If you read one thing today, read Daniel Greenfield about Leftism as a brand. He perfectly describes the milieu in which I grew up and in which I live:
The left originally wanted to be seen as associated with the lower class, even though it actually came out of the upper classes. Political activism requires leisure. It’s not really for working people. This created the image of a “dirty” leftist dressed in working clothes.
But without being able to actually organize enough workers as canon fodder in a violent revolution, the way they had in Russia, this image was a dead end. So the left embraced its upper class roots. It became a movement of the glittering people. A moneyed class choked with its own compassion.
And the conservatives were depicted as fat Walmart shoppers, bible-thumpers, gun-lovers, ignorant, inbred, dirty… you’ve heard the list. Conservatives were lower class. Not aspirational at all.
The left was New York and Los Angeles. The right was flyover country. The left was spending more to buy less food and clothes. The right shopped in bulk and got value for its money. The left was always getting a higher education without actually working. The right worked without the education.
This was the new liberal brand. It made liberalism seem like a leisure class with the money and time to pursue its pleasures and its goals while conservatives lived a lower class lifestyle.
Liberalism had become a movement of upper class elites violently hostile to the working class and openly contemptuous of it. That contempt was returned leading to the political disasters of the Democratic Party among white voters, particularly in the south. But at the same time it made the liberal into an aspirational figure.
Colleges became finishing schools for teaching youth the manners and attitudes of a new elite. The political emphasis of the curriculum was the point. If you wanted to move up the ladder, you needed to embrace the left’s way of thinking and living. If you didn’t, you were part of the dirty lower class.
The message was unstated and insidious. It’s embedded as an attitude that the younger generation quickly picks up on from popular culture and then from their education. The path upward lies through the left. The left is the movement of the beautiful and successful people. It’s the future.
That’s the power of a brand. A brand can make a product seem like it’s associated with an elite until in a cargo cult response people will buy that product to seem like members of the elite.
Greenfield goes on to explain what too many of the “cool,” “elite” masses miss, which is that Leftism isn’t just a way of looking and living — it’s a political ideology with very serious consequences that extend far beyond whether Jimmy Chou shoes or Louboutin shoes are more politically correct. Greenfield believes that Bernie Sanders’ rise may spell the end of the “cool” Leftist brand because it exposes socialism’s real face: an angry, resentful old man.
I believe absolutely the first half of Greenfield’s post, which is why I urge you to read it, but I’m not so sure about the second. Judging by what my children have said, the Left has successfully packaged Bernie, not as an angry old man, but as a lovable grandfather. He is socialism’s cuddly and endearing face, a man who only wants the best for you — and who needs 90% of the nation’s wealth under his control to make it happen.