History with a capital ‘H’

Rich Lowry writes that if nothing else, History has a keen sense of humor.

The notion that History takes sides is a distant cousin to the Marxoid idea that we are on an inevitable path to socialism, and borrows heavily from the (genuine and very hard-won) moral capital of the abolitionists and civil-rights movement. Obama likes to quote Martin Luther King Jr. for the proposition that the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. Whoever is considered on “the wrong side of history” by the Left is always loosely associated with the opprobrium of slavery and Jim Crow.

This means that progressives wield History as a weapon, and make it an occasion for constant self-congratulation. But there is a downside in the accompanying sense of smug inevitability that is off-putting at best and blinkered and self-deluding at worst.

For the Left, History is not a vast, unpredictable, untamable force, but has all the characteristics of a stereotypical Whole Foods shopper. History reads the Huffington Post, and follows Lena Dunham on Twitter. It really cares whether transgender people get to use the appropriate bathroom. History was probably hanging out at the Javits Center on election night, and collapsed into a puddle of tears right around the time Wisconsin was called.

The political dangers of this point of view should now be obvious:

It assumes that certain classes of people are retrograde. Why would Democrats bother to try to appeal to working-class white voters if they are stamped with the disapproval of History?

It becomes a warrant for all manner of overreach. History evidently favored trying to get nuns to sign up for contraceptives they didn’t want and forcing small business to bake cakes for gay weddings...

Now, a president who so confidently associated himself and his cause with the tide of the future has presided over a political wipeout that will send much of his legacy into the dustbin. If nothing else, History has a keen sense of humor.

David French in The Great Progressive Repudiation

This is a direct rebuke to progressive hubris. It turns out that the progressive elite’s preoccupations with identity politics, social shaming, and radical sexual change don’t motivate their “coalition of the ascendant.” In the past eight years, the progressive movement has doubled down its attacks on churches and in recent years directly confronted American law enforcement. It has attacked free speech, the free exercise of religion, and gun rights — secure in the belief that history was, as they put it, on their “side.”

In a widely shared piece circulated days before the election, my friend Kelly Monroe Kullberg asked Christians to vote for Trump as an act of “self-defense.” They did, and in doing so, they have made Democrats face their reckoning for an eight-year-long assault on religious liberty, an assault so malicious that it prominently featured an attempt to force nuns to pay for abortifacients

The electorate might still like the man named Barack Obama, but they don’t like his agenda, they don’t like his allies, and many millions don’t like progressive bullies.


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