• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Progressives Turned Regressive

December 2018

Putatively, the Democratic Party is a party of progress—the Republican Party, of inertness. The former is one of ambition—the latter, of tradition. The Democratic Party’s claim, rather more often passionately than convincingly made, is that it’s the more audacious of the two. We grant it—this, the oldest-surviving American political party we’ve seen—its claim. In its ethos, it’s so defined and we won’t attempt ascribing to it a more applicable term.

But by audacious I don’t mean to elicit negative thoughts. I don’t mean to say that it’s the more impudent of the two. One mustn’t forget that the Party wasn’t always so overtly dismissive of our institutions and our past as it currently seems to be. Rather, I mean to use the word in as complimentary a manner as one possibly can. Admittedly, a simple writer is challenged to do so in these most unamicable of times, but it can doubtless be said that the Democratic Party of late has been the more venturous of the two, and for that reason, the more controversial and compelling. It’s been the more imaginative and ultimately the more enlivening when it boils down to our binary, slightly boring and shopworn choice of left or right.

Yet it seems to be the case that we’ve stepped unwittingly into a strange new political world. As if alighting upon a foreign shore, the earth upon which we stand feels like an unnatural terra incognita, a political territory wholly unknown. For that very reason, it’s in need of a name. We’ll conceive of one here. We’ll call it the land of the progressive’s paradox.

The Democrats, with breathless indefatigability, are busy cultivating this island of their own founding. Yet in all of their zealous haste, they’re accelerating into a direction that is frighteningly un-American. It’s a course completely at odds with the paths that normal, hard-working Americans of whom they deign to call themselves representatives wish to pursue. So quickly and uncontrollably are these Democrats working and moving that their wheels are actually beginning to spin in reverse. Now, that which once garnered approbation for being daringly progressive and bold has turned into what can only be described as barbarous, shameless, and most regressive in every way.

The general movement toward this regression manifests itself in three glaring ways: the first is the Democratic Party’s unbridled push toward socialism. The second is its reliance on and weaponization of identity politics. The third is its position on abortion. But exploring the three, we find a Party committed rather to atavistic than American ideals.

First, we turn toward socialism. Nurtured in the salons of France and hardened in the mind of Marx, socialism is an essentially regressive idea. Nonetheless, to the enduring frustration of more continent minds, it has succeeded in tickling the leftist intelligentsia for well over a hundred years. Socialism, crudely understood, seeks to turn a free, capitalistic, and meritocratic society into one of enervating parity and homogeneity. It advocates equivalence and invites wretchedness. It’s an ideology, debunked by any earnest economist worth her salt, which seeks to clip at the outset the wings of our greatest achievers so that all can be made to feel as if they too can fly. The result is that we all become dodos—flightless and extinct birds of ridicule. Socialism ensures grander heights will never be reached—that societies will inevitably spoil and economies fail.

The second example of the regression of the left is its insistence on and promulgation of identity politics. All purveyors of the idea that America is bathed in unmitigated, systemic racism and widespread, ineradicable oppression will be found cozying up to this line of thought. We’re seeing lately a reversion to tribal politics, a phenomenon in whose ancient practice the color of one’s skin is of the utmost import. The epidermis—that accidental inheritance of one’s proximity to the sun—is the determinant of one’s value. The darker, the more historically oppressed and thus the more presently estimable; the lighter, the more loathsome for those foregoing reasons now inverted. And in this intersectional crossroads, it’s not just color that counts: religion, age, sexual orientation, economic circumstance, gender characterization, and the many other sub-categories yet unnamed—the more eclectic these aforementioned things, the higher your worth ascends. Whiteness—nay, whiteness and maleness, so far as this hierarchy of oppression is concerned, become synonyms for odious and unworthy of our time. The noble embrace of racial and sexual tolerance for all seems now to have excluded straight white males. Perhaps this is what Karl Popper meant when he propounded his idea of the paradoxical nature of tolerance; that society which thinks itself most tolerant inevitably becomes seized by the intolerant—whom the dedicatedly tolerant were unwilling to rebuke.

Finally, the third example of the “progressive” left’s transition into the “regressive” left is its recently clarified position on abortion. In holding this position, the left embraces an atavistic practice from which we—a reportedly civilized people—were thought to have long since emerged. Officially in New York and possibly in Virginia, the newest refinement of the law regarding feminine sexual health maintains that a pregnant woman may, up until the very moment of her child’s emergence through the vaginal canal, revoke from the child its life. No longer are abortions to be carried out under the tenuous rubric of “safe, legal, and rare” (if both safe and legal, why need they be rare?). Omitted from this Clinton-era list of three will be the “rarity” that was supposed to carry all the weight. Now, abortions are not only to be safe and legal, but positively encouraged. And if the decision (that of whether or not one should accept the abortifacient into the womb) proves too vexing in those desperate last moments before the child’s birth, the chance to kill child will linger. Ralph Northam, Virginia’s embattled Democratic governor, made this second-chance at slaughter explicit when he said that an undesired baby, burdensomely delivered with a pulse, will be eligible for death at the mother’s and doctor’s discretion.

If indeed, as we’re told, this Democratic Party agenda is progressive (and by inference, inherently good), I’m terrified to know how just much further it’ll go. Is the aim outright communism—the apotheosis of the Marxist-Socialist’s dream? Is the idea to have racial blocs engaging in internecine war? Is the next step in early childhood development the practice of exposure? Are we to embrace, as did those remarkably pious pagans, the act of binding a child’s feet and leaving him in the elements to die? Progress, so understood, would answer to all three, yes.

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