Sam Smith – As noted here before, liberals have a tendency to use language that separates them from the very people they should be trying to reach. Two current examples are “defunding police” and “critical race theory.”
You can make an intellectual argument for both, but if you’re trying to get someone elected it’s not going to help. In fact, since both phrases have come to the fore, the media coverage suggests that the right has made more profit out of the phrases than the left.
What’s missing in this liberal approach is an understanding that politics is about getting others on board, not just proving how virtuous you are. As part of this, using good language is important.
Making police departments more effective may include some change in budgets but the important part is to get the cops out of their cars and back into the communities they’re meant to be serving. Or get social workers helping cops on mental cases. Or ending the militarization of the police that treats them as occupiers rather than fellow citizens. Such issues can be discussed without appearing to be an attack on police.
Similarly, critical race theory, which has already proved to be a political disaster for liberals, could have been handled in a much more sensible way. Yes, the history of slavery should be included in education, but just as important are stories of those who won freedom for blacks.
Even more critical – and hardly ever discussed – would be school classes on the multiculturalism of the world, presented not as a crisis but as the natural sorting of human beings. As I have mentioned before, I took what was then one of the country’s two high school anthropology courses when I was in ninth grade, a course that simply described the variation in human cultures. Ninth grade was the perfect time, since it is when one doesn’t think much of one’s own culture.
It was so powerful that out of twenty some Harvard anthropology majors, five came from my school – me included.
Part of the problem with our approach these days, is that we are obsessed with what went wrong but weak on how to make things better. This is a major difference, say, from the driving spirit of the 1960s. As a journalist, I report on the numerous evils of our times, but high on my to do list are also reforms that might work.
This is the way that doctors function. They know what is wrong, but they also come up with ways to make it right again. If liberals had more this skill, they would also do a lot better.