The decline of American liberalism

The US election every four years presents the American people with two doors that they must choose between. Traditionally, one door is characterised by progressive leanings and some degree of redistribution of income while the other door is defined by its conservative nature and its faith in the free market. With every election, these doors change an iota. There are other doors in the form of third party candidates, but there have never been any particularly appealing options, and that rings true especially for this year’s crop of poor alternative candidates featuring Gary ‘what is Aleppo’ Johnson and Jill Stein, whose running mate contributed to an essay on Holocaust denial. The focus shifts back, then, to the original two doors.

When Donald Trump won the Republican candidacy earlier this year, the colour of the GOP’s door changed drastically from the usual conservative crimson to a rebellious, rule-breaking scarlet, the perfect colour for a baseball cap to adorn the heads of millions of Americans bearing the motto now engrained in the minds of anybody watching the election: ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN’. The Democrats’ door, however, didn’t change a bit. There was no revolutionary change in policy, no departure from the status quo. Clinton’s door was one that the American people had seen many times before. Why?

Because, explained the Democrats, this was the only door to choose. This safe, comforting blue door meant stability, it meant continuing a legacy that was going oh-so-well. It was, as people all around the world were told every day by the media, the rational thing to do. Clinton received over seventy major newspaper endorsements in the US. Trump received three. Pop culture flooded social media, with a new celebrity every minute telling us that America ‘had’ to pick the smart option in Hillary Clinton through the selfie camera of their brand new iPhone 7. Beyoncé and Jay Z appeared with Clinton in the last days of her campaign, urging their fans and followers to get behind the woman that could be the first female president. It would be madness to vote for the alternative, surely?

Or what? Americans kept hearing of the cliff edge that lay beyond this door, the dark times that would follow. But nobody could see what was behind the closed door. For millions and millions of Americans, America wasn’t working. The safe door wasn’t working. What did they have to lose?

And yet the arrogance of modern liberalism raged on. The ‘we know best’ attitude dominated the media. We liberals know what we’re doing, we’ll take it from here. Leave it to us. But that wasn’t satisfactory for 61.2 million Americans. It’s time for the left to stop patronising voters, because they should never be underestimated. I’m no fan of Mr. Trump, but to panic and be shocked by victory is counter-productive. It’s time for liberals and the media to argue properly for an alternative.

Josh Kirby
(Image courtesy of Los Angeles Times)

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