Why Can't the Left Accept a Defeat?
Because Their "Politics" are a Messianic Cult, and Every Religious Zealot Knows You Cannot Repeal the Kingdom of Heaven Come to Earth
Sharp insight from John David Danielson at The Federalist.
The obstinacy of Senate Democrats reflects the mood of their progressive base, whose panicked anger is the natural reaction of those for whom politics has become an article of faith. Progressives, as the terms implies, believe society must always be progressing toward something better. Always forward, never backwards. After eight years of Obama, they believed progressive politics in America would forever be on an upward trajectory.
Trump shook that faith. But his election also unmasked the degree to which progressivism as a political project is based not on science or rationality, or even sound policy, but on faith in the power of government to ameliorate and eventually perfect society. All the protests and denunciations of Trump serve not just as an outlet for progressives' despair, but the chance to signal their moral virtue through collective outrage and moral preening--something that wasn't really possible under Obama, at least not to this degree.
Not that they didn't try. Recall that during the Obamacare debate in 2009 Ezra Klein suggested that Sen. Joe Lieberman was "willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score," simply because he threatened to filibuster what would become the Affordable Care Act. This is the language of political fundamentalism--policy invested with the certainty of religious conviction.
Religious fundamentalism of course rests on immutable truths that cannot be negotiated.
I'm not a big fan of any religion, but traditional religions are nicely circumscribed as far as their scope and ambition. I know what topics a traditional religious outlook will take an interest in -- those related to sex, marriage, childbirth, and the sanctity of life.
Most religions -- except for Islamism, which isn't really a religion but a totalitarian political movement with a quasi-religious justification -- focus chiefly on the metaphysical and the transcendent. They focus on the Kingdom to Come, not the temporal kingdoms of earth.
Therefore, fewer issues are sacralized. Someone who is focusing on your eternal soul is not therefore focusing on your healthcare decisionmaking.
The left politicizes everything, and given the left's increasing cultishness, that means they religicize everything. Everything -- not just a few rules about sodomy and marriage and abortion -- becomes a Sacred Principle which must be fought for with the passionate fury of the zealot, from whether private religiously-based organizations must pay for a woman's $9 per month birth control pills to whether the Pagan Deceiver Milo Yiannopolous can be allowed to step foot upon the sanctified ground of Berkeley Auditorium 3C.
The article linked above pairs nicely -- or pairs ominously -- with this excellent rumination on the death of liberalism (the good sort of classical liberalism) due to the left's insistence on their being only two categories of temporal actions: Those which are forbidden, and those which are mandatory.
The nutshell of his thesis is this: Liberalism was discovered -- not invented, but discovered -- in reaction to the very bloody religious wars that swept through Europe in the 1600s and 1700s. The previous rule that Politics Was Everything and whoever had the throne could inflict his will on everyone, down to mandating what god a citizen should bow to, resulted in endless war, death, misery, and mutual hatred and suspicion.
Classical liberalism was discovered (he's keen on insisting on this word) as a way of avoiding the religious wars that killed 8 million people. The state would be more rules-light, and leave more freedom to citizens, thus reducing the incentive to, or need for, resort to violent bloodshed when Your Guy wasn't on the throne.
He calls this rules-set "a minimum viable politics" -- the minimum possible state interference with the habits and preferences of citizens, yet still preserving of social stability and order. And this minimum viable politics necessarily was a pluralistic politics, permitting all sorts of sharply-disagreeing religions and philosophies. The main thing a "minimum viable politics" focuses on outlawing is illiberalism which itself threatens the minimum viable politics -- thus, a minimum viable politics focuses on protecting people's right to religious conscience, right to free speech and free thought, right to have a say in how they are governed (and later, by whom they are governed).
It does not mandate the tiny particulars of what you must or must not do. It does not require that you bake a cake for someone, for example. Rather, it mandates that you must respect others' freedoms.
Because the alternative is a return to the Thirty Years' War and bomb plots and priests hiding in priest holes as the King's Men search the town for them.
The left is of course undoing all this, turning our rules-light system into a very rules-heavy system, in which virtually everything is illegal, and what little is not illegal, is mandatory. It is reversing pluralism -- and the result of reversing pluralism will be what the result of an end to pluralism has been in the past.
Which is civil war, or, at best, not full civil war but roving bands of Religious Enforcement Vigilante night-riders who terrorize outsiders and pagans with the support and aid of their correligionists.
Which we're seeing more and more of.
Politicians, "journalists," and "celebrities" are actively encouraging punching people they call "Nazis" (which means anyone who disagrees with them; they should just say "Pagans") and "setting it all on fire."
The TV director who made this pronouncement said to open a history book -- it's the only way, she advised.
She should open a history book herself. She should point to me a single case where rampant political violence from one faction was not quickly met by equal or even greater political violence from the factions that were being preyed upon.
Does she think people are going to sit back and let themselves be beaten because the "arc of history" demands they take their lumps agreeably?
No, sister. Soon the people you punch will start punching back, and then, not long after that, they'll start punching first.
And what moral ground will you have to object to it? Your rules, Vagina Warrior.
If the left ever did bother to open a history book, they'd discover that every illiberal, gloriously bloody revolution invites its own equally bloody counter-revolution, it's own Vendee, its own final Thermidor.
If a thing is sacralized, that means you are bound by conscience and God Himself to fight for that. If an enemy is demonized, your are bound to slay that demon.
The more which is sacralized, the more blood, the more maimings, the more fires, the more murders.
In a minimum viable politics, people are free to sacralize what they will, assuming they do not break the rules of minimum viable politics and resort to vigilante violence to vindicate their religious beliefs.
But the left is determined to sacralize every flighty thought that gets into their heads -- like that men with penises should be free to use women's room, and if little girls are bothered by seeing a man's penis, why, they must just "overcome" their "discomfort" at seeing an adult man's penis -- and they are also determined to use the violence of the state or the violence of private vigilantes to enforce those Sacred Lunacies.
It won't end well. It will end, eventually. But not well, and not without many, many casualties, of both the guilty and innocent kind. Mass political violence is like a tornado, and tornadoes do not discriminate between the virtuous and the vicious.
They just kill everything in their path.