I wanted to avoid ranting about politics in the Torch this year, mostly because I didn’t want to express my views on the end of an era in modern American liberalism to students who may not even know the extent of what’s happening or why.
I say this because in the strictest definition of the word “liberal,” whether you consider yourselves conservative Republicans, as well as those of you who have come to be called liberals of the Democratic party, you’re all liberals in the most philosophical sense.
So, yes, many of you conservatives who decry liberals and their tactics: you are in fact liberals yourselves according to any correctly defined use of the word. You can look the words conservative and liberal up in any dictionary, but I would recommend doing some research on how the words are defined in political philosophy and science.
While American liberals are scrambling and trying to make sense of what’s happened after the last election, what many don’t realize is they inhabit the dead husks of what used to be their parties.
The Republican party has been co-opted by a wave of right-wing populism that wants nothing to do with politics as usual in Washington D.C., but are what’s been described even by the sometimes right-leaning Washington Post as “authoritarian populism.”
The Democratic Party is in disarray among many supporters and former supporters because of the under-handed way the Democratic National Committee, from Debbie Wasserman-Schultz all the way down to the local offices, sabotaged the Sanders campaign in favor of Clinton, and even Clinton herself blaming Obama for her loss more than her alienation of the working class or testimony from James Comey on her “ServerGate” scandal.
Now in red states, Republicans such as Florida Senator Marco Rubio are either refusing to show up to town hall meetings because they don’t want to be screamed at by their constituents, or they show up and take the heat for the policies and laws affecting health care and the canceling of mortgage premium cuts.
But of the ashes of 2016 liberal politics are emerging the alt-right and the more radical leftist movements. Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, ultra-nationalists and other right wing extremists are gaining steam based not only on the victory of Donald Trump here in the United States, but are also drawing on other right wing victories from Brexit—the UK’s exit from the European Union—to the now narrowly projected wins of ultra-nationalist National Front’s Marine Le Pen in France and populist Geert Wilders of the Party of Freedom in the Netherlands.
Adding further tensions and empowering the right are the immigrant and refugee crises that have affected Europe, and the United States to a lesser extent, and the violence that has come out of these unfolding events.
Here in the United States, there have been attacks against Indians who have been mistaken for Muslims (as if that makes the violence any better) by Americans telling them to “get out of my country” before shooting them.
Not to mention the weekly destruction of synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and bomb threats called into Hebrew schools such as the Jewish Community Center on Monday, Feb. 27, in Ann Arbor.
I’m pointing these examples of right wing violence out because Republicans, who are the controlling parties in the federal executive and legislative branches, as well as in many states, have done next to nothing to address these issues. Trump and Pence have called for a stop to such violence, but only once each for the sake of sound bites.
What Trump and Republicans are focused on now is undoing every achievement of the Obama presidency, while ramping up spending beyond that of any previous president.
The radical left has also gained support, mainly from disenfranchised Sanders supporters. Some of these leftists are actively trying to dissuade voters from reforming the Democratic Party because many of those still in office are the ones who helped perpetrate the Sanders-Clinton primary debacle, and they’ve helped to continue policies that hurt the working class here in America and kill people abroad.
The Green Party has stepped up their efforts on the national and local levels to prepare for 2018 elections, and many former Democrats have been welcomed with open arms by the Greens.
Black Lives Matter, put on notice by Trump after his inauguration, remains committed to their principles of restorative justice, collective value, empowering women, and protecting black families, among many others.
Labor organizations such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the “anti-party” leftists associated with the different philosophies of anarchism have gained some fame (or have become notorious, depending on your views). Radicals organized Disrupt J20 (the surprise punching of Richard Spencer was a bonus), and chased Milo Yiannapoulos off from college campuses, much to the horror and dismay of many in the liberal establishment.
Because of these actions from the far left, many liberals have stated their support of free speech in some unconventional ways such as mistakenly attributing this quote to Voltaire by Evelyn Beatrice Hall: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,” while simultaneously announcing death threats to protect the platform of alt-righters and fascists. These extreme attitudes have come from American liberals who claim to support either the Republican or Democratic parties.
I’m not trying to paint a picture of the sky is falling in America, but what I am giving is my observation of where politics in the United States is heading. Authoritarian populists have co-opted the Republican Party and the Democratic Party has disappointed many on the left of the party into abandoning it for other more progressive or radical movements that support their political principles.
My view is this could be the end of liberal politics in the United States for some time.