Why can’t the left win elections? This question was raised in Monday’s National Post in a Bloomberg News piece by Leonid Bershidsky. And I think the answer is that it has a loyalty problem.
There are other possible explanations, of course. Including denying the premise and saying it can win, from Justin Trudeau in 2015 to the U.S. Democrats in the 2018 House elections. But as Bershidsky notes, the left is on the ropes in Europe, where among other failures the French Socialist party got crushed by an empty suit named Emmanuel Macron who now seems to be losing to nobody at all, while Germany’s Social Democrats are fading even as their chief adversary, Angela Merkel, does the same.
Meanwhile in North America, Hillary Clinton somehow lost to Donald Trump in 2016 and a smart gambler wouldn’t bet much on Trudeau in 2019, though better him than Jagmeet Singh or what’s-her-name in Ontario. Which makes short work of another alternative theory, that the left is losing due to the calibre of their opposition. Liberals didn’t think much of Ronald Reagan but at least he had charisma. And convictions.
Another admittedly polemical explanation is that left-wing policies don’t work. It didn’t stop leftist parties from dominating politics in the industrialized world for most of the 20th century, but their habit of promising the moon then failing even to deliver green cheese might be catching up to them. On the other hand, whatever intellectual vitality conservatism exhibited in the 1980s, forcing “neoliberals” to embrace markets and discuss civil society, has long since vanished, taking inspiring leadership with it.
Most liberals would reject the possible conclusion that the left is now essentially losing politically to itself, that the “right” abandoned conservatism and stole its adversaries’ big-government clothes. But in that case what do they think is wrong? Why aren’t the Democrats running the table in the United States if Trump is as bad as they claim and, The New York Times assures me, the government shutdown is causing voters pain while Trump’s wall is a fraud?
Ah yes. The wall. Here’s where I think the left has a serious, unrecognized loyalty problem exemplified by their delight in porous borders.