Torch? Check. Pitchfork? Check. Victim mentality? Double-check. Congratulations! You’re all set for your Democratic Party adventure. Bart Simpson’s principal once said, “Ah, there’s no justice like mob justice.” Too bad the Democrats already chose a new slogan, because this one would have fit them perfectly. Whatever a small, angry, leftist mob screams, they scribble it on a post-it note and jam it into their platform. And the more they become the party of fringe groups and phony fringe issues, the more their power will evaporate into the political ether.
This weekend, we can add to that list the proliferation of national anthem protests by grown-ups who are paid enormous salaries to play a game. #TakeAKnee was trending on Twitter, and the progressive Left was giddy over it.
The political Left is the sad little corner of American politics where ninth-grade civics lessons go to curl up and die. Just spend a minute or two perusing tweets from the far-Left, pro-Kaepernick Twitter army. They cite the First Amendment, but they clearly haven’t read it. Here’s a quick lesson: No, the First Amendment does not protect you from NFL rules. No, the NFL doesn’t have to allow these protests. No, the First Amendment is not a magic force-field that shuts down everyone else’s free speech and makes protesters immune to criticism.
The First Amendment does guarantee that Congress shall make no law stopping Kaepernick and Kaepernick copycats from taking a knee during the national anthem and that Congress shall make no law that stops the NFL from allowing whatever speech it chooses to allow. Conversely, the First Amendment guarantees that Congress shall make no law that stops President Donald Trump from criticizing those protests.
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Thirteen years ago, Jake Plummer quarterbacked the Denver Broncos with a small “40” decal on the back of his helmet — a tribute to Army Ranger Pat Tillman who was killed in Afghanistan. The NFL essentially said, Hell no! We can’t let that fly! Plummer was forced to remove the decal. In case you thought the NFL cares about “the spirit” of free speech, it doesn’t.
The NFL has the power to fine players for protesting the national anthem just as they had the power to fine Jake Plummer for a 1-inch tribute to his former college teammate and friend. But they’ve chosen not to. Maybe they think this is the way to Los Angeles’ heart. Maybe they think this will help the L.A. Chargers fill up that tiny 27,000-seat stadium.
Keep it up, Roger Goodell. Keep it up, billionaire team owners. NFL ratings were down an average of 8 percent last year, and, according to a J.D. Power survey, a plurality of those who tuned out blamed Kaepernick and the anthem protesters. I am one of them. I have hundreds of channels, a Blu-ray player, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Pair all that with my identity politics fatigue, and it’s never been easier to change the channel.
The NFL may be on top today, but in the 1950s America’s most popular sports were baseball, boxing, and horse racing. Considering the CTE controversy, the national anthem controversy, the domestic violence scandals, and its lack of international popularity, the NFL’s current dominance feels about as permanent as hipster beards, skinny jeans, and pumpkin spice everything.
According to a YouGov poll (with a very kindly worded question), 85 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of independents, and 34 percent of Democrats disapprove of kneeling during the national anthem. That’s why office-holding Democrats equivocate on the issue and try to take both sides. They want to keep the far-Left, anti-American faction of the party happy, but they’re way underestimating the degree to which their pandering alienates the overwhelming majority of Americans.
This week’s Time magazine cover story asks the question, “Can anything save the Democrats?” They lost the House in 2010. They lost the Senate in 2014. They lost the presidency in 2016. They lost the Supreme Court in 2017. They’ve lost over 1,000 seats in state legislatures over that same time period. They lost all the special elections to fill seats vacated by Trump administration appointees. The GOP is destroying them in grass-roots fundraising. They’re almost certain to lose more Senate seats in 2018.
The reason is simple: Kamikaze politics. They’ve let America-is-the-problem, identity-politics-driven, leftist fringe groups become their voting base. Embracing anti-American attitudes — whether directly or tacitly — is political suicide. Smearing decent, hard-working middle-class Americans is political suicide. Democrats were once the party of hard-hat-wearing, flag-waving, working-class people. Now, they’re becoming the party of ultra-rich elites and leftist mobs.
So “Can anything save the Democrats?” Yes! Stop embracing positions based solely on the volume of the person screaming them. Stop marginalizing the thoughts and feelings of people who aren’t on television, who aren’t millionaires, and who don’t have time for any political advocacy beyond voting because they work all day. Stop branding everyone who disagrees with you as a racist, white supremacist, homophobic, xenophonic deplorable. Stop pretending strong emotions are an acceptable substitute for facts and evidence. And, most of all, stop being afraid to stand up for America!
Eddie Zipperer is an assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College and a regular LifeZette contributor.