Dec 19, 2021 • 24M

Houses of the Holy: The New Religion of the Left Threatens the Democrats

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The podcast version of Sasha Stone's Substack essays.
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The Democrats are out of touch and out of time.

There have been so many opportunities for the Democrats to turn things around since the wake-up call in 2016. To understand why Trump not only won but got that close in the first place is to have the kind of self-awareness that leads to genuine reflection and change. But that isn’t how it went down. As Barton Swaim puts it in the WSJ:

Which brings us back to Donald Trump. His nomination in 2016, and even more his election to the presidency, was an anguished outcry against decades of aggressions. It wasn’t wise or sensible, but it was understandable as a frantic attempt to stay the hand of an uncompromising cultural leftism.

The leftward-inclining elites who dominate American institutions didn’t interpret it that way. They classified it, as they had classified the tea-party revolt of 2009–10, as an expression of racism and hatred, thus relieving themselves of any responsibility to take it seriously or to discern its meaning. They employed every conceivable tool in an effort to remove Mr. Trump from office. Intellectuals and commentators called him a fascist; top-drawer authors blamed him for coronavirus deaths; officials of the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked with political operatives and for-hire spies to frame him as a Russian asset; the U.S. media accepted and publicized the hoax wholesale; former military and intelligence officials openly called him a traitor; federal security bureaucracies hatched plots to have him impeached; and the entertainment industry used every opportunity to cast him as a villainous madman and a snarling racist idiot.

They went all the way to Hitler with Trump. They genuinely believed a fascist had taken power and was about to start shooting people randomly on the street, silencing dissent, banning journalism, forbidding freedom of thought, and putting undocumented immigrants (illegal immigrants - meaning, they came here illegally but we can’t say that because it sounds bigoted) in “concentration camps.”

In the end, it would turn out that it was the Left, not the Right, that was exhibiting signs of authoritarianism. Not that you could ever convince them of that.

It doesn’t really matter how often they’ve been warned, they are digging their heels in, holding onto what they used to have rather than loosening their grip and understanding that they can’t micromanage an entire country to follow their newfound religion.

Now, every day there are more headlines aimed at the Democrats to try to solve the problem:

Voters are saying ‘no’ but Biden isn’t listening: Could the message to politicians be any clearer? Any louder?

Democrats’ only hope for 2024: jail Trump

A Pollster’s Warning to Democrats: ‘We Have a Problem’

Democratic Party’s brand is broken

The Democrats Need to Dump Harris Fast

The Democrats Mayor Pete Problem

Democrats lost in Virginia, but their win in New Jersey is more worrisome

Why A ‘Sister Souljah Moment’ Won’t Save Biden

And today’s latest offering from Benjamin Wallace-Wells:

What is the matter with the Democrats? On one level, the answer is simple. Voters with college degrees are increasingly siding with the Party, while those without are moving toward the Republicans, and there are more people in the second category than the first: about two in five voters in the 2020 Presidential election were college graduates. The Party’s prospects in the midterms do not look bright, and everyone involved in Democratic politics is exhorting the Party’s elected officials to do something about it. This has created a slightly comic situation, in which a group of highly credentialled people urgently instruct one another in how to appeal to those who are not.

But it’s worse than that. The small but loud minority that controls the Democrats is concentrated on Twitter, where the Blue Check army keeps all of the journalists in line, dolling out their daily “take” or talking points that actively distorts reality people can plainly see with their own eyes and spits it back out on the headlines of like-minded outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post, where it eventually trickles upwards to CNN and MSNBC. How you respond to these headlines will tell you everything about where you sit in the paradigm.

The problem for Democrats - they’re losing people. Daily. They aren’t bringing people to them. Who would want to exist in such a guilt-ridden, puritanical, judgmental community without humor or free thought?

If you watch any pundit on CNN or MSNBC try to struggle through any news report where they have to give bad news to Democrats you can see their inner panic. They have to offer up a sign that they still believe Trump is an existential threat to Democracy before they can finish a sentence. That, my friends, is a climate of fear. What are they afraid of? Twitter. Believe it or not.

The Best of Times

For a while there, things were really great. A new Camelot. The height was Lin Manuel-Miranda’s glorious Hamilton. It was a celebratory version of America where everyone had a shot at the dream because the founding documents are just that strong.

Hamilton represented the best of the Obama era where he rose to power and proved that yes, Black men in this country could be elected. Twice. In fact, Obama was instrumental in helping to inspire and promote Hamilton. This video was from 2009, when Obama had just been elected.

It should have been a sign that when Hamilton finally did open on Broadway the tickets were so prohibitively expensive no one in the working class could afford to go. It was, just as so much of what the Left does now, aimed at the privileged class.

By 2016, as Obama was leaving, Hamilton came back to the White House to perform again with its cast:

Cut to 2021:

Lin Manuel-Miranda’s In the Heights was deemed problematic because of “colorism.”

They have just removed Thomas Jefferson out of City Hall in New York after 187 years.

It writes its own campaign ad.

Remarkably, shockingly, the Left is morphing into everything Trump said they’d be, up to and including removing the Jefferson statue.

The white liberals of the upper crust still use Obama, or black culture, or “antiracism” or “people of color” to give them a sense of purpose. You see this every day on social media. They “virtue signal” nonstop, along with self-flagellating, to prove they are worthy of their one true god.

As Darvio Morro puts it in Newsweek:

We're living in a golden age of awareness about white supremacy. You can't turn on your TV without hearing the phrase applied to the news, whether it's the explanation for Glenn Youngkin's victory in Virginia or Kyle Rittenhouse's actions in Kenosha. But more often than not, white progressives' newfound obsession with opposing white supremacy isn't helping. It's coming at Black people's expense.

Reverend Jerry McAfee of New Salem Church in Minneapolis has described white supremacy as a situation where white people are defining your reality and then forcing you to live under that definition. And sadly, that's what we're seeing now over and over: White folks on the Left defining a reality for us that doesn't comport with how we as Black people see things, then demanding we identify with it.

The reason is that this cultural-religious movement on the Left is not about race. It’s actually about class. Ideological compliance is still necessary. If you give them that you get to stay. If you do not, you have to go, no matter your skin color.

A New Religion

If the new ideology of the Left was and remains a religion, with a leader like Obama at the head of it, then it makes sense that when Trump won it would have sent the Left into a state of existential and spiritual panic. If they thought Trump was a racist, and everyone who voted for him was a racist, then this country must be racist and we need to ferret out racism from everywhere and everyone and everything. Every white person is potentially guilty of racism just by the color of their skin. We must teach our white children to understand this but we’ll it as “white privilege.” There is no escape from it. If you are white, you are an oppressor destined to succeed. If you are not white, or Asian as we now find out from a recent column on Loudoun County by Matt Taibbi, you are oppressed and destined to fail.

And it’s true that the Me Too movement was a reaction to Trump’s win, since Trump was accused by so many women and still won the presidency. They could not cancel Trump. They couldn’t shut him up. He stands as the most powerful person in the country, maybe the world, who spits in the face of the power elite on the Left, and his supporters not only love him for that, they excuse his faults and would follow him anywhere.

Because many of Trump’s supporters will follow him anywhere, the folks on the Left decided that meant they were in a cult. But cults force ideological compliance and punish dissent. That sounds a lot more like the left to me. There is also this idea that they are the protected people, the chosen people. How else to explain how the media went totally dark on COVID for the months and months when protesters poured into the streets by the hundreds of thousands. They were wearing the sacred cloth masks, that’s true, and their cause was bigger than COVID. Okay, but then when the protests ended, COVID became so serious it has completely wrecked the American economy and is leading to the collapse of the Democratic Party. Surely saving the country and the economy would be important too.

The truth is that somewhere between Trump, who was not cautious enough, and Biden who is too cautious is the right response to COVID. The one thing it never should have become is partisan. The red state/blue state divide is hurting this country. More people died in the red states but their economies are faring much better. Life seems almost normal in states like Florida and Texas, whereas in California, New York, Portland, and Seattle it feels closer to a dystopian nightmare of fear and rising crime and unemployment. What message does that send about Democrats in power?

Moreover, this idea that only they are allowed to protest, as violently as they want, and the media will cover for them, the politicians will encourage them, and the government and major institutions will overhaul all of their power structures to address the claims of systemic racism.

Unfortunately, for the Democratic Party at least, they’re about to find out just how many people they’ve now alienated and how bad it’s going to be in 2022 and 2024. I imagine the most religious among them, the mostly white women for whom “antiracism” is their newfound passion, will likely believe that the racists won.

The Worst of Times

Biden’s numbers didn’t really start to drop until August, after the disastrous exit from Afghanistan, where it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse:

Afghanistan Health Care on the Brink of Collapse [AP]
UN: Afghanistan’s economy is collapsing `before our eyes’ [AP]
More than 60,000 Interpreters, Visa Applicants Remain in Afghanistan [WSJ]
On the front line as Afghan children battle malnutrition and measles [BBC]
An Economic Catastrophe in Afghanistan [NYT]

The Independents bailed. The Blue Checks and the loyal Democrats hung on. Then inflation spiked, gas prices soared, then Biden backtracked on his promise not to mandate vaccines on a Federal level. Then Delta, then homicide rates spiked in cities, then smash and grab robberies, then the sudden and inexplicable lurch leftward by the Democrats such that you had General Milley mewling about “white rage” in Congress, and the Democrats with a handful of Never Trumpers could not stop talking about January 6th.

Bad as it was, it was not the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War. It is ludicrous to any American who watched the riots and the wreckage over the Summer, many minority-owned businesses without insurance burned to the ground, to say that. The Democrats said nothing about the attacks on police officers, nor showed any concern whatsoever for them until January 6th, then acted like they gave a damn.

Then came the disaster in Virginia where Democrats took their first big loss. The press said it was “dog whistles” and “White Supremacy.” Big mistake. It showed all of America yet again just how out of touch they actually are.

No one with a platform could dare venture down the road of what might have really gone wrong in Virginia. If “wokeness” is the religion and racism the ultimate evil no one would touch that topic, even if some of it was driven by parents desperate to get their impressionable children out of the hands of the lunatics on the Left.

The obsession with race and racism has led to purity tests where each person is expected to give their opinion that will show exactly where they stand on the issue. You have to completely support “critical race theory” or say it’s just teaching people about slavery or else you are a racist. This is deemed a “right-wing” issue but plenty of parents from all different backgrounds and skin colors on the Left are also opposed to the teaching of whatever it is that is going on in schools now. It isn’t CRT. It is a method of purging presumed racism from every white person in a way that resembles Scientology or Nxivm more than it does activism.

But it isn’t only that. There is all of a sudden a rise in transgender children that teachers and administrators are demanding parents accept, never question, and just happily go along with. This is a recent change in the Left’s ideology but it leaves no room for debate, for questions, for objections.

Biden’s numbers might climb back. Things might get better for the Democrats. The news coming out of San Francisco, that the Mayor was ready to finally confront the crime that has mostly destroyed the city is a good sign. But make no mistake, if you have shut down debate in a country that still allows for free speech, the dissenting voices are going to get more popular and louder, which explains why Tucker Carlson is the number one cable news host and Ben Shapiro is routinely at the top of the iTunes podcast chart.

Freedom of Speech, Law and Order, Patriotism

Last year, when the cities were exploding and we were heading into the 2020 election, I warned anyone who would listen that the Democrats were ceding three key American anchors to Trump:

  1. Freedom of speech

  2. Law and Order

  3. Patriotism

When I saw Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore it was the first time any politician anywhere in our country, or any prominent person anywhere, said out loud what the majority of Americans were feeling but could not say. Here is what Trump said in August of 2020:

1776 represented the culmination of thousands of years of Western civilization and the triumph of not only spirit, but of wisdom, philosophy, and reason. And yet, as we meet here tonight, there is a growing danger that threatens every blessing our ancestors fought so hard for, struggled, they bled to secure. Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children. Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities. Many of these people have no idea why they’re doing this, but some know what they are doing. They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive, but no, the American people are strong and proud and they will not allow our country and all of its values, history, and culture to be taken from them.

One of their political weapons is cancel culture, driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees. This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and to our values and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America.

This attack on our liberty, our magnificent liberty must be stopped and it will be stopped very quickly. We will expose this dangerous movement, protect our nation’s children from this radical assault, and preserve our beloved American way of life. In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished. It’s not going to happen to us.

Make no mistake. This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution. In so doing they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence, and hunger, and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery, and progress. To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue, symbol, and memory of our national heritage.

Not on my watch.

Whatever you think about Trump, whatever you think about that speech, I can promise you that Americans are going to run into the arms of the Right if they are the only side fighting against whatever you want to call this new religion on the Left.

The future of the Democrats will depend on just how willing they are to confront this new religion that they are now foisting on America. I don’t see any signs that they are ready to do that. I see plenty of signs that Americans are getting more and more exhausted by them.

Maybe if they can stop being so afraid of COVID they can try to bring America back - but it’s hard to imagine they ever will. Inflation is not going away. The madness of “woke” is not going away. I don’t see a path forward for the Democrats and I haven’t for at least a year.

They’re losing young people. They’re losing Hispanic voters. They’re losing the suburbs. Right now, there isn’t any good reason to side with the Democrats. The only thing they are selling to Americans is fear - fear of voting rights, fear of January 6th, fear of COVID.

It plays on Twitter. In the rest of the country, not so much.

There are so many thousands of people out there that the Democrats, the Never Trumpers and the Left overall are just deciding don’t matter. That is not how you win elections. That’s how you lose them.

Let’s Go Brandon

A healthy movement, a healthy country can laugh at itself. But now, comedy can only really live on the Right, or at least not on the Left because they will not allow it in the mainstream. They are controlling everything they can and at the top of that list has to be humor.

Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Jimmy Kimmel have become like preachers. Their comedy sounds like what you might hear on skit night at the Scientology headquarters. It’s not humor. If any political movement was more in need of lampooning it has to be the sanctimonious, holier than thou, zealots on the Left.

The Right did not use to be funny because they too had to stick to the party line, leaving all the great comedy to come from the left. Those days are gone.

Let’s Go Brandon is funny because it makes fun of a gaslighting media that desperately needs to be made fun of. It’s funny because it symbolizes how the press has been covering Joe Biden since 2020. The reaction to it makes it even more funny because it seems to really annoy the Left that it not only exists but keeps going viral.

It feels good to laugh, though, doesn’t it? We need laughter. Great humor is about dissent, which is about saying what can’t be said. Without dissent, without humor, without the truth, there is no saving the Left.