Many liberals assert they are on the “right side of history” and discuss history as if it inevitably progresses toward a progressive utopia. This belief forms the core of the liberal worldview. However, it is crucial to recognize that “history” and the social values it is said to generate are not predetermined. A recent Gallup poll indicates that insisting otherwise tends to alienate many ordinary individuals.
According to the poll, the percentage of people describing their social views as “conservative” or “very conservative” has reached its highest point in over a decade, increasing from 33 percent last year to 38 percent in 2023. This noteworthy five-point increase is significant because the figure for social conservatism had remained relatively stable since 2012, when it last stood at 38 percent, usually shifting in smaller increments.
Republicans experienced a seven-point increase over the past year, Independents saw a three-point increase, and even Democrats gained a point. Social conservatism rose by six percent among young people aged 18-29, while Millennials and Generation X (30-49) witnessed the largest increase at 13 percent.
This recent trend toward social conservatism coincides with a time when social issues are increasingly prominent. As the poll highlights, topics such as “transgender matters, abortion, crime, drug use, and the teaching of gender and sexuality in schools” are vigorously debated and receive disproportionate attention in the daily news. The radical positions adopted by Democrats on these issues represent the ideal of a progressive dream society.
Former President Obama is arguably responsible for injecting a hyper-focus on social progressivism into the public consciousness. In 2012, his re-election strategy sought to unite and mobilize “oppressed” minorities and young white progressives into an unbeatable political coalition, referred to as the “coalition of the ascendant.” Even though these demographic groups were among the least likely to vote, social issues were used to motivate them to vote, according to the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.
Since 2012, Democrats and their media allies have aggressively brought these issues into the spotlight, even when their policy preferences often diverge significantly from public sentiment.
For instance, we are told that transgender issues are the “next civil rights frontier,” comparable to the original civil rights movement that successfully tackled racial discrimination in the 1960s. The left insists that young children must learn about transgender issues from an early age to combat “transphobia” wherever it exists. However, a PRRI poll reveals that 65 percent of Americans believe gender is binary, and less than 10 percent feel it is acceptable to teach about gender identity in grade school.
On abortion, Democrats have moved away from the 1990s position of “legal, safe, and rare” and instead embraced abortion as morally acceptable under all circumstances. They proudly proclaim, “Shout your abortion,” even though most Americans hold moderate views on abortion and prefer restrictions after the first trimester, as revealed by an AP-NORC poll.
The left often portrays violent criminals as the real victims of an unjust society. In contrast, crime victims are treated as mere statistics to be ignored on the path to a utopia. The left also argues that drug use and homelessness are human rights that the government must facilitate rather than problems to protect the law-abiding public from. However, Americans express greater concern about crime now than at any other time this century.
Not only are the left’s positions unpopular, but they also defy common sense. One cannot arrive at these conclusions without years of immersion in academic abstractions or relentless consumption of media propaganda. For example, an IPSO study found that media coverage of transgender issues increased by 400 percent between 2009 and 2019, ensuring that activists in the press constantly feed Americans a steady diet of “trans visibility.”
Americans are no longer expected to tolerate progressive ideals that aim to supplant established norms. They are now required to actively celebrate these developments as morally virtuous; otherwise, they are considered on the “wrong side of history,” a disparagement often used by President Obama.
After a decade, the Gallup poll now suggests that progressive elites have pushed too far. Resistance to authority is a fundamental aspect of being human, particularly among Americans with an enduring streak of individualism. Americans do not appreciate being told what they must do or how they should think. They are accustomed to overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles and challenging principles that appear beyond reproach.
Challenging authority has long been ingrained in our national DNA. The spirit led to the American Revolution and the fulfillment of manifest destiny. It facilitated the construction of railroads, skyscrapers, and the most powerful economy the world has ever witnessed. However, it was also the force behind the countercultural revolution of the 1960s.
The baby boomer generation opposed their parent’s generation’s moral and political authority. They had a valid argument to some extent—they sought an equal society that previous generations had failed to achieve. However, they also desired greater personal autonomy and sexual freedom, freeing themselves from strong familial, community, and religious obligations. The baby boomers radically reimagined what constituted the “good life” along these lines and embraced personal freedom.
What was once the counterculture has become the new authority, positioning itself as the natural course of history and marginalizing socially conservative values. This year, it appears that Americans finally realize they have reached their limit. The trajectory of “history” is once again up for debate.