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It May Actually Be Progressive Activists Who Need Reprogramming, Not Trump Supporters

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Since the January 6th riot at the Capitol, the talking heads in the media, political elites, and other progressive activists have been opining on the need to deprogram Trump supporters as they attempt to paint us all as craven conspiracy theorists with the potential for violence. You see this in their obsession with Representative Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.), a freshman member with no real political power. Yet, they take her past comments and extrapolate her insane assertions to half the population. Yes, dear readers, if you liked the foreign policy or domestic policy implemented by the Trump administration better than what Joe Biden offered,  you are now seen as a member of a cult.

It is as if the radical left and the rest of the intelligentsia are determined to play the role of a parent running in to save you from yourself and the charismatic, diabolical leader you who has enthralled you. Really, you just think energy independence is preferable to the Green New Deal. Don’t you dare criticize the 1619 Project or critical race theory, bigot. Perhaps you just believed in Martin Luther King’s vision of a colorblind society and are bewildered that segregation by race seems to be coming back in an inverted form. Still, our progressive betters are determined to save you from yourself.

Surveys show that strong liberals feel the most empowered to say what they believe. A Cato Institute survey this summer noted:

Strong liberals stand out, however, as the only political group who feel they can express themselves. Nearly 6 in 10 (58%) of staunch liberals feel they can say what they believe. However, centrist liberals feel differently. A slim majority (52%) of liberals feel they have to self‐​censor, as do 64% of moderates, and 77% of conservatives. This demonstrates that political expression is an issue that divides the Democratic coalition between centrist Democrats and their left flank.

So, the views of the political spectrum’s left flank, called progressive activists in other surveys, dominate the discussion. This trend has accelerated since the election and is now on steroids. It is so dominant that one of President Biden’s first executive orders was to allow biological men and boys to access women’s spaces, sports, and opportunities. His action in no way represents a majoritarian view and not even a consensus view on the left. It is a radical, contentious policy, and if you object, even from the left, you are a transphobe.

What if I told you, these dedicated progressive activists make up 8% of the population? The Hidden Tribes survey, in 2018, conducted by the More in Common project, demonstrated they are the smallest coalition in the political spectrum. In describing them, the authors gave some insight into why it seems they have captured all of our important institutions (emphasis mine):

Progressive Activists have strong ideological views, high levels of engagement with political issues, and the highest levels of education and socioeconomic status. Their own circumstances are secure. They feel safer than any group, which perhaps frees them to devote more attention to larger issues of social justice in their society. They have an outsized role in public debates, even though they comprise a small portion of the total population, about one in 12 Americans. They are highly sensitive to issues of fairness and equity in society, particularly regarding race, gender, and other minority group identities. Their emphasis on unjust power structures leads them to be very pessimistic about fairness in America. They are uncomfortable with nationalism and ambivalent about America’s role in the world.

Well educated and financially secure, progressive activists feel entitled to direct our society. They are also likely to hold positions of power in government, the media, and academia, which explains the volume of their megaphone. Progressive activists are also 11 percent more likely (80%) than the other six groups to be white (69%). This fact is the height of irony in our current political climate.

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More in Common continued its work and released a report called “American Fabric: Identity and Belonging” in December 2020. It analyzed how the various political factions and demographic groups view being American, our history, and our place in the world. It clearly demonstrates progressive activists are an outlier on nearly every dimension, and their views do not match the groups they claim to represent.

Could this be some faulty programming or indoctrination? Here are a few examples:

  • 34% of progressive activists feel pride in being American. Black, Hispanic, and female respondents scored 70%, 76%, and 73%, respectively.
  • 46% of them would choose to live in America rather than anywhere in the world. The U.S. average is 79%, and no minority group scores less than 74%.
  • When asked if America is a better nation overall, similar to other nations or a worse nation overall than other countries, 11% of progressive activists answered better overall. The lowest score in a minority group was 34%.
  • 100% of Progressive Activists believe racism is a significant present-day problem. Only 89% of black Americans believe this.
  • On almost every dimension of belonging, Asian Americans score the lowest among minority groups. Yet Progressive Activists rarely acknowledge them because of their overall financial and academic success. In college admissions, these are the students actually discriminated against at many schools.

The report’s overall impression is there is no appetite for the type of fundamental change to America that progressive activists call for. However, we are united in one area:

More than 9 in 10 Americans believe that America is “very divided politically” and are “worried for the future of America”. This strong consensus sweeps across gender, racial, regional, generational, partisan, and educational groups. With that level of alignment, taking steps to reduce our divisions can surely be viewed as a national priority. National leaders and organizations motivated to reducing these divisions can harness several meaningful dynamics and embrace a critical challenge.

To make any meaningful progress on healing our divisions, more people need to feel free to express themselves, not less. Substantive debates about ideas need to occur without hurling of an -ist, -ism, or -phobe every time someone has a different perspective. This method of shutting down debate is used almost exclusively by progressive activists and our media and political elites. Following the election and the Capitol riots, the acceleration in this behavior and moves to shut down all dissenting views no matter how mainstream they are is more than unsettling.

This behavior is not what the vast majority of Americans who are self-censoring out of fear want or think is healthy. So, perhaps it is our well-educated and secure progressive activists who need to be deprogrammed. A vast, increasingly silent, majority see the current situation in America differently.

The GameStop stock controversy could be just the beginning of that majority attempting to shock the elite class into acknowledging another perspective. While not violent, the pushback did cause significant financial damage, even for some of those who were trying to raise the stock price. That is a level of nihilism, people willing to harm themselves to make a point that no one should want to encourage.

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