The Democrats are torn between being the party of Elizabeth Warren and the party of the guy who cuts her grass, and it is inevitable that the people who provide the Democrats with their votes and manpower are going to eventually start asking why it is that their policy agenda, which is economically focused, is being held hostage to the excretory and sexual obsessions of a relatively tiny cabal of Wellesley graduates and puffed-up assistant vice principals.
You’d think that Republicans, who like to think of themselves as the party of economic growth and opportunity, might reach out to a few of those voters interested in upward mobility for themselves and their children. But Republicans are locked in the political toilet with the Democrats.
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As it turns out, Texas Republicans have a rich fantasy life, too.
Josh Barro is a recovering ex-Republican who is now a member of a niche political group: the non-crazy Democrats. He coined a cute phrase — “the hamburger problem” — to describe the relentless politicization of everything by progressives and Democrats. He writes, “Democrats’ problem isn’t that they’re on the wrong side of policy issues. It’s that they’re too ready to bother too many ordinary people about too many of their personal choices, all the way down to the hamburgers they eat.” He cites nonstop Democratic hectoring on, inter alia, the team name of the Washington Redskins, the way men sit on subway trains, and even some Americans’ choice not to abide by China’s one-child standard as the reasons why the party is today as electorally wobbly as Rocky Balboa in the 15th round. Yet the GOP’s success puzzles him still, because so many core Democratic cultural ideals (notably, gay marriage and marijuana decriminalization) poll more and more strongly.
When John Stuart Mill called the British conservatives “the stupidest party,” it stuck. Today the Democrats are the Annoying Party. The Left thinks Americans are picturing Mary Poppins when they talk about the nanny state; in truth, they’re thinking of Nurse Ratched. The prospect of a new set of nuisances being dreamed up and lashingly enforced by Hillary Clinton is what led voters to roll the dice with an Atlantic City grifter.
It wasn’t that long ago — say, the early 1990s — when Republicans were perceived as intruding into people’s private lives by talking about family values, saying no to drugs, and framing issues in moral terms. Today there can be little doubt that the broad American wish to be left alone is more strongly identified with the GOP, and that the Democratic party is providing a lavishly welcoming political home for the busybodies.
Professional progressives will not eliminate their hamburger problem. They can’t. Their nonstop need to hector others is fundamental to who they are. They genuinely think they’re creating a better world, one tweet or argument or angry unsolicited suggestion to a total stranger at a time.
Jonah Goldberg has been saying for years that progressives are the aggressors in the culture war. The war will never end, because whenever the Left wins a new victory, it pushes forward to the next fight, often over a policy position that would have seemed ludicrously extreme even to Democrats just a few years earlier. Because of what Jonah astutely dubbed “Selma envy,” the virtue-signaling, the marches for this or that, and the insistence on bending the arc of history toward social justice are baked into the cake that the Left demands you provide for it, on pain of destroying your business.