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Bayan’s Field Guide to the Left

September 14, 2009

If you’re wondering why our astute and personable president can’t even unite his own party, look no further than this mindboggling mosaic portrait of the left. As Charles de Gaulle once quipped about France, “How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?” America can boast almost that many varieties of left-wingers, and most of them have their own ideas about society and government. Have a look if you dare…

(PC warning: This post may contain blatant stereotypes.)

The Upper Left

The Hollywood left. Fabulously rich, famous and well-connected, they visibly espouse progressive causes and frequently collect Third-World children to affirm their status at the top of the pecking order. Bible-believing conservatives need not apply.

The liberal establishment. Respectable “right-thinking” genteel lefties who thrive and proliferate in the mainstream media and the nonprofit sector. Word of advice: never dispute their beliefs to their faces unless you don’t mind being excommunicated.

Upscale progressives. Affluent, well-educated, Chardonnay-sipping bourgeois liberals who employ nannies and send their kids to private schools. Liberalism for them is primarily a class identifier, useful for selecting the sort of people they’d like to invite to their dinner parties.

Traditional Jewish liberals. It used to go without saying that American Jews stood at least a few inches left of center, but it’s no longer a given (see Neoconservatives in “Bayan’s Field Guide to the Right”). Traditional Jewish liberalism still espouses humane values, sympathy for the underdog , patronage of the arts and collective animosity toward the late Richard M. Nixon.

Bourgeois bohemians. Dubbed “Bobos” by columnist-pundit David Brooks, these pseudo-lefties are essentially shaggy yuppies. Their “liberalism” is a lifestyle choice more than a political philosophy; they dig blues musicians, Tibetan cuisine, hole-in-the-knee jeans, goat-cheese pizza, food co-ops and other crunchy alternatives to the McMansion culture. Harmless and amusing.

Leftist academics and intellectuals. We can thank them (or damn them) for inventing political correctness. These aging ’60s radicals and their ideological progeny can still be found at the campus barricades, guarding the academy against the intolerable heresies of conservatives and moderates.

The Mid-Tier Left

Folk lefties. A polyglot patchwork of vintage hippies, underground journalists, vegans, New Agers, pot smokers, folk musicians, yoga instructors, crystal gazers, organic food buffs and elderly former Reds. Generally mellow, funky and too wrapped up in their subcultures to cause trouble.

The Upper Midwest left. A peculiar geographic concentration of Middle American liberals with ancestral ties to the labor and socialist movements of the early 20th century. Think of  Michael Moore or, in its milder form, “A Prairie Home Companion.”

Mainstream Democrats. Marginally left of center, though not enough to distinguish them from moderate Republicans (except by their lifelong voting patterns and their affection for anyone named Kennedy or Clinton).

Funky capitalists. They own the coffee bars, cozy BYO restaurants, vintage clothing shops, independent bookstores, used record shops, tattoo parlors and other colorful manifestations of hip downtown culture.

Bohemian progressives. They patronize the above. Mostly young, college-educated, geeky (in a cool way) and at least outwardly indifferent to money.

The gay community. Predominantly left of center (especially the lesbians), at least until their right to marry becomes universal. Then it’s anyone’s guess.

Feminists. Militantly pro-choice, frequently anti-male and perpetually angry. Nothing in common with the right, except for the “angry” part.

Educated African Americans. Generally (and somewhat ironically) to the left of impoverished blacks, despite the advantages conferred by Affirmative Action. Why? Unlike poor blacks, many of them have experienced racism (whether real or perceived) as they’ve attempted to cross over into the middle class. Most have developed a missionary zeal for helping their people. And never underestimate the enticements of the left’s “cool” factor.

Environmental activists. They view the world through green-colored glasses and expect the rest of us to do the same. Well-intentioned fanatics.

Community activists. Empowering poor people to fight The Man, whether he needs to be fought or not.

Socialists. They’d spare us from envying the very rich by eliminating the very rich. (Thank you, I think.) On the plus side, they’d also eliminate the very poor. Their philosophy of government: the bigger the better. (Yes, size counts.)

Diehard Reds. A once-thriving movement reduced to a vanishing species, at least in America. You can almost hear them muttering, “That bastard Stalin ruined it for us!”

Secular humanists. Liberal euphemism for atheists. Their theology in a nutshell: “In the beginning man created God.”

Militant atheists. Not content to reject God, they enjoy ridiculing those who don’t.

The Lower Left

Poor blacks and Hispanics. Generally too uneducated and alienated to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, they subsist on perks and promises issued by the left.

Other aggrieved minorities. Native Americans, Gray Panthers, the handicapped, sufferers of little-known maladies, and other specialized groups whose collective grievances garner less press attention than they’d like.

Downwardly mobile whites. Casualties of downsizing, outsourcing and the Great Recession. What distinguishes them from the Angry White People on the right is their burning hatred for the fat-cat plutocrats who got them into this fine mess.

Labor. What’s left of it is still left of center.

Radical Muslims. They’d literally die to see America brought to its knees.

Anarchists. Where the far left joins the far right, way in the back where nobody can see them.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2009 1:38 pm

    Funny article. I’d have to sat I’m a mix of “bohemian progressive” and “leftist academic”, with a little bit of the “red” and “anarcist” thrown in.

  2. September 19, 2009 5:34 pm

    What I don’t get is that my state, Oklahoma, is FULL of most of the categories listed in the lower left. More so than any other group listing, the lower left applies best to Oklahoma. And yet? Not one single county voted blue last November.

    Good list. I’m trying to find myself in it.

  3. September 19, 2009 11:51 pm

    Collin: So you’re one o’ them lefties, eh? No prob. As a professional moderate, I can’t reveal my true opinion of capitalism at this point or I’d ruin my image.

    Erin: I’d think there would be a lot of “Angry White People” and fundamentalist Christians in Oklahoma to account for all those “red” counties. See the Field Guide to the Right for comparison.

  4. September 21, 2009 8:33 am

    Love what you’re doing here. With all the rabid partisan noise out there, it’s high time someone with a little freaking perspective joined the fray.

    • September 21, 2009 12:22 pm

      I appreciate the appreciation, Al. It’s funny — I’m not even a deeply political guy at heart. It’s just that (like you) I couldn’t stand the way the partisans kept slanting the truth to fit their prejudices. I felt this overwhelming need to do what I could to balance the boat.

  5. Taliesin Knol permalink
    January 9, 2010 4:54 am

    “Militant atheists” are cycnics. YOU should now, mock the scoundrels! “Secular Humanist” is the feverd attempt of the polite atheist to convince the right that they have morals. Also, “Radical Muslims” liberal? WTFH?! They are identical in almost every way to radical Christians! (Religous Right) What gives?

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