And the Failure of Progressive Politics

It is hard to overstate the importance of belief systems. They are a vital part of what makes us human. Because they give us something to… well, believe in. And that can help make our lives worthwhile, by giving us more to live for. But in the process they can also make us stagnant and less imaginative – if not just plain dumb.

Look how stubbornly blind we remained for centuries, because of our unwillingness to question anything that appeared in the bible. How long were we not able to see the curve of the earth’s surface, even from the perspective of a mountain top? And how long did we look up at the moon as it passed through its many phases – the ones created by its own shadow – apparently without having the foggiest notion that it was a ball and not a disk, or for that matter, that the planet we watched it from was one as well – and that it was not the center of the universe, or even of our solar system.

That ignorance was a testament to the power of our belief system, the one that told us everything in the bible was literally true, and that everything we had “learned” from the church and its priesthood, had to continue to be true as well – lest we inadvertently challenge anything the bible might be telling us.

Thankfully we are much too well informed and educated to be so receptive today. We’re able to think for ourselves – at least we like to think so.

That is why so many of us look at the MAGA crowd, and ask ourselves, how could they be so stupid as to so blindly follow someone like Trump? How can they not realize how wrong he is about the election, about everything? And how did we get to the point where someone like him could get elected village idiot, never mind President of the United States?

The answers to those questions mainly come down to an unwillingness by his followers to consider any facts that challenge their Trump-centric view of the world. And perhaps the reason we have no answers to our questions about them, is because of a similar obstinance by those of us outside that camp, and in progressive politics in general.

So to the above questions I would add, what does progressive politics have to do with our inability to see across the divide that sits between ourselves and those who worship Donald Trump?

To search for that answer, I’d like to step back a moment and take a look at an important issue that’s been around for decades, but is still highly relevant today – as can be seen in my book, The Contrarian Candidate. So let’s consider the continuing debate around an assault weapons ban.

To my way of thinking, the reason a full ban is not already in place is largely due to the argument the NRA has cleverly presented. And it goes something like this, “Assault rifles are no more dangerous than semi-automatic hunting rifles of the same caliber. In fact the differences are purely cosmetic. And the only reason you liberals don’t like them is because they look more dangerous.”

Either that, or they simply claim that assault weapons “do not exist” as a class of firearms.

In other words, they’re basically saying it’s a distinction without a difference. And that might make sense – except for the fact that it’s pure nonsense. Because those “cosmetic” distinctions do make assault rifles quite different, and in ways that make them much more lethal instruments of death – as any red-blooded mass murderer will tell you. Which is why they all prefer to use them in their killing.

The first supposedly cosmetic difference, as can be seen in the image below, is the metal structure around the rifle barrel. That’s called a barrel shroud. And it’s there to keep the operator from burning himself. Because if you fire a rifle at a rate of several rounds per second, which assault rifles are capable of doing, that barrel is going to get very hot very quickly. And the reason that is not a concern with hunting rifles, is because no self-respecting hunter is going to fire that many rounds that quickly.­­­­

The second and perhaps most obvious “cosmetic” difference, is the assault rifle’s pistol grip – which allows the operator to “aim” more quickly and shoot from a more effective stance – such as from the hip. All of which gives him more efficient ways to kill massive amounts of people at short range. By contrast, a shoulder-fired rifle offers a narrower kill zone, and the shooter is much more vulnerable to being attacked from behind or from the side – mainly because he has a much narrower range of vision. So in relatively close quarters, it’s simply much safer and easier for an unarmed bystander to tackle someone shooting a shoulder-fired rifle. And mass murderers know this. That is why the vast majority of them choose assault rifles to do their killing.

Of course a pistol can be used in much the same way. But a hand gun has a smaller bullet, which fires at a much lower velocity. And as a result, it does much less damage to the victim.

So to sum up, mass murderers use assault rifles to do their killing, so they can safely fire more rounds more quickly, and spray bullets over a wider area using a much deadlier round – all while being less vulnerable to attack of any kind. It’s that simple. And it’s all based on the fact that assault rifles are built with one purpose in mind. And it’s not to hunt rabbits and deer. They are designed and manufactured to kill lots of people very quickly, and with little skill or effort required by the shooter.

Yet in all the years the NRA has been perpetuating the myth about the cosmetic nature of assault rifles, the progressive antigun lobby has been unable to employ, or perhaps even understand, this simple, precise and rather obvious rebuttal. And why is that?

To my mind it speaks mainly to an inability by those who lead the progressive movement to think outside the box. Which in this instance would mean seeing the world from a different perspective, one not dominated by progressive ideals, but rather from the perspective of those outside their liberalist point of view. And that inability stems mainly from the fact that the progressive “priesthood” inside its bi-coastal, ivy league bubble, tends to look at anything beyond its pristine view of reality, as either dirty, sinful, unattractive, or just plain beneath its supposedly lofty status – and therefore not worthy of its attention.

So issues about guns and hunting or anything considered part of “Trump country,” is not to be discussed at all, except when served with huge helpings of distain. Thus they fail to see the real difference between assault rifles and hunting rifles – and that it has nothing to do with cosmetics.

This constriction of the senses is also the result of a decades-long narrowing of liberal ideology, essentially down to an almost singular perspective, that of feminism. Just consider the issues that are part of today’s progressive agenda, in comparison with those of feminism:

– Reproductive rights, check

– Sexual assault and harassment, check

– Equal pay and opportunity for women, check

– Affirmative action, check.

Of course you could also include climate change and a few other issues not related to any specific social group – but not much else.

Some may argue that such matters as equal opportunity extend beyond women to the LGBT+ community. But how about trans women? Why aren’t they worthy of the same protections and opportunities? And what about a concern for children? Isn’t that part of feminist ideology? Sure, as long as those concerns are not specific to boys. And similarly, racial equality is a concern only when those concerns are not specific to men of color.

And that gets us back to the overriding issue at hand, the success of Donald Trump. Clearly his base is made up mostly of men, mainly white men, but increasingly those of color as well, especially Hispanic. And why is that? Why have men left the Democratic Party in such numbers to vote for Trump? Why would they even consider doing that?

Well maybe it’s because the Democrats and progressives in general have left men totally out of the political debate. If you don’t believe that, then make a list of all the men’s issues that are an essential part of today’s politics. Can you name even one that is up there in perceived importance with those listed earlier for women?

Did your list include a concern about the fact that men are victims of 80% of all deaths of despair, like drug overdose and suicide? Likely not. Because even if you knew about those issues, you know they’ve never been a part of the debate – and similarly, neither has the much shorter life expectancy of men, or their shockingly high rates of homelessness, incarceration and addiction.

I’m not here to advocate for men’s issues. That’s for others to do if they wish. I’m only trying to point out the ways Trump won the presidency, and the role progressive politics may have played in that – and may now be playing in his current success. I’m here to say that a political party dominated by a single narrow ideology, especially one a half century old, is not likely to have much connection with the real issues of the day – if only because its adherents are not able to see the world as it now is, but only as its outdated ideology needs it to be in order to survive. So if it needs the world to be flat, then the world will be flat. If it needs its ideology to be the center of the universe, then it will be the center of the universe. And that is not a recipe for success in the real world.

And it’s not that these feminist issues are unimportant. They clearly do deserve attention, even today. But my questions are these, “Do they really represent the totality of the social problems currently being faced by the country? And are they really the only issues Democratic politics needs to address?”

Because a political party, like any institution, has only so much funding, time and reach – and therefore only so much it can do. And with the primary focus within the Democratic Party being on feminist issues, there’s little time or appetite for any others. And that gives Donald Trump free reign to go after men – and their dutiful partners (as Hilary Clinton once framed it).

And it isn’t as if Trump himself is campaigning on behalf of men and their issues. It’s only that he’s willing to blow up the world, especially the parts of it men have come to resent, mainly as a result of being repeatedly ignored, ostracized, and even ridiculed by them – like Hollywood, the mainstream media, higher education, and the political system as a whole. Which leaves a real opening for anyone with a positive message.

So even if you don’t think male issues are deserving of attention, isn’t it worth spending a bit of time and effort on them if it helps defeat Donald Trump, especially given how much his success with men is a result of them being ignored, if not rejected by the Democratic Party?

Just look at the Hilary Clinton campaign of 2016. When she was criticized for not being able to attract more male voters, she of course attributed that to misogyny and a backlash against feminism, rather than her failure to advocate for a single male issue during her entire campaign. But after the Democratic convention she reluctantly agreed to spend a few hours on male issues.

So what was her message to men during that brief period?

It was essentially that, women’s issues are men’s issues. And that was as far as she was willing to go in her effort to appeal to men.

So I invite all the women reading this to reverse that statement and see how it sits with them. Because that is how a lot of men feel about every issue, every debate, every election that takes place in politics today. They feel the same as you would feel about voting for someone who has only one thing to say to you – that “men’s issues are women’s issues.”

Though admittedly, with Trump still around, and with him having such a high probability of winning, that message may turn out to be a whole lot more prescient than most would care to imagine. Because with most women so concerned about defeating Donald Trump – men’s issues may truly turn out to be women’s issues in the presidential election of 2024.