Discover more from Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
What Happened to You?
How a Blue Check Democrat Went Rogue
“What happened to you,” a well-known Oscar blogger once tweeted to me as we headed into the 2020 election. He meant, why are you dissenting when we need all hands on deck to defeat Trump? Or he meant, why are you saying things only people on the other side of the mountain say? Or he meant, why are you suddenly a “suppressive person”? Meaning, someone who pushes back or rebels or dissents to the side of his choosing.
He didn’t mean any of those things. He meant why was I no longer full on board with Team Democrat on Twitter. But when someone says that to you it isn’t usually because they are actually worried about you. It means they are horrified by you, disgusted, and want to see you punished.
Some people have asked sincerely “what happened” to you. And to those people, I feel obligated to give an answer.
The short answer is this: I reached a point where I could no longer stay silent about what I was seeing the “Left” become throughout 2020. I don’t know if it was always this way, but the “Left” I remember supported free speech, dissent, anti-establishment rebellion, artistic expression, giving people the benefit of the doubt - believing that “everyone has a right to their opinion.” Those were the values of the Left I knew.
But those values have changed. Dramatically and tragically. I could not help but call out the hypocrisy I could suddenly see. Once you see it you can’t unsee it.
The Left has become puritanical, punitive, fully on board with Big Tech authoritarianism and dehumanization. They spread hysteria daily in order to keep their flock well-behaved and engaged. They eat hypocrisy for breakfast and sanctimony for dinner. They not only believe they are better people than half the country, but they are also fine with policing, punishing, and dehumanizing those who do not agree with them. That is what the Left has become and it is “what happened” to me.
This isn’t everyone on the left, of course. But it is what they have come to stand for in the wake of Donald Trump’s rise in 2016. When I think about what Trump did to the left, I think about what Bill Clinton did to the right in 1992. Once the Right wrestled power from JFK, a leader who transformed America and birthed a cultural revolution in 1960s and 1970s, they weren’t going to let it go easily. Reagan was their leader who had taken JFK’s America and reimagined it as the “shining city on the hill.”
Reagan’s rise led to a cultural as well as a political revolution. Jimmy Carter felt like the Left’s last gasp before collapsing completely. By then, the hippies had grown tired of being broke, the cults so many sought in the 70s fell apart, the children of the “me” generation felt neglected and not properly parented. In came the conservatives to reorder the book shelves, give back pride to the military, make patriotism great again. You might wonder why, in 1985, Top Gun was the top of the box office. Well, that’s why. Capitalism, greed is good, traditional family values - all of that was part of Reagan’s America.
But their grip was so strong that when Bill Clinton rose to power and won in 1992, that threatened that grip. The way they attacked the Clintons for eight straight years, losing their mind over Hillary Clinton especially is where, I believe, the Left is now. Trump disrupted their grip on culture, not just politics. He threatened the Left by breaking their established rules. Like Clinton, who was immoral by the standards of the old school Right, Trump was a Clinton-like figure to the new school Left.
And they could not stand it. The biggest difference is that there was no Twitter or Facebook in 1992. If there had been, and the Conservatives controlled those sites, and they kicked off someone who was threatening them, the way the Left has with Trump, then my friends might start to understand why people like me are protesting so loudly at what the Left has become.
A Dystopian Nightmare
There was a cultural revolution in 2020 that suddenly decided everything we do artistically, in science, in education had to bend over backward so as not to offend any one person, or make any young adult feel “unsafe.” We are raising a generation that believes it can only survive if we change the language so as not to offend them. This is not only destructive it is borderline psychotic.
We can’t live in a country where our words and thoughts are policed. We can’t live in a country ruled by massive tech oligarchs who get to decide who has speech, who doesn’t, who can work, who can’t, what ideology people must obey. My (former) side of the aisle is 100% down with this. They are suddenly and horrifyingly backing a system of behavior monitoring - in public schools, even in the military. You have no choice but to comply or you too will be punished.
What happened to me? As Andrew Sullivan would say, What happened to YOU?
The solution: There isn’t one. The Left, as it is now, will have to collapse and rebuilt. Barack Obama, like JFK, like Reagan birthed a cultural and political revolution. But it is exhaling its last gasp in the Biden presidency. Vice President Kamala Harris will lose any election she runs in, even up against Trump and Biden cannot run for a second term. That means we’ll likely see a scenario that played out when Carter’s own ratings started to fall. None other than Ted Kennedy, trying to wrestle back the JFK echo, ran against him, thus ensuring division and handing the election, and the country, to Reagan.
The Democrats have painted themselves into a corner by following the rules they themselves laid out: it has to be a “woman of color” as the Veep. Harris did terribly in the primary and is not well liked overall. Biden is 78 and the clock is ticking on his mental state. This is the reality. Will I be called a racist for stating the obvious? Yes, because that is the house the Left built. We are in the death throes of a once powerful movement. When it gets to the “witch hunt” phase, it’s all over but the shouting. It might take a few years for it to come crumbling down but if you pay attention right now you can see it happening in real time.
But some people want to know what steps led me to where I am now. I will do my best, in my long-winded fashion, to explain that.
How it Started
I didn’t really “get political” until around 2015 after reading several books about the future and climate change. Typically, Democrats don’t hold onto third terms. That’s why I committed so hard to do whatever I could to make sure Hillary Clinton was elected anyway. I knew three branches handed to the GOP would be devastating to the fight against climate change.
I grew a platform on Medium and became one of the notorious “Hillbot” blue checks on Twitter. I fought viciously with Bernie bros and Trump supporters. I joined whatever the fight was for the day. Who was the target? Let’s destroy them using whatever tools we had at our disposal. I didn’t go so far as to dox them or contact their employers or families (others did) but I wrote horrible, cruel tweets to people I didn’t think even think were human, like Matt Gaetz and Trey Gowdy. My hatred was deep. I felt justified in it. I was followed by Rick Wilson, Charlie Sykes, Joe Walsh on the right, Don Winslow, Frank Rich, Oprah, and others on the left.
I felt a sense of belonging on my anti-Bernie and pro-Hillary Facebook groups. I was part of something important, a MOVEMENT, that connected millions of us in a singular ideology. I’d felt like my voice mattered like I was making something really happen each and every day on Twitter. We were building a kind of religion only we didn’t know it.
After Trump won I, like so many others, did not accept the results. I believed the Russians had hacked the voting machines. I believed that Facebook had used psychographic profiling to target voters in specific areas (this may be true). I was angry and depressed. I drank a bottle of wine almost every day and slept on the couch watching Keeping up with the Kardashians because everything else was too triggering. My daughter left for college that same year. I joined my army trying to take down Trump every single day. I marched in the Women’s march, protested the “Muslim ban” and was among those fighting against the confirmation of Bret Kavanaugh.
We felt terrorized every day by Trump who seemed to delight in taunting both the media and the Left. Our utopia had been kicked over like a sandcastle and we were not taking it well. Our hatred for Trump and his supporters intensified, and our fear was taking us to strange places.
Because we were all connected, millions of us, it was easy for hysteria to pass from one person to the next person, like a gathering storm, until turning into full-blown panic. When the Harvey Weinstein revelations dropped we could not manage the terror of how quickly the trauma over sexual assault and harassment was spreading through the community, intensifying as it went along so that simple gestures like touching someone’s arm suddenly seemed like assault. No one could stop it
What snapped me out of it was when Al Franken became a target. That was the first sign to me that something was very very off on the left. I knew the accusations against Franken were false. I knew there had been no due process, even before Jane Mayer took the whole thing apart.
Did the Mayer piece matter? Nope. Once again the narrative machine went into high gear and struggle sessions disguised as journalism cropped up. There was no way they were going to admit that Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris had acted prematurely in forcing Franken out. He might have been a Democrat but he was expendable. The others weren’t.
“What Happened to You?”
For me, and for a lot of people, it was the Tom Cotton incident at the Times that changed everything. One big red pill. It was like putting on the sunglasses in They Live.
This was the moment I realized that we were being told the narrative the left wanted rather than the truth. Not only was that what we were being told, Twitter was operating like the Thought Mafia. They would intimidate journalists, bully them, humiliate them to force them to either get on board or lose their job.
It went something like this: After the death of George Floyd cities exploded in rage and violence. They were intentionally so. The protesters were angry and they wanted to send a message to our country and our government. As buildings were smashed and burned, as the violence escalated and curfews were put in place and helicopters were swirling overhead, and an already freaked out public were cowering in their homes feeling like a war had just started — because it had — a poll was released that said Americans, by a healthy majority, wanted the military to take charge if the police departments couldn’t. The New York Times, back when it tried to offer balanced coverage, invited Senator Tom Cotton to write an op-ed.
Within minutes, the blue check army on Twitter went into action to attack the people at the Times who had greenlit the piece. Some of them pretended it was just “sloppy editing” or the guy should have been fired or the piece was too dangerous to print. But I was sitting there with my jaw hanging open. I could not believe what I was seeing. I could believe what I had been a part of. I could not believe THIS was what had become of journalism. And the Left.
Their op-ed section is not here to pander or soothe or paint the “right” picture of reality. It is to offer alternative points of view. To date, the Times does not have a single writer from the Trump POV working for them.
The Times kept the piece up but affixed a truly embarrassing pandering intro:
Finally, we failed to offer appropriate additional context — either in the text or the presentation — that could have helped readers place Senator Cotton’s views within a larger framework of debate.
This was the point where two things happened at once.
The first was that there was a coordinated effort to make sure the news media followed a specific narrative that would help the Democrats and hurt Trump. And the second, the subsequent resignations by James Bennett and Bari Weiss that would lead to many more news editors losing their jobs began, one firing after another followed, for months. It’s still going on, with very little pushback. If one person feels unsafe if one person is offended the accused must be removed. Even the accusation of racism is enough to destroy a career.
Why, because the accusation of racism, like communism, like witchcraft, can’t be proven. It exists in the minds and hearts of people. To ferret it out you have to police thought, interpret words and actions as “proof.” Until it has happened to you, until you have been accused of this, you will still believe (if you are on the left) that these accusations are valid and these actions were right.
The protests had to help the Democrats, which means the narrative had to be controlled and redirected away from the public fearing the protesters to the public fearing the police, and by extension, Trump. If they were seen as violent, Trump would go full “law and order” the way Richard Nixon had in 1972 and that would help him. As the violence wore on, some of the Never Trumpers were pointing this out, that it was likely to help Trump. Even Sam Harris thought so, writing:
And it’s important to keep in mind that, with the presidential election coming in November, the stakes are really high. As most of you know, I consider four more years of Trump to be an existential threat to our democracy. And I believe that the last two weeks have been very good for him, politically, even when everything else seemed to go very badly for him. I know the polls don’t say this. A large majority of people disapprove of his handling this crisis so far. But I think we all know now to take polls with a grain of salt. There is the very real problem of preference falsification—especially in an environment of intense social pressure. People will often say what they think is socially acceptable, and then think, or say, or do something very different in private—like when they’re alone in a voting booth.
That is why the narrative HAD to shift. That is why the news stopped reporting on the nightly riots — at least on the left. Tucker Carlson’s profile would start to skyrocket because he WAS talking about them and the left was not. The same went for Ben Shapiro. If you want to know why Tucker Carlson has the highest-rated cable news show, watch this video. No one else in media talks as bluntly as this, and his popularity is a sign that things really are starting to shift. To the left, he is another Hitler. But 2020 changed things. Because the media on the Left were essentially gaslighting the public over what they could see with their own eyes, their word was suddenly suspect. This video has 5 million views:
CNN and MSNBC pivoted to blaming the police for racism. Partly because they were being told to do that from on high, partly because they are activists themselves and partly to save their social media cred. Twitter had become a dehumanizer. Any journalist that broke with the narrative would be severely punished, humiliated by a thousand tweets. That might not seem like a big deal but if you’ve ever been swarmed on Twitter you know what that feels like. They still do it today.
CNN and MSNBC reported on “systemic racism” as suddenly the moral panic of the moment, and the one thing a community led by Barack Obama - inspired by him, transformed by him — can’t abide is being thought of as racist. It would turn out that the division in this country would have to be about race because all of the money is now on the left. It can’t be about poverty or class anymore because that is Trump country. But race? Anyone can be a victim of racism, even the most powerful people culturally and politically. Being not racist became, in 2020, like being a good Christian in 1692. It was and remains everything.
Since Trump was labeled the Racist in Chief by the left, this campaign against the racist cops and “systemic racism” overall would help stoke fear of Trump rather than those rioting in the cities. There were peaceful protests too, without a doubt, but that wasn’t the whole story. The mainstream press only told one version of it because they could not risk the truth of helping Trump. So many Americans simply suffered in silence, knowing they too could not risk speaking the truth out loud - that truth was that they were scared when the riots broke out. They didn’t know where they were going. They’d been huddled in their homes already, being told they had to wear masks and goggles and gloves and stand six feet apart but suddenly there were hundreds, thousands in the streets.
The left then had to pivot to “Yes, COVID but these protests matter more. Racism is a bigger health threat than COVID.” Sam Harris again from a year ago:
Trust in institutions has totally broken down. We’ve been under a very precarious quarantine for more than 3 months, which almost the entire medical profession has insisted is necessary. Doctors and public health officials have castigated people on the political Right for protesting this lockdown. People have been unable to be with their loved ones in their last hours of life. They’ve been unable to hold funerals for them. But now we have doctors and public officials by the thousands, signing open letters, making public statements, saying it’s fine to stand shoulder to shoulder with others in the largest protests our nation has ever seen. The degree to which this has undermined confidence in public health messaging is hard to exaggerate. Whatever your politics, this has been just a mortifying piece of hypocrisy. Especially so, because the pandemic has been hitting the African American community hardest of all. How many people will die because of these protests? It’s a totally rational question to ask, but the question itself is taboo now.
So, it seems to me that almost everything appears upside down at the moment.
Turns out, Sam Harris - who hated Trump with a passion - didn’t have to worry. The media had this. They would get away with shifting the narrative. The left would get away with the hypocrisy on COVID, public gatherings and still win the election. How? They were in control of the narrative. They got to say what was good and what was bad. They got to shame the Trump supporters because they weren’t wearing masks but not the protesters whom, they thought, were.
First, many of them weren’t wearing masks. Second, masks are not 100% effective in preventing the spread. But again, it didn’t matter because public officials were not even allowed to ask COVID patients if they’d attended protests. It didn’t matter because no one was going to say anything because no one wanted to be called a racist. That was the moment the Left really did abandon telling the truth or demanding the truth. If it meant risking being labeled something bad they would shut up.
But 2020 did happen. You know because you lived through it. And just because the media will not report what happened - no Frontline on PBS, not NPR, not the New York Times, you know what happened because you saw it with your own eyes.
Remember, after the Salem Witch Trials they wanted so badly to cover it all up, to pretend it never happened. There was one guy, a Quaker, who went to prison to make sure people never forgot what happened that fateful year.
We should not forget the stories people were too afraid to tell. Like this one:
And this one:
Had the media focused on the protests the way Fox News and Tucker Carlson were, there is very little doubt that would have helped Trump. I believe this was deliberate media manipulation by executives who were cozy with Democrats and wanted Trump out.
For many people, it was serving their need to see Trump taken out of power so they weren’t going to object to any of it. Even now, the “good soldiers” on Twitter are 100% on board with every act of censorship by Big Tech, every banning of users on Twitter, every firing at any publication.
When I started to push back, even a little bit, I noticed discomfort among my social media friends, my real friends, and my family. When I tried to point out what WAS ACTUALLY true that was met with an extreme, almost traumatic reaction. The truth was now something to be avoided at all costs because it did not help the left win the election.
Now that the election is over, the truth is still potentially traumatizing if it helps Trump, even though he is out of office. Like the lab leak theory. Like Afghanistan. Whatever it is - spin, baby, spin. The good soldiers have your back.
Everywhere you look there is nothing but hypocrisy. We care about white privilege but only if the black people we’re “saving” are on our side. Minority-owned businesses destroyed during the riots that had no insurance to rebuild? What riots? They never happened. Larry Elder and Candice Owens? Oh, they don’t count. We care about sexual harassment unless it’s Andrew Cuomo. We care about “Concentration camps” unless we’re doing it. We are okay with questioning the results of an election as long as we’re doing it.
I can’t abide hypocrisy, as it turns out. Especially not from a side that eats sanctimony for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - that mocks and ridicules those on the other side of the aisle for being not as well educated. When did my side become such snobs? When did they think that was an okay thing to do? When did it become okay to dehumanize a whole group of people? I don’t remember 1992 that well except that I was a fan of Bill Clinton. But what I am seeing now by the Left towards half of this country is terrifying to me. Why, because there is not even such a thing as truth anymore. The truth is whatever those who control media, literature, social media, science, education say it is. And that, my friends, is Orwellian territory.
I was getting more and more disturbed by the distortion of what was actually happening by the media, by social media, by many people I knew because they all believed it was expendable when it came to Trump. Trump’s side had to be the violent side. The problem was, they weren’t. Not until January 6th. That one day, that one incident finally gave the left what was needed to cast the Trump supporters as violent extremists, white supremacists, and a domestic terrorist threat.
But the problem for me is that I didn’t see any of this in the lead-up to the election. If anything, they mocked the Left for being violent. Until January 6th the idea was that streets would be locked down, windows boarded up, not out of fear of Biden winning, but out of fear of Trump winning. That is how it had gone from the minute he took power.
Because of the way the stream of information was tightly controlled after the death of George Floyd, you would never see a video like that one coming from the left, not one that would explain what was happening without the narrative imposed upon on it. The left had been often violently protesting since Trump was elected yet they were never portrayed as the violent side by the media.
To me, having spent so much time in Trump World this was very out of character for Trump supporters. They are patriots who love this country and are opposed to destroying its buildings. We know we can’t trust reporters to get that story. You only saw images on repeat of the violence but not the so-called “insurrectionists” wandering around the Senate chamber taking photo ops and protecting the muffins from being eaten.
You cannot understand why people support Trump unless you humanize them. There is no situation where dehumanization is the right course for humans. None. No matter how justified you feel in that, I can promise you that if you did what I did, if you watched every single Trump rally heading into the election, if you spent time getting to know the people who supported him, you would be able to see things more clearly. As it is, though, anyone who is watching MSNBC or CNN will be part of the kind of groupthink that leads to dehumanization.
Don’t forget, in every time in history where dehumanization occurred it turned out to be immoral at best, and crimes against humanity at worse. Just because you think Trump supporters deserve it doesn’t mean that they actually do. The Germans were convinced Jews were “bad” and oppressive and parasites. Whites in the South believed newly freed slaves were rapists, thieves and monsters. Puritans in Salem believed witches bit their private parts in the middle of the night and danced naked with Satan. Fear does strange things to people. But when one side huddles and decides millions that they share the country with are “white supremacists”? Well, that is the road we’re headed down.
And no, Twitter, I am not comparing Trump supporters to Jews or anything of the kind. I am saying that it was the dehumanization I saw at the left of my side that ultimately alienated me from that side. I will not be a part of it.
I hope that this helps explain where I am coming from. To me, seeing my side in a different light changed how I viewed it. Once I saw that we were manipulating the truth, that is what led to the kind of disillusionment I feel now. It’s a little like Kathy Bates in Primary Colors.
I care about the side that cares about art, makes great movies, writes great books, leads the charge on actual science, not science that panders to an overly sensitive community. Freedom of thought, freedom of expression - these are the things that define me and define the world I want to fight for.