‘Moderate’ Pitch for Biden Masks the Left’s Tightening Grip

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Help us get rid of Donald Trump and we’ll put the radical leftist genie back in the bottle. That’s the message liberal Democrats and Never Trumpers are sending voters aghast at the witches brew of angry protests, surging murder rates and the vicious cancel culture devouring America.

David Brooks concisely articulated this line in his Aug. 13 New York Times column. First, Brooks assured readers that the allegedly moderate “forces that brought Joe Biden the nomination are far more powerful than a few extremists in Portland and even the leftist illiberals on campus.”

Are voters really expected to believe that a handful of nuts is the reason homicides have spiked by 24% in the 50 largest cities? Or that this same tiny group of apparently tireless and omnipotent agitators is the reason Twitter has become the guillotine of today’s revolution?

Minimizing the problem, however, is essential to his glib solution: returning the reins of power to the elites who ran the show before Trump. Brooks writes: “I’m hopeful that if given power, Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will forge a new conservative radicalism.”

Brooks never satisfactorily defines this oxymoronic concept of “conservative radicalism,” or the policies these four horsemen of enlightenment would pursue that would satisfy wary independents and wild-eyed radicals. “Moderate” Joe has already staked out positions far to the left of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton – and that’s while he’s running for office. If Democrats win big in November, trillions in new taxes, Green New Deal-inspired climate policies and an assault on shareholder capitalism will not define the outer limits of their agenda, but the starting point.

Washington elites ignore these inconvenient truths because of their abiding faith in the power of government and their own wisdom. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they still think they run things. They see the radical left as a frisky stallion they can rein in through compromise and reason when it’s more likely a runaway donkey that is beyond their control because it transcends politics.

The forces that have been unleashed this summer are not simply a temporary response to Trump that will all go away if he is defeated on Nov. 3. They are expressions of deeply rooted ideas that have been percolating for decades.

David Brooks’ own paper illustrates this movement’s vast reach. One example is the forced resignation of his former boss, James Bennet, for publishing an op-ed by a Republican senator that disturbed the sensibilities of woke Times staffers. Another is the paper’s 1619 Project, which specifically seeks to “reframe” American history by arguing the country’s true founding date was not 1776, but 1619, when enslaved Africans were first brought to these shores.

The nation’s leading historians denounced this false narrative, especially the baseless claim that the Revolutionary War was fought to preserve slavery. Despite this authoritative criticism, the Times has not only defended its reporting, but offered the material to schools around the country. It is now being used in at least 3,500 classrooms in all 50 states.

Journalism’s establishment has embraced this problematic work, honoring it with a George Polk Award while giving its lead writer a Pulitzer Prize. It is hard to overstate the sea change this represents, as the most powerful forces in the media have abandoned traditional norms of fact and fairness to pursue an ideological agenda. Instead of holding a mirror up to a complex world, they are trying to change the picture, tailoring their reporting to produce results.

The Times did not invent this mindset. Although we might trace its ascendance to the start of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013, BLM itself is shaped by the radical ideas that have come to dominate academic discourse since the 1960s (which are themselves rooted in Marxism and other older ideologies).

As John Murawski reported in RealClearInvestigations, that movement was launched in 1968 by “a student coalition calling itself the Third World Liberation Front at San Francisco State University” as an understandable effort to expand the study of American history beyond the triumphalist story of great white males. Today, it is a robust program of instruction at public schools across the country that teaches children “how race, class, gender, sexuality and citizenship status are tools of oppression, power and privilege. They are taught about colonialism, state violence, racism, intergenerational trauma, heteropatriarchy and the common thread that links them: ‘whiteness.’ ”

Students are not just graded on how well they regurgitate these ideas, but how they put them into action by creating campaigns for social justice. This movement is putting its ideological stamp on an entire generation. The worldview it promotes inspired the July 4 letter by a group of mostly African American faculty members at Princeton to the university’s president proclaiming that “Anti-Blackness is foundational to America. … Anti-Black racism has a visible bearing upon Princeton’s campus makeup and its hiring practices.” Their demands included the formation of “a committee composed entirely of faculty that would oversee the investigation and discipline of racist behaviors, incidents, research, and publication on the part of faculty.”

So much for academic freedom.

These are just a few of the innumerable examples of the radical ideas gaining traction in America. They are being advanced by far more than a few extremists in Portland, Ore. They are beyond the control of Joe Biden apologists.

Let’s not kid ourselves. This movement is already so entrenched that it will continue no matter who wins this November. The recent boycott of Facebook by more than 1,000 major corporations because it wasn’t doing enough to quell free speech is an especially chilling indication of its pervasiveness.

This genie is not going back in the bottle. The question is: Do we want to empower people who will try to challenge it or those who are facilitating it?

J. Peder Zane is an editor for RealClearInvestigations and a columnist for RealClearPolitics.

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