I am a 22-year-old leftist. For the last decade of my political life, liberals have called me a naive idealist. From debate tournaments, to Democratic caucuses, to dinner-table-debates, I have endured dozens of lectures from life-long Democrats who see my radicalism as a dangerous folly of youth — something to be lauded at times, scolded at others, and ultimately, outgrown.
Treating leftism like a toddler’s mistake, these Democrats have told me bedtime stories warning of the dangers and failures leftism has wrought in American political life.
Their story goes something like this:
When I was 3-years-old, naive leftists who voted for Nader over Gore handed the country to Bush and thrust the nation into war.
When I was 7, naive anti-war leftists helped Republicans portray Kerry as a weak anti-American liberal instead of the strong warmonger that might have beaten Bush.
When I was 11, they tell me, America temporarily overcame its otherwise undefeatable racism and elected a Pragmatic Young Progressive™ who bravely and brilliantly disarmed the camps of naive leftist occupiers and pragmatically bailed out the banks.
When I was 12, Obama overcame naive leftists like Bernie Sanders to pass a Pragmatic™ healthcare bill which was far enough right to not be repealed. Tragically, they tell me, that healthcare bill was thrown into question when naive leftists like 18-year-old me helped elect Trump and put Obama’s supposedly repeal-proof bill at risk — and threw women’s rights into question by not being sufficiently enthusiastic for Hillary Clinton (also a Pragmatic Progressive™) thereby leaving a supreme court seat to be filled by Trump.
And, of course, today, naive leftists like myself almost risked losing to Trump by nominating a socialist, and are at fault for the probability that RBG’s seat on the Supreme Court will be filled by Trump all because we were just too naive not to support the Pragmatic Centrists™ of ages past.
As a younger leftist, I took these accusations of idealism with pride. After all, without ideals, how will we ever build a better world?
However, as I have aged, and as I have watched Democrats fail to defeat one of the least competent politicians in American history, I’ve come to realize that liberals, not leftists, are the naive idealists whose belief in American institutions and Republican principles has very possibly destroyed my future.
With that in mind, I propose a different bedtime story, with a much scarier boogieman:
When I was 3 years old, Democrats allowed a Christian fascist to take the most powerful office on earth and destroy hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives because they were too naive and idealistic to contest the election.
When I was 7, they handed Bush another victory because they were naive and idealistic enough to believe they could fight nationalist war mongering with better dressed nationalist warmongering.
When I was 11, they allowed Obama to destroy the Occupy movement because they were too naive and idealistic to realize that bailing out the banks was little more than a band-aid, and that an entire generation of voters would be alienated by that disappointment.
When I was 12, they were naive and idealistic enough to believe that, by passing a cruel and insufficient healthcare bill, they could somehow prevent the cruelest political party in American history from trying to repeal it for the next 10 years.
Throughout my teenage years, they allowed the Republicans to win election after election because they were naive and idealistic enough to believe that the Tea Party movement was too fringe and extreme to motivate any real change, and because they were too naive and idealistic to use two years worth of super-majority to crush voter suppression altogether. They were naively concerned that Republicans would somehow become even more hostile if Democrats tried to stack the odds in their favor for once.
When I was 18, they allowed the Republicans to delay filling Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court because they were too naive and idealistic to understand the very real chance that Trump would win, and because they were too naive and idealistic not to nominate a candidate with broad based support rather than a deeply unpopular poor campaigner.
And now, after four years of Democrats being too naive and idealistic to replace their leadership with people who are courageous enough to actually obstruct Trump’s agenda, they were so naive and idealistic that they nominated a man who wants to work with Republicans, restore America to the way it was when it elected Trump, and who is actively condemning the largest anti-conservative mass movement in recent memory.
I am certain that, as they read this, they are naive and idealistic enough to believe that a Biden victory will do anything more than slightly delay the rise of fascism, much less the rising seas.
You see, the problem with Democratic voters is that they are far too naive to realize that there is no going back to normal, that the American normal has never been just, and they are too idealistic to realize that there is no civil, high road, well spoken way to defeat fascism.
It is difficult to express how completely cynical my generation has become. Millennials have resigned themselves to an unjust economy while Zoomers are sharpening their pitchforks. We’ve both grown up watching Democrats repeatedly fail to stop fascism — not because the fascists are clever or powerful, but because Democratic voters have a naive and idealistic dream that the America that existed in the white suburbs of 1998 can somehow exist once again.
Well, my sweet naive liberal friends, I am sorry to tell you that past is forever dead. I’m even sorrier to tell you that my future is dying. And so, the ultimate question for liberal voters is really quite simple — are you ready to get real, take off the gloves, and fight bare-knuckled to save the world from fascism? Or would you rather keep naively pining for the archaic stability that my generation has never even known?
You don’t have much time to choose.