Helping the Democratic Party By Criticizing Some of Their Unpopular Ideas

meeting room

I spend way too much of my life in meetings at work. A few are somewhat productive; most accomplish nothing. Far too many of my co-workers seem to regard meetings as indispensable. For some, it is probably about the unthinking acceptance of tradition (i.e., this is how we've always done things). I suspect others are using them as a way of getting their social needs met. And sure, some just seem to enjoy hearing themselves talk. Needless to say, I find most of them to be a waste of my time. That said, I think there is at least one important thing we can learn about ourselves in the context of workplace meetings. When things begin to move in a direction to which we are opposed, what do we do?

I can't tell you the number of times I've been in a meeting and someone put forward something I considered to be a bad idea. Others are quick jump on board and express support for the idea no matter how bad it is. Unbelievably, it sounds like they might be getting ready to move ahead with it. I look around the room with what has to be a puzzled expression, ask myself whether it is worth speaking up, and usually decide that it is. And then I calmly explain why I think what was suggested is likely a mistake. I don't always prevail, but I try when I believe the issue is sufficiently important. I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't. If there is any value to these meetings, being in a position where one can openly question bad ideas before they are implemented has to be part of it.

Most of us are familiar with the dangers of groupthink. We have seen too many situations where nobody dared to express opposition to a bad idea. The idea quickly gained acceptance and was implemented to disastrous effect. Sadly, it seems like we see this happen frequently in a political context. One interesting example, raised in a comment on a recent post about the theory that the far left's embrace of wokeness has been costing the Democrats some elections, was the subject of "reparations." Regardless of whatever merit the idea of reparations might have, the idea itself seems to be politically toxic, rapidly shutting down conversations and potentially leading some likely Democratic voters to move away from candidates pushing the idea. Actively promoting it seems to be a political liability, but it is one of those liabilities that appears to be shielded by groupthink and various social pressures. Few are interested in publicly expressing opposition to the idea. And this is just one of many examples from a political context.

When we ask ourselves how best to protect the Democratic Party from itself, it seems obvious that expressing opposition to some of their bad or extremely unpopular ideas is necessary. It is unfortunate if nobody is standing up at party meetings and saying something like, "I can appreciate where you are coming from with that idea, but I want to caution you that our polling data indicates that this idea is extremely unpopular in several of the states we need to win." But because we aren't in those meetings, we have to look for other means of communicating this sort of thing before it is too late. And yes, I think that this means we will need to overcome our fear of social disapproval.

We have all seen that people who publicly oppose some of the ideas that fall under the woke umbrella are punished for doing so. Regardless of how liberal and humanistic they are, they are characterized as far-right conservatives, anti-humanists, racists, or worse. "You are just providing ammunition to the Republicans!" It doesn't seem to matter that their motive is often nothing more than wanting to see more Democrats elected. They are trying to prevent the party from making yet another costly mistake.

I know this is a silly example, but what I am describing here really isn't that different from how we end up with nonsense like Jesusween. Someone pitches the idea, ignores the 12-year-old boys giggling in the corner, and nobody wants to be the voice of reason who says, "Bro, you can't call it that. Call it anything but that!" But because nobody does, we have Jesusween. How different is "defund the police," the idea that no White person is ever justified in calling law enforcement if a Black person might be involved because this will inevitably result in murder, or countless other scenarios we have seen from the far left?

By way of personal disclosure, I should confess that I have long been part of the political left. Not only that, but I am nearly always to the left of virtually every Democratic candidate who somehow manages to get elected. And so, I think that might mean that I am more closely aligned with the far left than much of the rest of the left. Maybe that's why this stuff matters to me. I'd like to see more Democrats win, but I'd also like to see more liberal Democrats win so that things gradually shift more to the left. This is why I hate to see left-learning Democrats continue to shoot themselves in the foot by pushing ideas that may not be ready for prime-time or presenting them in ways that alienate voters.