I write this on the heels of reading Jamelle Bouie’s always excellent newsletter.
A good chunk of the Internet has been consumed in a conversation over Jonathan Chait’s New York magazine on the “new political correctness.” I have…tried to avoid that conversation as much as possible.
But I’ll say this: I think there are poisonous language norms among some parts of the social media left. I just don’t think Chait did justice to the actual dynamics at work. For that, I recommend this piece from Freddie DeBoer, which does a much better job highlighting the problems with this kind of hyper-vigilant language policing. Namely, that they fracture and limit the left as a place for organizing and action. Or as DeBoer puts it, “I want a left that can win, and there’s no way I can have that when the actually-existing left sheds potential allies at an impossible rate. But the prohibition against ever telling anyone to be friendlier and more forgiving is so powerful and calcified it’s a permanent feature of today’s progressivism.”
I suppose that makes someone like me not PC. While I would never prohibit anyone to say anything, for any reason, because it really isn’t democratic, I must remind everyone that being “friendlier” or, more accurately, more compromising, is what has gotten the Democrats in the neoliberal bind they’re in today, and the country in the economic and social mess it is in, through the triangulating and short-cut taking promoted after the Reagan years.
The party is under the complete control of the neoliberal wing. Normally, after such losses as this midterm election, the old guard would have resigned and new leadership would have been installed. No such thing happened immediately after Election 2014. When every candidate favored by an establishment that spurned its sitting president and was aggressively supported by the “presumptive nominee” loses due to dismal turnout, it should have been time to do some deep soul searching. Within a week, Pelosi and Reid had kept their seats and Reid installed the most neoliberal among the senators he has left to run the DCCC. Reid even tried giving Elizabeth Warren a leadership title with no job to placate the progressive wing. That just isn’t how losers come off a loss, but yet, here we are…
So… Maybe Jonathan Chait is a neoliberal? That would explain his annoyance with those of us who, like those voters who stayed away from the polls, realize that you can’t compromise on core values and remain true to yourself. We need to learn something from the hardening of the GOP. Like a torrent, with its unswerving dedication to dogma, it has swept the entire political system to the hard right.