(Watch the video for a monologue on this article and an interview with the Conservative Partnership Institute’s Wes Denton on where the left lost track — and how the right can win.)
Democrats’ summer of Black Lives Matter is over. Front-line nurses’ year in the sun has passed. Gone are the COVID cries to evict no one ever for any reason at all. Disparate impact? Never heard of her. It’s 2021 now; we’ve advanced.
These aren’t simple proclamations. Go and read a newspaper from September 2020, and then glance at one from this past month. The political debates are nearly unrecognizable, it’s almost impossible to believe that the same people were often making both policies.
New York City is a leader in world liberalism. For years — and especially since May 2020 — its politicians have mangled their schools, their parks, their police force, and their courts, all in the name of fighting racism. Most of the time, the changes they made hurt blacks more than whites, but that’s beside the point; in liberalism, it’s the effort that counts.
New York City is also a leader of the world’s COVID cult. New Gov. Kathy Hochul says that if you want to serve God, you must receive the sacrament of vaccination. Mayor Bill de Blasio has decreed that all restaurants must see proof of vaccination before service.
There’s the snag: Today in New York City, roughly 72 percent of black residents aged 18-44 have not taken the novel vaccine, meaning now roughly 72 percent of black residents aged 18-44 are banned — banned — from entering dining establishments.
Statewide, 53 percent of black residents aren’t vaccinated, compared to only 44 percent of white residents who have declined the shots; yet this week, the state’s governor announced she would use the powers of this unending emergency to fire and replace as many as 72,000 health workers for refusing the vaccine.
In New York City, health-care workers were lauded as both heroes and COVID experts just weeks ago. Most of those workers are women, a plurality are black, and now, thousands of them might be out of jobs. The hospital system never collapsed due to COVID, but it might collapse due to Hochul’s measures to fight it.
New York City is not alone in reversing course: Down south in Florida earlier this month, one apartment owner promised to evict any tenants who decline the vaccine. It’s unsafe to be near the unclean, he said. So black mother Jasmine Erby and her two children were given the boot.
“There was no loophole, no working with me, no extensions and I literally had to walk away,” Irby told Fox News. “It was either get the shot or get out.”
What a difference 12 months makes. Over the course of 70 years, the Democratic Party grew from the party of segregation that Martin Luther King Jr. marched against to the party that commands 90 percent of black votes.
In the summer of 2020, the desires of black Americans were the sole obsession of the Democratic Party. Remember all those doctors and public health officials signing a letter that claimed protesting against racism was the sole valid justification for ignoring stay-at-home orders? And now they seem to want to throw all that away — all sacrificed at the altar of Covid hysteria.
Political History Can Help Explain What’s Going On
But while that might explain what, it doesn’t explain why, so what more is at play here? The answer might be found in the same history that transformed the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln into the Republican Party of Richard Nixon. That transformation is the story of business — and class.
The 1950s and 1960s Republicans never decided they didn’t like black people, despite what liberals might claim. In 2021, Democrats didn’t either, despite those viral accusations that “Democrats are the real racists!” Rather, the parties changed in other ways.
By the Civil War, the major parties were regional. Their makeup wasn’t just based on ideology, but also class and religion and what faction you were a part of. If your city’s ruling political machine was Democratic and you were opposed to them, then you might be a Republican no matter what your ideology was, and the same could happen in the other direction too.
That’s why, if you went to Young Americans for Freedom’s 1961 Rally Against Global Communism at Madison Square Garden, you saw both Republicans and conservative Democrats. That’s why the 20th century had a long tradition of “liberal Republicans,” from Thomas Dewey to Nelson Rockefeller and George Romney, all the way to Mitt Romney.
If you lived in the North, or were black, you were very likely a member of the GOP; and if you lived in the South and were also white, you were very likely a Democrat. Industry in the North, agriculture in the South — the two regions had differing economic interests, different cultures. It would take a century after the war for these political groupings to begin to change, but eventually they did.
It began earlier, but by the time Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was president, Republicans were firmly a party of Big Business: big defense, big industry, and big manufacturing. With that, their priorities changed, and along with them, their voters. As Democrats assumed the mantle of labor, the GOP positioned itself in opposition to the demands of the unions, and vice versa.
This is a simplification of a complicated time, of course. The role of government; how to combat chronic poverty; law, order, and policing; cynical identity politics — all played crucial roles. But in the end, the priorities of the Republican Party were with one class, the priorities of the Democratic Party with the other.
The Parties Are Shifting Again
Now, that’s changing again. The Democratic Party has become beholden to the Big Business it once hated so much, even at the expense of Big Labor and Big Race. Corporate money is now on their side. Wall Street, Silicon Valley — these centers of wealth chart their party’s path. The technocrats and elites have assumed direct and near-total control.
So the old, lower-class components of the Democratic party go by the wayside. Labor and the Democratic Party used to be nearly indivisible; then, President Barack Obama put environmental activists above them in the pecking order, and the relationship has never recovered. Now, urban blacks are once again being sent to the back of the Democrat bus.
They might get away with all of this. In fact, that’s the exact gamble they’re making. They’re guessing that they can mistreat their old base as much as they want, because they have nowhere else to go and so will never abandon them.
But they could very well be wrong: Populist conservatism — the kind that pays heed to the concerns of the working class — has arrived just in time to meet the shift in the Democratic Party (and Democrats are a little cross about it).
‘Science’ As a Tool of Power
Angelo Codevilla was a brilliant thinker and a wonderful man. We tragically lost him two Sundays ago. Before he left us, he wrote a lot down, thank God. Among them, this bit on the clash between the rulers and the ruled:
The ruling class’s appetite for deference, power, and perks grows… The ruling class wears on its sleeve the view that the rest of Americans are racist, greedy, and above all stupid… The rulers want the ruled to shut up and obey… The clash between the two [sides] is about which side’s vision of itself and of the other is right and which is wrong. Because each side — especially the ruling class — embodies its views on the issues, concessions by one side to another on any issue tend to discredit that side’s view of itself.
Racial politics are not immune to this struggle. Last year, the elites in charge granted themselves “emergency powers” to fight COVID-19. And not once since they gave themselves this power have our elites brooked any question about their right to rule; because now, their absolute power isn’t about politics or ideology: It’s about “science.”
“Science” rules for them. Science aligns with their exact wants and desires at any time. Science serves them, and we serve them too.
“Because ordinary people will pervert reason with ideology, religion, or interest,” Codevilla wrote, “science is ‘science’ only in the ‘right’ hands. Consensus among the right people is the only standard of truth. Facts and logic matter only insofar as proper authority acknowledge them.”
So when did he write that? July? Last fall? Maybe in March 2020? Nope: He wrote that for The American Spectator in July 2010.
Will People See the Truth in Time?
Of course, none of this means the left will surrender willingly. They may be alienating the rank and file of their old base, but they’re doing everything possible to pretend otherwise. Actual working-class men and women are souring on Democrats, but the SEIU, the Teamsters, the United Auto Workers — their leadership is thoroughly bought and sold; they’ve been accepted into the ruling class (and they like it).
In addition, the culture of partisan identity in America (a culture particularly prominent in poor communities) will be a hard thing to change. Go to the country north of Philadelphia, the land that coal left behind, and ask people who they’ve voting for. More often than not, they’ll tell you who their grandfather or grandmother voted for. Go to a black church in my neighborhood, and you’ll hear the same.
Finally, Democratic leadership is loath to surrender black radicals’ demands as a cudgel to keep middle-class whites in line. It’s an incredible weapon: The kind that can make FBI agents — grown men with badges, guns and a monopoly on legal use of force — bend the knee before teenaged rabble.
But change is coming; in both parties. With it comes a chance to crack past the hysterical demands of the “leaders” and into the rock of voting blocs that just recently seemed politically unreachable. A change like that takes the active participation of both parties. Right now, we have it, but if anyone can screw it up, it’s the Republican Party.
Instead of sitting on their hands, they’ll have to be proactive. It’s difficult, but doable. In D.C., even the minority party has tools to defund vaccine mandates. In state legislatures like Texas and Florida, they can back the governor’s executive orders with more permanent legislation.
If Big Business was as smart as it once was, its titans would donate to both parties equally. Instead, they chose Democrats, meaning the GOP is no longer beholden; honest Republicans don’t owe them a thing. This is the opportunity; seize it.