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One of the great moments in modern history for progressivism is being overshadowed by the left’s obsessive hatred of President Trump. What should have been the most devastating political loss for conservatives in generations appears to have been averted. While progressive policies are being employed, they are not being praised by those progressives and leftists who have been advocating for these measures, simply because the man who is implementing them is Donald Trump.
For many years the right has scoffed at and rolled our eyes every time someone like AOC or Bernie Sanders blathered on about socialism or touted the slogans “healthcare is a human right” or “housing is a human right.” The right has dismissed the concept of universal basic income, the assertion that people around the world trapped in difficult situations have a right to our resources and protection, and the idea that the police wield too much power. The left’s arguments on what is and is not necessary for a free and healthy society have largely fallen flat along ideological lines.
Yet the global pandemic has provided substantial debate material to support most if not all of these progressive assertions. A month or so ago the idea of the government being responsible for literally sending money to every American in order to keep them afloat during a crisis would have been considered madness by the right. But circumstances have forced us into a position where there is no other alternative.
While conservatives rationalize this necessity due to the government itself shutting down a massive chunk of the economy, denying millions the ability to make money themselves, we are witnessing the perfect argument in favor of a guaranteed income.
If the government provided the citizenry with income every month, it could be argued, a crisis like this would have hurt everyone a lot less. The argument that the country simply cannot afford it can be countered by pointing out that the government is doing it anyway, so it must be getting the money from somewhere. This is true as well for universal healthcare and guaranteed paid sick leave. At the beginning of the year a person presenting with COVID-19 symptoms at any job in the country would have been fully expected to remain at work if they could not afford a sick day or an unpaid day off. Much of the retail world has traditionally shunned “calling out” for personal illness.
But today our very view of such a culture is one of disdain and applauded disgust. The progressive argument that every worker deserves paid sick leave is suddenly an appealing argument as millions realize the risks they were taking by going to work sick. Certainly fears of medical bills preventing a person from seeking care could be compelling in a time when we all agree that healthcare cannot be pushed aside. Centralized healthcare, supplies and services have become far less of an absurd and dangerous argument as we’ve watched segmented and silo’d healthcare systems struggle under the weight of this crisis and their traditional profit-based model.
Adequate housing, water, electricity, heat and air conditioning, food and other necessities have moved from the realm of right-leaning conversations about personal responsibility and good money management, to issues of scarcity and genuine need and we’ve all found ourselves looking at those who hoard supplies with disgust. Turns out that food, health, and shelter for all are essential to maintain our own health and well-being
Capitalism has arguably been demonstrated as a cruel and dangerous system for the vulnerable to be trapped under during a crisis. Those trapped on cruise ships, vacation destinations and other countries unexpectedly lost their ability to return home as travel restrictions slammed the door shut worldwide. The concept of a ‘refugee’ quickly included otherwise privileged people suddenly in situations where no reasonable person could sustain themselves and their families.
Watching the police target and arrest people out for strolls at the bold and uncompromising orders of political leaders, and pastors face criminal charges for holding services, has opened up a more universal understanding of unfair and obscene abuses of power by the police under the guise of public safety. It should be easy to argue that what average Americans are facing today, as shocked as we are by them, is what minorities experience on a regular basis, ignored by mainstream society.
All of this is a perfect opportunity for progressives to say "Yes, and let's have more of this please." But where are they? Beyond statements on Twitter with unorganized and random arguments by activists and political leaders on the left, there appears to be a major gap in messaging. Rachel Maddow can barely get through a broadcast without demonizing the very policies she once touted simply because they are being enacted by the Trump administration.
Where are the Democratic leaders who were shouting in favor of these issues while running for president only a few months ago? Why has the media not been flooded with stories, advocacy, and promises of a better future by the progressive elite?
There is only one reason that progressive Democrats are not using this opportunity to say "I told you do," and it's because they hate Trump. Absolutely every word that comes out of the mouths of all of these culture warriors, leaders and media spokespersons has been fixated on attacking President Trump.
President Trump’s daily press conferences have consumed the whole of the left. Unable to pull themselves away from reacting in outrage at his every pause, head tilt and enunciation, they cannot look away long enough to see the opportunities before them to evangelize their faith and social beliefs.
They are, in the truest definition of the word, obsessed. What has been fortunate for the right in all of this is a transparency of not only media bias but government incompetence. While every issue above has the perfect universal scenario to support it today, the public has witnessed the absolute inability of the government to protect or help them through it.
Through their work to undermine the President in every way imaginable, they have demonstrated to the country exactly why government cannot be the answer the problems we face, no matter how compelling they may be.
Conservatives too have a powerful opportunity in this time to argue for the freedom independence brings, the power of private business and innovation and point to every failure of government, regardless of the party or person in charge, as evidence for self-sustaining policies.
We have the perfect opportunity to fight for America to sustain itself rather than rely on other countries for what we need.
We can demonstrate the absurdity of waiting for the government to send us money, too little and far too late, to keep our heads above water. We can fight for small government more effectively than ever if we take this opportunity to do so. It may be a golden window while the left wastes their own in their short-sighted and all-consuming desire to make President Trump look bad. Let’s make sure we make the best of it.