We don’t understand democracy anymore. Conservatives, Republicans – I think they understand it far better, but Liberals no. I’m a Liberal – it seems I must be what they call a classic Liberal, one that simply believes in Egalitarianism, you know equal rights, freedom of speech, the free market, less interference from governments but also the welfare system and free healthcare.
I’ve also been very anti-patriotic and anti-bigotry; which are essential qualities for being a modern Liberal. However, this is changing, I’m finding it harder to maintain my bigotry radar and I’ve wondered for sometime if we are shooting ourselves in the foot by trying to smash the system.
Liberals struggle to understand that Democracy only really works when you respect other people’s opinions and when you are willing to share power with people you do not like.
Today’s Liberals appear not to understand that people holding views outside of their own does not mean that that the other group do not have a firm set of reasons why they hold them.
Take for example the pro-life, pro-choice debate. Liberals believe that the reason why Republicans are widely against abortion is because on some level they are simply privileged, un-educated and probably religious zealots. 50% of women in the US are pro-life and anti-abortion, 41% are pro-choice and the rest are clearly conflicted.
Abortion should not be a no brainer, it is complicated for all kinds of reasons and we are talking about the creation of a human life who, if born will bring his or her own unique, irreplaceable perspectives into our world. Of course I am less convinced abortion is a problem when it is carried out at the earliest possible stage and the pregnancy is unwanted or is obviously going to be problematic. Some small percentage of pro-life supporters believe a soul is present the instant binary fission takes place but at the other extreme certain fringe feminists believe that they should have the right to abort right up to the day before they have contractions.
Either way, the point is that democracy is how we get around opposing views and moral conundrums like these. Democracy assumes that diametrically opposed groups can be united in the belief that there is innate wisdom in your opposite. I may not be religious, but someone who is may introduce me to a methodology or a perspective that I absorb via second or third hand influence and thrive from, maybe even off the back of conflict if the original source was offensive to me.
While I believe more and more that good democratic practice comes from patriotism and good will, that we should accept the vote and try and make a jolly good go of things, I don’t mean that this should mean total compliance if you have legitimate concerns and disagreements, this is why we have freedom of speech and freedom to protest, but what I object to, in particular to the modern Liberal narrative is the idea that if you are not Liberal you are not good, you are a bigot.
The current and I think alarming trend for Liberals is that rather than accept the outcome of a democratic process, they double down on their rhetoric, embolden their resolve and insist that they must be right, that everyone else must be wrong, their ultimate aim to overturn the result. This process seems so self-destructive. Not only does it alienate more and more moderates, sympathetic Conservatives and even actual Liberals, the message becomes so garbled and nonsensical that it is utterly meaningless.
I am at odds with the Womens Marches for these reasons, primarily I don’t know what it was about, I don’t see why vaginas and hijabs are the most memorable images I recount, it seemed extremely unfocused, open to all women unless you happened to be a pro-life supporter, open to all men so long as you are a beta male, and all political views so long as you didn’t dare wear your Trump t-shirt.
I get that this was probably a fun thing to do, getting dressed up, joining in, letting off some steam and it is undeniable how impressive it looks on TV. However rather than any kind of political tour de force, what I witnessed was Glastonbury for activists. A brand freed from its simple adhoc roots and inexpensive entry fees and now an exclusive resort for middle class families who want to do a falafel weekend.
None of this is offensive to me if it is just a bit of fun, a carnival, a day of re-purposing the streets from miserable traffic jams to colourful parades of happy people, but with certain political dynamics at stake we actually need a solid and broader centre ground that pushes an inclusive agenda rather than an exclusive one. I am instantly not represented in a march called the ‘Womens March’ I don’t know why it couldn’t be the ‘Peoples March’ and I don’t know why Madonna is threatening to blow up the Whitehouse, because this sends out the message that if you literally do not agree with us, you deserve to die.
Why reject the democractic process in this manner? Where do modern Liberals want to take this?
The more a brand of ethical purity is pushed, the more idealistic and exclusive it becomes and, arguably the less effective it is as a serious opposition to the populist uprisings we are starting to witness.
The more doubling down on this message there is, the more opportunity you are giving to leaders like Donald Trump, it is crucial that if you value centre ground political frameworks that we stop provoking an us and them atmosphere.
But will this happen? Can Liberals be modest enough to accept defeat, can they entertain the idea that Democracy is basically the sharing of power and that power should be won by presenting good strong, moral, factual, logical arguments that can stand up in debate.
However, I am concerned that rather than do this, they will instead avoid such a challenge and seek instead the confirmation bias and listen to voices that claim to agree with them.
There is such a group of people willing to listen to Liberals, willing to tell them what they want to hear, how awful and corrupted their society is, they are willing to boost their numbers significantly, and will offer an alternative to white male supremacist patriarchy and traditional Christian values.
Please, do not make that alliance if you truly value democracy, your freedoms and the rights of women.