Leftism has been on life support for fifty years. The Republican landslide in the 1966 midterm election was recognized by everyone at the time as a massive rejection of the agenda and the politics of the left.
The reasons were clear. The War on Poverty produced race riots and idiocies like "Welfare Strikes." Having achieved civil rights, militant blacks were now demanding "Black Power." Affirmative action was so clearly discrimination that there were few serious minds who could coherently defend this vile incarnation of state-mandated bigotry.
The left's approach to foreign threats was precisely as it is today: put in our brave men in harm's way with no discernible purpose other than to make Washington bosses look good; reject waging war to win and instead muddle from failure to failure hoping not to win or to lose; reduce defense spending so that in any future conflict, instead of spending treasure, we would spend blood.
Beginning in 1968, Democrats began calling themselves "Progressives" and scrupulously avoided the term "Liberal." As I have noted often, self-defined "conservatives" dramatically outnumber self-defined "liberals," but less known is that even in the aftermath of Goldwater's defeat, when smug leftists insisted that conservatism was dead, ordinary Americans called themselves "conservative" by a two-to-one margin over "liberal."
The left was sustained not by the quality of its politicians. Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton are such dull minds and slow wits that the worst Republican nominee in the last five decades looks brilliant and wise by comparison.
What, then, has kept leftism alive? It is an imperial occupying force in much of America. Flyover country, largely, is America – particularly the part of America that actually produces the wealth we consume. Leftism is a small minority even in states like Minnesota and Michigan and Maine.
The three pillars are (1) monopolistic control of news and entertainment by the left, with a corresponding collusion against the public interest; (2) limitless usurpation of power to Washington and within Washington to the federal bench, independent regulatory agencies, and executive departments, which buys support; and (3) the creation of a vast taxpayer-subsidized system of pseudo-education and pseudo-research whored into unsavory work corrupting all true education and research.
Gallup recently released a poll that shows that trust in the news media is at an all-time low. Only 8% of the American people have a great deal of confidence in the media, while 27% have no confidence at all, a historic high. The disconnect between Democrats and other Americans is stark: while 51% of Democrats have some trust in the media, only 30% of independents and only 14% of Republicans do. Indeed, the telling statistic is that trust in the media among independents has dropped since 1997 from 53% to 30%, and the trend lines are such that by the next election, fewer than one in four independents will trust the media. Pew reports the same trend but notes that local news is much more trusted than national news.
Gallup also reported last year that trust in the federal government was at an all-time low of 19%, and distrust of Washington was at an all time high of 81%. Pew Research also has trust in the federal government at an all-time low, with only 19% of Americans trusting Washington. It has never been easier to make a broad case against D.C.
The surreally high cost of college and the deplorable failures of public schools afflict everyone except those elite leftists who send their own children to expensive private schools. The arrogance displayed by teachers in Chicago Public Schools – reflected throughout all public school systems in some degree – and the hateful nuttiness of censorship of conservatives in academia mean that this last decrepit pillar of establishment leftism is ripe for radical reform. (Indeed, Donald Trump recently championed charter schools – a good step in the right direction.)
Conservatives and other normal people can be dismayed by the horrific failures of leftism and the costs we all pay for these failures, but here is a better thought: we are winning. We are winning, day by day, on almost every front. The tottering, rotten edifice of leftism is sustained by tired trickery and puerile magic tricks performed by aging charlatans. Their lies infect everything they do. Their failures are impossible to conceal. Someday, maybe someday soon, we will push back, and the left will simply implode. Time, as long as we are confident, is on our side.