Karl explores the hypocrisy and elitism that is undermining the political success of the modern left.
The sanctimonious nature displayed by some on the modern left is one of the ugliest characteristics in politics, and potentially a major reason as to why the left hasn’t been more successful in recent years.
While the left often complains about the arrogance and dismissiveness of right-wing commentators like Ben Shapiro, many fail to recognise this in somewhat similar characters on the other side of the political spectrum.
Not only is this detrimental to the success of the left, it also goes against the fundamental morals of tolerance.
Take talk show hosts like Stephen Colbert and James O’Brien; they are revered by many on the left for their comedic takedowns of Donald Trump or Boris Johnson.
Perhaps the so called “snowflake generation” – the stereotype of progressive millennials – doesn’t mind this arrogant self-righteousness when it comes from someone who agrees with them. Perhaps it is ok to disregard Trump as “a whiny little bitch” (Bill Maher), a comment which only works to enrage already-isolated Trump fans.
While the left will criticize Steven Crowder for claiming to be a comedian while really being an agent of conservative ideology, the liberal media is no different. The Daily Show and Last Week Tonight are both hosted by ‘comedians’ who conceal ideological rhetoric within seemingly harmless jokes.
John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight, utilises a format where – while very entertaining – many jokes do nothing more than mock conservatives. While his criticisms are very often justified, the negative impact is clear. The rise of labels like ‘liberal media’ are hardly surprising when Oliver describes the Trump-Russia controversy as “Stupid Watergate” – like the original but “everyone involved is stupid and bad at everything”. Isolating the already-isolated Rust Belt Trump voter hardly seems to be good political strategy.
When did the left stop being the party of the people, and being the party of the academic elite – the politically ‘enlightened’?
We saw the materialisation of this twice in 2016. Trump won the Midwest states and much of the blue-collar vote. The working class voted for Trump in the hope that he could provide them with an income. Hillary Clinton didn’t focus enough on the Midwest, as she admits in her 2017 book – What Happened.
The people rebelled against the establishment similarly in the UK. Deindustrialisation and austerity had left the working class apathetic and ready to scapegoat Brussels and immigration. Perhaps Cameron, like Clinton, was too arrogant in not considering the power of the disaffected majority. These representatives of the establishment were both beaten by ‘the man of the people’ – the privately educated Nigel Farage and billionaire businessman Donald Trump.
Populism is almost used as a dirty word by the centre, when really populism should be inherent in a successful democracy.
And still the moderate left refuses to embrace the populist campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, instead choosing to disregard the majority from the ivory tower of degree level education.
It seems fair to say the left has been known as the side of tolerance, or at least a strong advocate of tolerance and multiculturalism.
Yet many(or perhaps the outspoken few who give the impression of the many) now struggle to tolerate people of a different ideology. And they struggle to tolerate them to such an extent that they resort to mockery and ridicule. While the right is attacked for the ‘post-truth’ nature of much of its discourse, Zizek suggests that the “liberal left is engaged in […] its own version of so called post-factual approach”.
The new age leftist media is failing to engage with conservative and libertarian ideas, instead choosing to laugh at them – and in turn the people who support those ideas.
By Karl Baddeley