AMAC Exclusive – By Seamus Brennan
In recent months, a handful of prominent liberals have displayed growing unease at the increasing totalitarianism of the far left—most notably in response to their attacks on free speech, censorship of their political opponents, and a series of media-contrived manipulations intended to sway public opinion. This under-the-radar development could be the first sign that, after years of monolithic uniformity among the left-wing news media, corporate leaders, and cultural elites, the unity of the progressive movement might be—at long last—starting to crack. Assuming the left’s authoritarian streak continues, the progressive movement may soon find that its once-loyal defenders are jumping ship.
For the evidently small number of figures on the left who still value independent thought, this summer’s Mar-a-Lago raid appears to have served as a “crossing the Rubicon” moment that revealed the disturbing extent to which the radical left will go to harm its political adversaries and seize control of every American institution. Though most of the media’s attitude was predictably celebratory following the raid, several high-profile voices on the left warned of the ways it could backfire and further reveal the totalitarian inclinations of the progressive movement.
Talk show host Bill Maher, for instance—an outspoken leftist who for much of his career has toed the line of the Democrat Party—suggested the raid was a “political nightmare,” stating that it is “saving Trump politically” and making him into a “martyr” figure for conservatives. Maher’s statements are particularly significant given his well-established pattern of anti-Trump commentary and considering that the bulk of his audience is partisan Democrats. Notably, Maher has also been critical of the left’s embrace of radical gender ideology and their general “snobbiness.”
But Maher’s statements only scratch the surface of the rising resistance to the Mar-a-Lago incident from a small but influential group on the left. Shadi Hamid, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, a prominent liberal think tank, has also sounded the alarm. In mid-August, he tweeted that he doesn’t “see any plausible scenario where [the raid] ends up being good for American democracy,” stating that there’s “no reason to celebrate it,” going on to mock “liberals’ sudden, unquestioning trust in law enforcement and the FBI” after years of left-wing skepticism toward federal law enforcement. “What grates when a large number of liberals talk about Trump is the unusual mix of utter self-righteousness and blatant hypocrisy,” he wrote. “Those cheering the Trump investigation on would never apply this same prosecutorial approach to their own side.”
Hamid’s concerns were echoed by notable left-wing journalist Sasha Stone, once a self-proclaimed “true blue Democrat” who “voted faithfully” for Democrats “in every election”—including for Biden in 2020. Following the raid, however, she published a widely read blog post entitled “The Raid that Red-Pilled America,” in which she argued that “Americans have seen, maybe for the first time, that our government has become too powerful, too punitive, and too authoritarian in crushing dissenting voices and outsiders who challenge that authority.” She continued: “I am not MAGA. I am not a Conservative… But the red pill is a powerful one. Once you find your way out of the bubble of hysteria on the Left, it feels more like normal life.”
In another widely read piece published this month by the Claremont Institute’s American Mind, a writer who goes by the pseudonym “Liberal Guy” had a message for the magazine’s intellectual conservative readership: “I want to offer my sincerest apologies for your present illiberal treatment by the Democrats, especially progressive Democrats. Your rights as Americans are being violated—in speech and in deed and in broad daylight. If present trends continue, it’s not going to end well for America.”
The writer continued with wise advice for conservatives: Leftists, he said, “are provoking folks who see themselves as American patriots so that they can cast them as domestic terrorists. Don’t take the bait.”
But indications that progressives’ grip on the prevailing narrative may be loosening extend far beyond just the August Mar-a-Lago raid. In one of the more well-known instances of a major public figure distancing himself from the mantras and orthodoxies of the far left, Tesla CEO Elon Musk—a onetime icon of blue America—famously launched a bid to purchase Twitter, stating that the platform’s failure to “adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy.” But he took his comments much further in May, declaring the Democrat Party to be “the party of division & hate” and vowing to vote for Republicans going forward. “Unless it is stopped, the woke mind virus will destroy civilization,” he wrote in a May tweet.
Though progressives of course still wield a disproportionate amount of power in public life, there are signs that even for their own supporters, they have overstepped. Hopefully, that realization will grow rapidly in the months ahead.