THE GREAT COMPLEXITY OF POLITICAL TERMS – LEFT AND RIGHT, AND EXTREME LEFT AND RIGHT, AND RADICAL LEFT AND RIGHT, AND MODERATE LEFT AND RIGHT – makes our discussion of issues difficult. We use these terms to show that there is a cohesion in identifiable groups of people. However, as I learned in philosophy, NO TERM is circumscribed with clear lines of demarcation, and terms only describe areas of meaning with fuzzy lines. My friend Eitan Shishkoff responded to my post on selective compassion where I speak about the far left and radical left. Eitan was concerned that I would unnecessarily alienate people who would think they were being pigeonholed – lumped into a category. So, I just want to give some definition. I want to introduce this by noting that the center hardly exists today in American politics. It is very hard to be truly in the middle between the great parties. Joe Biden used to be such a person, who we would call moderate left or left of center, but he now seems to be embracing more radical policies that he used to eschew. Also, Maine Senator Susan Collins would be considered moderate right, very centrist.
No issue has been so clearly a dividing issue than abortion. There used to be pro-choice Republicans, but now only Susan Collins is known for that stand. There used to be pro-life Democrats, but now only Senator Casey from Pennsylvania and a conservative pro-life Democrat from the South hold to such positions. Pro-life people consider the Democratic party to itself have become radical since they do not support limiting abortion to the early months of pregnancy and now almost universally support abortion at all stages of pregnancy for any reason, even up to the point of birth. The Virginia governor even spoke of letting the baby die after being born alive though the baby could be saved. No other issue has been more polarizing and, due to this, many pro-lifers now will not vote for Democrats. To think that 60 years ago the Democrats were the favored party of Evangelicals, many of whom – like my Norwegian family – loved Franklin Roosevelt. Most were pro-life.
One of the problems in dealing with the issues of right and left is that the terms do not mean what they did just a few years ago. More and more of the people in the Democrat party, in my view, are no longer left of center but are really fully on the left. Some of the same people who would have been moderate left have moved more to the left. We also see the more moderate left losing elections to the radical left candidates. I will speak of this more. Abortion is only one such issue. But we can list many more such issues. Here are some other key issues on which Democrats are united. The Democratic party as a whole embraces the LGBTQ agenda fully. A few years ago, Barak Obama said he was not in favor of gay marriage. Now they accept the idea of pregnant men in the men’s barracks (an Obama regulation). Joe Biden used to support the Hyde amendment that did not allow spending tax payer dollars for abortions. This is an accommodation to pro-life religious conviction. Now he has dropped his old position. This is a position of the left. The idea that religious conviction for charities is overridden, and they must support health services (like contraception) is the position of the Democrats now. (This was recently overturned by the Supreme Court, thank God.) The idea that Catholic adoption agencies after so many successful years can no longer partner with the state since they want to place children in homes with mothers and fathers, has been accepted. The idea that nurses and doctors should not be able to opt out of abortion services in hospitals due to conscience is strongly held. Democrats used to support charter schools but with the pressure from the teachers’ union, they are mostly now dropping that support. The issue of private artistic business being required to be accomplices to gay weddings, what they would consider sin, is a Democratic position (the Supreme Court ruled against the Democratic position. So they now talk about packing the Supreme Court to get their agenda established.) In issue after issue, the mainstream Democrats have moved more and more left. They used to be anti-Socialist but desired more spending for the welfare side of the State. There is now a very strong anti-religious bent in the former party of the Evangelicals. On the environment, they seek to avoid the answer to the green house issues in natural gas as a transition and nuclear (a best solution), for fantasies of wind power. They have adopted more of the radical green new deal (AOC) which they used to reject. I do not think we can talk about moderate Democrats today. There are a few and some may privately think in more moderate terms, but they have been pushed left. I now say the Democratic party is leftist with strong socialist influence. But this is not the same as what I mean by radical or extreme leftists.
What do I mean by extreme left or radical left. The radicals have embraced a host of directions that align them more with types of revisionist Marxism. In some ways what is being put forth is more like Hebert Marcuse’s later book on Revolution written in 1969. Here are some aspects of this.
- A fully socialist agenda
- Cancel culture. Those who espouse conservative views are to be ‘cancelled’ and not considered to be part of the discussion. Religious and political views that used to be within normal dialogue and debate are now to not be permitted. Free speech is questioned. The Constitution is not valued. This will lead to religious persecution. In today’s Jerusalem Post, Zalman Shoval spoke out strongly against this and worried that this orientation is totalitarian and leads usually to Anti-Semitism. He gave several examples. Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and Denins Prager are only a few that are sounding the alarm.
- Traditional religious moral teaching on sexuality and marriage is defined as hate speech. You can see this with the radicals that last night burned Bibles in Portland. Former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke called for churches that do not support LGBTQ lifestyle legitimacy to lose their tax exemption. (He was not speaking about civil rights, but about what the churches are allowed to believe and teach).
- The doctrine of intersectionality where all oppressed people are one and their oppressors are to be identified together. This includes vilifying white men as oppressors of women and minorities, white women called ‘karens’ who do not fully embrace the cause, seeing Israel as the oppressor of the Palestinians which is leading to Anti-Semitism (witness Congresswoman Ilhan Omer), ending the favoring of the hetero-normal nuclear family. Then there is the demand to raise minority hiring to the percentage they have designated (23% black hiring in Seattle), defunding the police, allowing criminals to be released form jails (even if violent).
- Legitimizing violence in the protests for racial justice. Note that 81% of Blacks polled said they want more police presence or at least the same amount. The anti-police radicals do not represent the Black community.
- Claiming that America was born in sin and America is from first to last an evil nation. They claim that the founders were not good people even though some founders were abolitionist. They have torn down statues of Washington and Grant! There is an anti-American thrust that is painful to watch. All nations are mixtures, more or less, of good and evil. Selective research can make any nation into evil incarnate.
One sees this sweeping the college campuses and also popular culture. Teen Vogue just had an article calling for abolishing private property. One sees it in the response to Heather McDonald, the researcher on statistics for how police treat blacks, banned on social media. She may be wrong, but she is a serious researcher who does not think the racism with police is as great as claimed. She should be part of the debate and the questions do need more research.
What is sad is that the former moderate Democrats are not speaking out strongly against the radical leftist views. And in addition, the racial leftists are winning primaries against the mainstream. Somehow the mainstream Democrats are now less mainstream and do not speak out firmly against those in the protests that are violent, against Antifa, against police defunding. Any words have been mere qualifications, tepid, almost as if they need the radicals as part of their vote. The university campuses have largely been lost to radical views.
I think the United States is in very bad straits. So due to all of this, I have concluded that only mighty spiritual revival can stem the tide. The darkness is very dark right now, but as promised to Israel in Isaiah 66:1-2, the light can arise and has before in history at times of great darkness.