Why I Left the ‘Left’
Immediately, upon reading the title, you are probably already forming judgments in your head: “Oh great, he’s probably an Alt-Right weirdo.” Or perhaps you’re thinking, “Yes! Here is another conservative who hates political correctness and ‘safe spaces’!”
This is what we do in 2017: we see something, check its source, and make judgments. That 45 year old white guy whose Facebook profile picture is a Ford pick up truck? He probably voted for Trump. That girl with short, purple hair and a septum piercing? She totally supports abortion. In an age of social media, where engaging our political rival is as easy as writing a comment on his status, such judgments are quick and our control over them weak.
But this post will certainly ruffle some of your feathers. After all, by “leaving” the Left side of the political spectrum, it is implied that I found something lacking in a political movement which many of my good friends see as salvific. Already, I know there are those who will criticize my decision and say #NotAllLeftists! And that’s fine. But as someone who proudly identified as “Left”/Left-leaning since the age of 11, I believe I have a decent understanding of what I joined, and what I am now leaving.
During this tumultuous time in our nation’s history, we are so insecure, so afraid, and so angry, that we are snapping turtles just waiting for someone to piss us off for thinking differently than us. And so, I ask you — as hard as it may be — to suspend judgment and read on to see why I, a New England-born, blue-blooded liberal left the Left.
What is the Left?
Since the time of the French Revolution (late 18th century), one of the ways the West has discussed political allegiance is by the use of the terms “Left”, “Center”, and “Right”. Generally-speaking, the Left was seen as the political progressives, the innovators open to change, new ideas, and “progress”. The Right, on the other hand, was seen as those royalists loyal to the king (in Europe), defenders of a literal interpretation of the Constitution (in America), and defenders of tradition. The Center, as you can expect, was home to a moderate balance of both values.
In American political discourse, the Left is seen as… well, I’ll let you decide that, based on your political persuasion. But for its proponents, the Left values progress — the belief that we continuously make the world a better place through change and an advancement toward a particular goal, whether it be broadening the definition of “marriage” to include two men (or three, apparently), pushing for life imprisonment over the barbaric act of lethal injection, or challenging gender stereotypes which can be harmful to non-conformists. Another value of the Left is equality, a value carried-over from the French Revolution & the Enlightenment. As a reminder, historically both were reactions to growing divisions between the rich and the poor, the kings and their peasants. Equality is seen generally as a good thing — “all human beings are created equal” is a concept which can challenge arguments against racism, sexism, and xenophobia. A third value held dear to the Left is tolerance. Everyone is different, has their own viewpoints, and is entitled to their own beliefs. Therefore, no one can say that one’s viewpoint is better (or even more true) than another’s.
Diversity. Tolerance. Equality. Justice. Progress. What was there not to like?
A Natural Fit
As a Millennial, I was born into a generation arguably more liberal than other in our nation’s history. As a New Englander, I was in the most blue part of the country. I breathed in all of this, and Left-wing ideology seemed more civilized and accurate of a viewpoint than its counterpart- a stingy, old, dusty conservatism which sought to limit my freedom and personal agency. And so, it is obvious why I aligned myself with them.
Being born in a Roman Catholic household, I was taught about God, the Church, and how one should act in the world. The poor? They were to be taken care of, a direct command from the lips of Christ. The sick? Well, it seemed obvious that everyone should have healthcare. The marginalized? They should be embraced and reminded of their God-given dignity.
And so, from the time I was able to learn about American politics, I began to align myself with the Left. In the Left, I saw a distribution of wealth which did not simply favor the rich, privileged, and “hard-working”. In the Left, I saw values like equality and tolerance held in high esteem. In the Left, especially post-9/11 (I was 11 years old), I saw that the “liberal” politicians tended to be the ones who saw my Muslim friend, Ahmed, as a human person instead of a foreign threat.
As I grew older and began to form stronger opinions, I grew deeper in my conviction that the Left was the proper place to be on the political spectrum. It seemed as if it was the Left — primarily led by Democrats — who pushed for things such as labor & civil rights, feminism, peace, social justice, environmentalism, LGBT rights, etc. These things were desirable and honorable causes. After all, why shouldn’t the minimum wage be raised to $15/hour? Why shouldn’t two gay men be able to wed civilly? What harm is there in increasing taxes on the rich?
I suppose this is where you expect me to share with you my conservative epiphany, where I was visited in a dream by Karl Rove and Glenn Beck, changing my blue underwear with donkeys on it for red ones with an elephant design. However, that is not the case. I did not leave the Left for its archenemy, the Right. I am leaving the whole system, together. But first, my departure.
Why I Left
You see, if I was to write down my “values”, chances are I would have more boxes checked under the Democrat column than the Republican one. That’s just the way it works in my head. Yes, I believe the rich should be taxed more than the poor. Yes, I believe that the death penalty should be completely outlawed. Yes, I believe that we need federal programs to help protect the environment. While I believe that terms like “progress”, “equality”, and “tolerance” are generally good within the right parameters, they have become buzzwords for some activists to justify nearly anything. These words deserve stronger clarification than what contemporary liberals are comfortable offering.
And yet, I do not believe that I should continue to support and identify with the Left any longer. Here’s three reasons why:
- The Left, which often prides itself in its noble defense of life and freedom, has all but sold its soul to the pro-choice devil. I used to identify as a “Pro-Life” Democrat until began to see how, systemically, the Democratic Party is flawed to the core, privileging a liberal notion of “choice” over the inherent dignity of human life. It was made clear that my days of a pro-life Democrat were numbered once abortion was put in its official 2016 party platform, leaving opposition to it as “not negotiable” from the lips of the DNC chairman, Tom Perez. Aside from abortion, the Left’s continual insistence of artificial contraception, assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, support of drone strikes (*cough, Obama), etc. continue to betray it’s “progressive” claim. There is nothing at all progressive about the taking away of human life. There is nothing praiseworthy about adopting a mentality which sees suffering patients as expendable, or the sexual act as a privatized enterprise for creativity and liberality of purpose. While I have written much about how Trump was not the pro-life candidate, the Left can’t exactly say they brought anyone much better to the table on election night.
Gender Theory & Cultural Marxism
- In recent years, the liberal media has continued to propagate the idea that gender is a “social construct”, and that transgenderism is natural, healthy, and normal. The idea that one’s physical reality and gender can be separated from his or her biological sex is asinine at best. Gender theory is pouring into schools, misleading children into thinking that they can choose (or in liberal terms, “discover”) their gender identity, sowing seeds of confusion and disarray to many who have correctly held that male and female are the only two genders. Another fault of the Left is in its embrace of cultural Marxism, by which I mean viewing all human relations in society as clash between classes. This has given us such concepts such as “white privilege”, where whites of today somehow benefit from the centuries in which blacks were “oppressed”. To be sure, slavery certainly was (and still is) a grave moral evil. That stated, reducing everything to class warfare is a play from the Marxist playbook, and is another form of dialectical materialism. Privilege comes from a wide array of socioeconomic factors — not race alone. Concepts of “privilege” perpetuate class warfare and brings it to a new scale; in an ironic turn, the attempt to call out racial injustice results in an obsession over race, which allows race wars to continue.
Thought Police & 2+2=5:
- In his famous novel, 1984, George Orwell writes of a dystopian future society in which all citizens are subject to a superstate political regime. Everything — including the morality of actions — is defined by the Party line. This novel is where terms like “thought police” and “2 + 2 = 5” originate; the thought police monitors unapproved thoughts or beliefs, and if they find something which contradicts the Party line, they will punish violators guilty of such a “thoughtcrime”. What was once a dystopian universe for Orwell is now an actualized reality for us living in 2017. Nowadays, arguing against LGBT theory and opposing the concept of same-sex marriage can cost you your job. Colleges, once havens of free speech and critical thought, have become self-enclosed “safe spaces” where anything said which contradicts the Left’s agenda is enough to force a transfer to a different school. While people like Milo Yiannopoulos & the “Alt-Right” are not the answer to this form of hyper-sensitive thought-policing, we should be concerned that one cannot simply disagree with the Left’s agenda without putting one’s job (or life) in jeopardy. The concept of “2 + 2 = 5” also comes from Orwell’s novel. By this, the novel’s protagonist muses whether popular opinion and public support deem something true. Namely, is the veracity of something defined by its nature, or rather by ours? Today, the Left is adamant about their claims on gender theory, race, multiculturalism, and even drugs. And yet, what happens when someone resists their assertions? Tolerance? Hardly. Certain positions, such as race being a “social construct”, fall flat when they accuse whites of having an inherent privilege they cannot escape. Toleration for open displays of world religions is seen as being “open-minded”, until they see a Christian football player kneel in prayer on the national stage. The Left lives in a post-truth and post-real world; bodies and corporeal substances do not matter nearly as much as their ideas.
In short, my time with the Left was formative, and yet, it left more to be desired. After all, the title of this piece is “Why I Left the Left” and not “Why I Left the Right” precisely because I always saw myself as a pro-life “liberal” of the Left, until my recent abdication. I was never a part of the Right. The answer to my political homelessness, of course, is not in embracing the Right, but rather is leaving political affiliations aside and sticking to issues over personalities and parties. I am an abortion abolitionist, support religious freedom, and oppose assisted suicide; some on the Right would laud me for that, until I talk to them about my views on the economy. I oppose capital punishment, war, torture, draconian prison measures, and unfettered capitalism; some on the Left would “YASSS” me on this, until I explain to them how I find gender theory, marijuana legalization, and embryonic stem cell research repulsive and immoral. In my honest opinion, terms like “the Left” & “the Right” aren’t exactly helpful, but they are useful in describing political realities until the day when our country is not as polarized. In the future, I hope the strict binary of Left versus Right is replaced by something better — perhaps something that did not come from a time of guillotines and lawlessness.