Is the left still winning the long game?
In 1998, Balint Vazsonyi wrote America's Thirty Years War, one of the most insightful analyses in decades of the political landscape. He wrote:
For the past thirty years, all aspects of our lives – and all of our institutions – have been moving in one direction: away from America's founding principles.
In short, we were losing.
Fast-forward nearly two decades. Who's winning now? Republicans control (more or less) both houses of Congress, the White House, and most governorships. So which side has reason to be optimistic that things are moving in its direction?
My assessment is that one major development represents a serious threat to the left but that two important trends will leave conservatives facing an increasingly difficult uphill battle.
The most important issue by far is immigration. If we continue to import about a million immigrants a year from third-world countries, conservatives are doomed. Such immigrants are overwhelmingly liberal Democrats who love more government and always will. Would Democrats support importing a million right-wingers into the country every year? I'm guessing not. (President Obama's opposition to Cuban immigration – uniquely – tends to confirm this.) Mass immigration is the issue of our time, as it will change the country in important ways – permanently.
The current trend in immigration greatly benefits Democrats. Will President Trump do anything to slow or even reverse this trend?
The second trend favoring Democrats is the inexorable growth of the entitlement mentality and dependence on government. According to the most recent IRS data available, an estimated 45.3 percent of tax-filers paid no federal income tax in 2015. (It is only an estimate because we do not know how many people file no tax returns at all.) True, most of those 45.3 percent do pay Social Security payroll taxes, sales taxes, and excise taxes, but they otherwise contribute nothing to the federal tax burden that the rest of us have to shoulder.
Non-taxpayers are bad enough, but it does not stop there. Forty-five million Americans were on food stamps – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to be precise – at some point in 2015. The previous year, the Wall Street Journal reported that 49.5 percent of Americans lived in a household where at least one person was receiving a government benefit. There is also bad news on another front. The labor force participation rate dropped to 62.8 percent last summer – the lowest level in nearly 30 years.
What does it all mean? There are a lot of freeloaders out there, and they feel entitled – to other people's money. Consider the majority of Bernie Sanders supporters. They feel entitled to free college. It is hard to convince a person who feels entitled to something that he is not. After all, he simply...declares it as his right. He is entitled to whatever he feels he is entitled to.
Verdict? Another trend going in the wrong direction.
But there is hope in one area: the internet. The major television networks no longer have a near monopoly on the information people receive. This is an existential threat to the left, and the leftists know it. Expect to see attempts to outlaw conservative expression as "hate speech" and to find ways to censor the internet either overtly (doubtful) or in more insidious ways through various regulatory machinations.
If Balint Vaszony were alive today, he would certainly agree that with every passing year, the left advances, and conservatives are fighting a losing battle.
Michael Nyilis is a writer in Ankara, Turkey.