As 2020’s U.S. Presidential Election draws near, many of us are bracing ourselves for an unprecedented level of spectacle and emotion — and we don’t expect the emotions to be positive ones. For those of us on the left, watching Trump’s ascent was outright horrifying, and for many of us, watching his actual presidency has been far worse.
But I’m not among those who’ve been horrified by the presidency.
The ascent, yes. The presidency’s been different. It’s got signs of autocracy along its outer edges, but in general Trump runs The White House like a traditional conservative. Whereas that’s not at all what I wanted to happen, it’s not the horror show I was anticipating on November 8, 2016, either. Meanwhile, though, many of my fellow lefties continue being trapped in horror. Day in and day out, my mother calls me and says, “Did you hear what the maniac did now?”
Why have my emotions cooled? Because I wanted to figure out why he won. As such, I stepped a bit outside the liberal bubble. That means I stopped consuming entirely liberal news. Already, to be fair, I’d been outside the bubble, as I count a fair amount of conservatives among my friends. This puts me at a distance from most on the left, who tend to find information and human interaction strictly within their own ideological echo chamber.
The problem is, our opponents on the right know that we are like this. They not only know it, they actually count on it. I’m not being cute. This isn’t theorizing, or a thought experiment. As a point of fact, conservatives and moderates tend to consume a mixture of left-wing and right-wing news. As a result, they know how the left thinks. In fact, they have it down to a science.
They actually know how we’ll react to absolutely everything.
Trump knows it, in fact, far better than most. I’ll argue that’s how he was able to win. He kept hitting the left’s buttons, then riling up his base as a result of our completely predictable responses. For example, weeks back, he told the four female freshmen senators known as The Squad to go back where they came from. Right on cue, the left, by way of social media and actual media, started hammering back, labeling Trump and all who support him as racist, and along the way taking several million shots at whiteness. Trump’s base was listening, of course. Trump’s base is mostly white. Right on cue, they grew furious, and got psyched up to win.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
The president had launched his new campaign.
Can liberals stop being so damn predictable? I’m not holding my breath. In fact, in writing this piece, I’m doing exactly what many liberals try to do lately: force others to have a revelation. My liberal friends try to force revelations around race, sex, gender, privilege, and oppression. In brief, they try to force the oppressors to see through their own blind spots and understand their own unearned power. It’s a terribly intense and jarring practice, which is why so many among the privileged — i.e., white people — are preferring to now hang with the right. Most of the left can’t see this, though: can’t see how we’re losing, where we’re blind, how we’re alienating potential political allies…
Here, let me help.
10 Signs You’re Trapped in a Liberal Bubble
- You’re more cause-minded than policy-minded.
This is the big one. You stand with causes, but leave policy to the professionals. Conservatives laugh at this, as they’re way into policy: what it says, how it’s crafted, what it costs, who’s footing the bill. Accordingly, when, for example, a pro-woman policy gets put forward and conservatives reject it, lefties promptly brand them as anti-woman. But it’s not women that they’re against, necessarily (not always); it’s the policy. The cost. The government in general. It’s making the whole population pay for something bureaucratic which, being a product of government, is likely to prove ineffective. It’s not that conservatives are against human progress; it’s that they’re against state-induced imitations of human progress, which they tend to see as fascism.
- You’re scared of conservatives.
They actually frighten you. You see them all as hateful, bigoted, ignorant, toothless, and evil. If asked why any well-meaning human being would ever vote conservative, you not only draw a blank, you outright reject the framing of the question, ‘cause for you, “well-meaning” and “conservative” are a contradiction in terms.
- You have one (1) conservative friend, colleague, relative, or associate, and this individual, to you, represents the entire conservative wing of the political spectrum…
…and you also think that he or she is an idiot.
I actually AM this person for a couple of people! I’ve voted almost exclusively Democratic in my adult life, I live in a multiracial household, I write books and films espousing left-wing values, and I haven’t eaten meat since 2002, yet for some I’ve drifted away from the reservation and am a completely unhinged right-winger. Reason being, I have a mild libertarian streak — the same way some people might have a streak of gray hair. My libertarian streak consists of distrusting many government regulations. That’s IT! Yet it can draw some alarmed, suspicious glares from my left-wing allies.
- You have a cognitive inability to accept or discuss the idea that Barack Obama was flawed.
I get it. I see the same guy you see! Handsome, charismatic, brilliant, sensitive, impassioned, reasonable, iconic, wise. But God forbid I should mention that his conduct as Commander in Chief was often shockingly brutal, or that his immigration policies were virtually identical to those of Trump, and I’ll be quickly branded a moronic apostate who’s completely lost his mind. Look: You’re ALLOWED to not worship a politician, even a super-cool one. ‘Cause check it out: Worshipping ANY politician kind of, um…makes you a slave? (Shrug.)
- You find yourself rapidly advancing toward rage in the presence of right-wing ideas.
Two minutes of Fox News, and your blood pressure’s skyrocketing. To you, these people are the leering, squealing, blue-eyed face of white supremacy. You couldn’t articulate for half a second where they stand on matters of principle, policy, or philosophy, but that doesn’t matter because you’re entirely sure that they’re evil and misguided (and racist), and must immediately be stopped.
- When news cycles that started off making liberals look good end by making liberals look bad, you go from wholly vocal and supportive to completely silent.
Jussie Smollet, anyone? Was that…you…on social media, expressing solidarity with him on Day One but suddenly falling mute a few days later? No worries, bro-sis. It’s because you’re trapped inside a liberal bubble. On that note…
- You censor your honest thoughts for fear of offending your liberal friends.
Think a #metoo celebrity got punished too hard? Keep quiet. Think white people maybe shouldn’t get bashed constantly despite their clear economic and societal advantages? Nuh-uh, stuff a rag in it, right now! Think transgender women maybe shouldn’t be allowed to compete against athletes who were born as women? None of your business, bro; that’s a community that we need to stand up for; zip your lips as fast as you can. Used to be, liberals were the ones who loved and relished the concepts of debate and dissent. These days, we’re the ones who proudly stifle them.
- You think liberals are cooler.
It’s that simple. It’s visceral. It’s sophomore year of high school. You just have the deep, penetrating, impermeable perception that those on the left are cooler, sexier, wiser, and more, well — might as well just say it! — human. As for those on the right? Jeez, what ever happened to them, to make them that way? Good thing you don’t actually know any of those guys.
- You think changing norms in pop culture and mass media are proof of social progress.
As media representation of marginalized groups (rightfully) accelerates and increases, you get the exhibilirating feeling that you’re witnessing deep and lasting human progress. Meanwhile, the systemic injustice that has crushed and paralyzed marginalized groups for centuries somehow doesn’t actually change because the new James Bond is a woman. Still, damn it, THINGS ARE CHANGING, and anybody who’s not onboard with that perception is in a state of derangement, and must immediately be yelled at. More…
- You think you have the right and/or ability to orchestrate systemic change by way of interpersonal bluntness.
In other words, despite your deeply held belief that racism, sexism, bigotry, homophobia, and xenophobia exist on a faceless, systemic level, thus leaving their beneficiaries blind to their true nature, you have no problem whatsoever with reminding those beneficiaries of what’s going on on a one-to-one, person-by-person basis all day long. Even though the true enemy is the SYSTEM, you feel you can defeat the system by spending half an hour berating CRAIG on Twitter. Even though our problems are ENTRENCHED IN OUR CULTURE ON AN UNCONSCIOUS LEVEL, you’re still pretty sure you can bend the needle of progress a little by smirking at your UNCLE NED over Thanksgiving dinner. Y’know, ‘cause the best way to burn down a palace is by ridiculing the busboys.
I’m alt-right, of course (note: that was sarcasm; I’m Jewish; those guys despise me). I’m an apostate, and I’m “missing the point.” Or at least that’s how I’ll sound from within the liberal bubble. In general, all efforts to pop it from the outside are useless. The real best way out is to find oneself getting amply insulted by a comrade, and then start searching for an exit door on one’s own. For even if you did see yourself above, you’re unlikely to admit it — not to others, nor to yourself.
And that’s just what your opponents are counting on, in order to win.