Hillary Clinton’s most recent trip to Iowa allowed her, yet again, to be overshadowed by her husband.
In The Economist, Lexington mused about Mr. Clinton’s ability to define an issue:
Mrs Clinton’s husband has a talent for defining the political issue of the moment, and proved it again at the steak fry. America faces a puzzling problem, he mused in his speech. “We are less racist, sexist and homophobic than we’ve ever been.” At the same time: “We don’t want to be around anyone who disagrees with us.” Put another way, even as some big divisive arguments lose their potency, partisan divisions are growing ever sharper.
Bill Clinton is well suited to the job. After all, he is a leader in a Democratic Party that has done everything in its power to raise everyone’s consciousness of racism, sexism and homophobia. The same party, through its friends in the media and the school system has used the thought police to repress all expressions of politically incorrect thought.
The Democratic Party owes its electoral success to its ability to demonize the opposition. Surely, Bill Clinton was not the worst at this. The current president is. But between raising the threat of racism and denouncing the Republican War on Women, Democrats have much to answer for.
Everyone knows that it is impermissible to express politically incorrect thoughts. And not just in public. If you say the wrong thing in private and if your words are picked up on someone’s recording device, you can be in extremely serious trouble.
This means that citizens of the Republic are no longer honorable people who might have differences of opinion. Failure to toe the politically correct party line will cause others to demonize you, to shun you, to expel you from polite society.
Surely, it involves demonizing the opposition, and, sad to say, today’s Democratic Party has mastered the art. Look at how well it succeeded in demonizing Mitt Romney and in shutting down all criticism of BHO.
This does not necessarily mean that racist, sexist and homophobic thoughts and feelings have vanished from everyone’s consciousness. It means that everyone knows better than to express them in public. Or better, to express them around people who are not known to be like-minded.
We are all living under a threat. It’s not sufficient just to shut up about certain matters. You should not even risk being associated with anyone who thinks differently. If an errant turn of phrase can ruin your life you are likely to be ever-so-careful in choosing your friends.
It’s alright to associate with Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers and Father Pfleger… but there will be hell to pay if you are caught socializing with Paula Dean.
Perhaps it is necessary to tyrannize minds. Perhaps it's what you do when persuasion fails. Two decades ago no one had heard of same-sex marriage. No one had really even thought of it. Now, if you do express your wholehearted support for it, you will be denounced as a near-Nazi.
It used to be the case that gays reveled in the fact that they were not just like everyone else. They were proud to be different. Now, if you do not believe that same-sex and opposite sex marriage are the same thing you will be treated like a pariah.
On this among other issues democratic deliberation no longer exists.
Moreover, teaching people what not to say is not the same as teaching them how to get along with each other. Nothing about the assault on politically incorrect speech tells you how to get along with anyone else.
Multiculturalism militates against getting along. If everyone is speaking a different language, practicing different customs and following different dress codes, the chances for getting along, for connecting are extremely limited.
Bill Clinton notwithstanding, the Democratic Party trots out the specters of racism, sexism and homophobia to rev up its base and to win elections. One would like to see Bill Clinton lead the charge against it, but one doubts that that will ever happen.