Why The Left Keeps Losing
Millennials have become the largest living generation in history, most of whom entered their voting years this decade. In an era that champions—or at least pretends to champion—social progressiveness, the liberal left is no longer the driving force across the world. In fact, it seems to be devolving into a poor opposition—from the failure of ‘Occupy Wall Street’, to the historic rise of India’s nationalist party, and most recently, Brexit, its pathologies could not have chosen a worse time to grow, considering the rise of the radical right.
One of the main problems of the Left, be it in the form of a political leader, or friends and acquaintances on social media, is that they prefer to not engage; rather, they seem to condescend. A major blow to Hillary Clinton’s electoral campaign was when she called Donald Trump’s supporters a ‘basket of deplorables’. In doing so, she effectively alienated a large part of the electorate, and handed the Right the ammunition they needed to paint her as an elitist. The mentality of chiding people with alternative opinions is one that runs deep, and online debate, where feigned claims of acceptance are made, frequently paints people who are against a favoured opinion as regressive.
The liberal movement shifted from championing pluralism and embracing all forms of diversity and acceptance, into implicit rejection of those who do not share the same views. Freddie Deboer, a political writer, makes a good point. “Political progress is always and only about pulling the edge cases into a particular orbit and hoping that in time they will come to circle closer and closer to your goals.” It is an insurmountable task to get anyone to abandon their policies, particularly those who support the Right, but if the Left starts practicing the message of acceptance and love they so often preach, a lot of the Centre will find themselves leaning towards the Left.
The Left also suffers the continuing issue of being unable to connect with a large part of the population. What many often forget is that social justice is still only viewed as an elite matter. Actual change requires a lot more than memes and idealism. Rural India, and blue-collar jobs in general, have this in common; labourers worry more about the assurance of work and their ability to provide completely for their families, and less about a protest being held to champion their cause.
This is where the Right excels—they manoeuvre themselves as ‘one of the people’. Given the choice between a man who started from a tea-stall, fighting for his livelihood, and a man born of privilege, complete with an Ivy League education, it is an easy choice for the majority of the working-class. Narendra Modi’s sweeping win, and BJP’s continued success answers that question.
Let’s not assume that this is a weakness only the Right exploits. In the context of India, this gap between the people and the previous ruling party is what caused the rise of regional political parties. Whether it was the rise of AAP in Delhi, or the continued success of AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, people have always voted for heroes of the ‘everyday’.
Perhaps the most costly misstep of the Left is that as an en masse movement, they have failed to organise themselves time and time again. DeRay Mckesson, the civil-rights activist best known for his work with Black Lives Matter, worried that “…there is a noticeable absence of grace in the movement space”, and that “some people are more addicted to fighting than winning.” Therein lies the rub; the narrative often is about the protesters and not what they protest.
There is a stark difference between the words ‘opposition’ and ‘resistance’. The Left should aim to embody the former, instead of reclaiming the latter. After the infamous Nirbhaya rape case in Delhi, the protesters had simple demands; stricter laws and faster justice. Since the government derives their power from the consent of the governed, their demands were met with swiftly. We often forget that a movement is only successful if it effects change. Noise is fuelled by public anger, and easy for those in power to ride out.
And though the internet loves idolizing Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron as the saviours of the movement, it simply cannot be an accurate stance. If we are to quantify ‘Trudeauism’, the gist of the matter is that Trudeau believes that the different components of Canada should be kept separate, as opposed to a unified state, and this is quite the opposite of what the Liberal movement is all about. And while Emmanuel Macron’s win as a Centre candidate is a ray of hope, he’s actually a step to the right from socialist president Francois Holland.
The reason the Right keeps winning, is because they acknowledge and respond to legitimate grievances. They validate people’s fear and their anger against the system that always seems to have common people at a disadvantage. Most importantly, they show the same distaste for elitism. The unwillingness of the Left to burst their own bubble has caused them to drift away from the people, and towards their downfall.