be entertained without being subjected to propaganda. There’s a reason movie ticket sales are fading and late-night talk shows aren’t getting the ratings they used to. We won’t watch movies or programs that demonize us. That there’s so much of it only motivates us in support of our own causes. The huge anti-gun messaging in the wake of the Parkland school shooting resulted in donations to the NRA tripling. Laura Ingraham may have lost some advertisers after David Hogg called for a boycott, but her ratings spiked to the highest ever as a result.
Is there hope that the lecturing will stop and entertaining will resume? Maybe. Jimmy Kimmel is now saying that people are tired of Trump-bashing, and SNL made an attempt to tone down politics in their recent Mother’s Day episode. There’s a lesson for all liberals here: Republicans, conservatives, and Trump voters… we’re all around you.… Just look at the recent success of the Roseanne reboot and FOX acquiring Last Man Standing after fans showed that interest in the show had not died down even a year after it was canceled. Hollywood may be dominated by liberals, and thus, liberal messaging is in the DNA of so much programming, but conservatives flock to shows that aren’t constantly mocking them or promoting leftist values. All we need is civility and respect. Being constantly harangued by people who hate you and think you don’t have a right to speak your mind or even walk down the street without being assaulted is not changing any minds. All it proves is that ideological differences are tearing this country apart. We don’t talk about ideas or seek compromise for the greater good anymore. The left sees anyone who doesn’t agree with them as their enemy. If they can’t acknowledge the equality and humanity of conservatives, then they are going to make Trump’s reelection all the more likely.
Matt Margolis is the author of the new book, The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis