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The American people are canceling cancel culture. Dems had better listen


People are really fed up with cancel culture. The evidence is everywhere.

We were watching Bill Maher the other night. Maher is hardly a conservative—he’s been a screaming liberal his entire career. But he was royally pissed off about cancel culture, and so were his guests, and I thought, If Bill Maher is this upset, the Democratic Party is in trouble.

Then, today’s Sunday San Francisco Chronicle had a big cover story about the recall of Governor Gavin Newsom. Much of the reporting was predictable—coastal counties like San Francisco and Los Angeles are heavily pro-Newsom while the Sierra Foothills and northeast California are heavily against him. But the news was that the pro-recall people are finding more support in coastal counties than you would think. This is evidence that Democrats are getting disillusioned with their party’s implicit or explicit support for cancel culture: Even Obama gave a powerful speech in which he severely criticized cancel culture, warning that it threatens the foundations of our democracy.

Talking about all this on Saturday night over seder dinner with my family, it was clear that they, too—lifetime liberals–have experienced a level of exasperation with cancel culture. There have been several notable incidents out here in the Bay Area that are making even Bay Area Democrats—the bluest of the blue–roll their eyes. The S.F. School District’s decision to rename schools named after Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson because they were “racists” and “white supremacists” – the school board vice president’s tweet accusing Asians of using “white supremacist thinking to get ahead” – things like that resonate personally and powerfully among people who see them for what they are: extremist, crazy overreactions from simple-minded people who think they know what’s best for the 99% of the population that’s too entrenched in systematic racism to be able to arrive at sensible conclusions about these matters.

That’s “the nanny state” run amok, and it ties into why so many people are angry at Newsom. From my point of view, the governor did what he had to do to control the pandemic. But Trump downplayed the pandemic and convinced a lot of people that it was nothing more than a seasonal flu, and if you were already getting fed up with the nanny state and political correctness, it was easy to drift into anti-shutdown hysteria. A lot of pro-recall people interviewed in the Chronicle article—like the gun store owner up in the rural Foothills–said how angry they were that a bunch of “San Franciscans” were trying to “dictate” to them how to run their lives.

This is the essence of the complaint, not only against Newsom but the Democratic Party and especially its “woke” fringe, that is driving more and more people into voting Republican. I am convinced it’s why Democrats lost so many House seats last November. People voted for Biden, not necessarily because they were enamored of him, but because they’d had it up to here with Trump’s depravity. But if Republicans can come up with a Trump-like candidate next time who’s actually likeable, he or she could easily be elected, while Democrats see control of Congress slip from their grip, perhaps for years.

This is my fear. I, too, am pissed off about cancel culture. I think it is a cancer on the Democratic Party, and if it’s not excised quickly—very quickly—it will continue to eat away at the party’s vitals. I don’t think it’s too late—but, from my perch in Oakland, I see the social justice warriors licking their chops. They’ve had some victories out here in the Bay Area, they’re charging full steam ahead, and they appear to have no idea how dangerous and damaging their rhetoric is to the very ideals they espouse.

The question for them is, would you rather be 100% virtuous but lose election after election, or can you compromise on some of your ideals and actually win elections? The cancel culturalists have decided to take the former path. I, for one, intend to fight them with all my strength. I’m not going to turn into a Republican. Instead, I’m going to do my part to heal the party of my parents and grandparents, the Democratic Party, and restore it to what it once was and will again be: the party of compassion and common sense.

  1. Claire Lomax says:

    Makes me think of Thomas Frank’s LISTEN LIBERAL. My ‘liberal, progressive’ friends won’t hear of any perspective but their own. True believers of any stripe are the opposite of liberal or progressive IMHO.

  2. leslie landberg says:

    I’m a left-leaning person myself and the politics of the Democratic party has had me scratching my head for a long time. If Obama, who oversaw the most intrusive wire-tapping by our own government against its civilians, who went after journalists and government whistleblowers with such zeal, that he advocated harsh jail sentences, and who blithely ordered the extrajudicial assassination of several Americans on foreign soil, declares that woke politics threatens the underpinnings of our democracy, well smack me with a wet haddock and call me Susan, it MUST be true. And if we have learned anything from the past, it is that the Democratic party never misses an opportunity to seize defeat from the jaws of victory. If politics is a dance, they have two left feet. I would love to see any indication that the party acknowledges what’s good for it and is willing to represent and support what the people truly want, rather than its own warped and narrow interests.

  3. Bob Rossi says:

    “The question for them is, would you rather be 100% virtuous but lose election after election, or can you compromise on some of your ideals and actually win elections? ”

    I think the latter is what the national Democrats did in November, and it worked. Hopefully they will learn from that.

  4. I hope so too!

  5. Leslie/Susan, I share some of your outrage but not all. Do you have the same level of anger toward the republican party? I hope so. I blame ELEMENTS within the Democratic Party for cancel culture, not the party itself. I don’t think most Democrats in the Congress, or President Biden, are cancel culturists. Clearly, we here in Oakland are suffering from cancel culturists in local government, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater!

  6. I agree. I have long argued that it is the extremists on BOTH sides–left and right–that are fracturing our country. I also have argued that the republican party is far, far more disgusting and dangerous than the Democratic Party. Nobody is perfect, and there’s no such thing as a perfect political party. We must make a choice which to support, and then try to bring about change from the inside. Which is what you, Claire, and I are trying to do with our new Coalition in Oakland.

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