Our political world is changing. There has been evidence of this for quite some time. But a recent cartoon has dramatically illustrated this change.
My wife grew up in Florida and in her home town she never knew a Republican. She and her family were southern Democrats – which meant conservative common folks who believed in hard work and expected the government to protect them from criminals and foreign powers. They hoped the government would look out for “the little people.”
In 1995 these same Democrats formed the Blue Dog Coalition. The term “Blue Dog Democrat” is credited to Texas Democratic representative Peter Geren, who later joined the Bush Administration. The term is said to have been cited by members because “when dogs are not let into the house, they stay outside in the cold and turn blue.”
In 2008 this coalition had 59 members. At that time, they were a powerful force in Congress as evidenced by their influence which removed the “public option” from the new healthcare bill now known as ObamaCare. But the coalition suffered serious losses in the 2010 midterm elections, losing over half of its seats to Republican challengers. Today, the coalition has only 19 members and their influence has likewise declined.
This shift in the Democratic Party has been happening for a long time. President Ronald Reagan, a lifelong Democrat who switched to the Republican Party famously said, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.” But apparently it has gotten much worse. In a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, Colin Wright, a life-long Democrat expressed his opinion that his party has left him by moving so far to his left that he now believes his views are right of center, even though he hasn’t changed. He dramatically illustrated this in a cartoon which has gone viral on Twitter.
The cartoon shows the political spectrum in three years; 2008, 2012, and 2021. Mr. Wright draws himself left of the center in 2008 where he says he has been all his life. Here is his explanation for the cartoon: “I created the cartoon to help sort out my feelings of increasing political alienation from the left. I’m a lifelong Democrat. I turned 18 in 2003 and have never voted for a Republican. But over the past decade, and especially the past five years, I’ve watched my party distance itself from the values and principles I hold dear.”
“People on the left once viewed free speech as sacrosanct and championed speaking truth to power. Now they disparage open expression as a danger to democracy and minorities. The aspiration of judging individuals by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin has given way to identity politics and “equity’ initiatives that prioritized group interests over individual rights.”
“Women’s rights, previously understood as relating to their oppression on the basis of sex, is now viewed by the left through the lens of gender identity, which gives priority to men who declare themselves to be women. Today’s progressive can’t even tell you what a woman is. The right may be inconsistent in its support of free speech, individual’s rights, and women’s rights, but the left is consistent in its opposition to all three.”
A careful analysis of Wright’s cartoon shows that although his political beliefs have not changed, the movement of the Democratic Party, and progressives of the party especially, has gone so far to the left that Wright now finds his political position is actually right of center. This is consistent with the declining influence in Congress of the Blue Dog Coalition.
Wright mentions that “Today’s progressive can’t even tell you what a woman is.” This was the reaction of newly approved Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. When asked by Senator Marsha Blackburn to define a woman, Jackson answered, “I’m not a biologist.” This is a revealing answer for this progressive new justice. Ironically, Wright is an evolutionary biologist and yet he had received criticism for his biological views. He says, “I am an evolutionary biologist, and from 2008 to 2020 I worked to become a university professor. But while working as a postdoctoral fellow at Penn State in 2018, I found myself ostracized by scientific colleagues and people I thought were close friends because I was unwilling to promote scientifically inaccurate claims about biology to avoid offending those who identify as transgender.”
This is the state of our current political system. Even those who have always considered themselves liberal feel “left out in the cold” by the far-left liberals and progressives who dominate our political conversation. This is an unsustainable situation that truly is a threat to our democracy. When even liberals aren’t allowed to express their views to other liberals without fear of retribution, the left has gone too far. We should all hope for a political correction in the next election.