The 18th century French journalist Jacques Mallet du Pan famously admonished that “the revolution devours its children.” History has shown, more accurately, that revolutions tend to devour their parents.
In the 1930s, Stalin disposed of nearly all of his Bolshevik comrades who fomented and carried out the Soviet Revolution. Under his reign of terror, many of those who were accused of counterrevolutionary activities “confessed” to their imaginary sins and denounced their own bourgeois tendencies. It didn’t do them any good. Most wound up dead. The lucky ones wound up in Siberian labor camps or Soviet mental institutions.
Thirty years later, Mao Zedong similarly purged many of his revolutionary compatriots during China’s Cultural Revolution. Like the unlucky Bolshevik comrades, they too “confessed” transgressions of insufficient ideological purity in hopes of saving themselves, but many met the same fate.
Two leading journals, Politico and Commentary magazine, have noted a disturbing contemporary parallel in the Democratic Party. (There is, of course, a strain of disturbing ideological purity on the right, which has also been a subject of serious and hyperbolic analysis.) Writing about the party’s upcoming nominating process, Politico described it as “The ‘I’m sorry’ 2020 Democratic primary.” The piece details how in the face of the party’s ever more radical base, presidential hopeful after presidential hopeful is preemptively renouncing and denouncing his or her past ideological impurities.
The children of the ideological radicalism that Democratic leaders nurtured because they were politically useful are now turning on them. The far left fringe which could be counted on to turn out at the polls provided their pet identity-politics issues were pandered to now hold the whip in their hands and they know how to use it.
The parents of the revolution – the Democratic establishment – are falling into line. Among the heinous political sins for which many Democratic presidential hopefuls must atone is past support for virtually any sort of immigration enforcement. Immigration positions that were, and continue to be, very much mainstream are now cause for deep remorse and shameful mea culpas.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who recently announced her candidacy while yucking it up with comedian and late night TV host Stephen Colbert quickly found herself explaining some uncomfortable facts about her past to one of the revolution’s commissars, Rachel Maddow. Sen. Gillibrand, who now calls for abolishing ICE, has some skeletons in her closet that she ruefully apologized for on Maddow’s MSNBC broadcast.
Once upon of time (like before she was appointed to fill the Senate seat Hillary Clinton vacated to become Secretary of State), Gillibrand was a House member representing a moderate district in the Hudson Valley. Back then she supported such things as increased funding for ICE and making English the official language of the United States. She also opposed amnesty for illegal aliens and (like her predecessor in her Senate seat) Gillibrand opposed granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.
As her fellow New Yorker, Donald Trump, proved, you can get yourself elected president espousing positions like that, but you sure as heck can’t win the Democratic nomination expressing such counterrevolutionary views. And so, she contritely apologized. “I was callous to the suffering of families who want to be with their loved ones, people who want to be reunited with their families,” Gillibrand said.
Gillibrand is just one of many Democratic hopefuls who are on the hot seat over past positions on a range of issues that are now out of step with the current party dogma. As Noah Rothstein observes in Commentary, “Democratic partisans aren’t merely enforcing ideological conformity on the 2020 crop of presidential aspirants. They’re rejecting the evolutionary process that led to changing attitudes not just in society as a whole but within their own coalition.”
On immigration, there has been no evolutionary process that has moved public opinion in their direction. Most Americans remain firmly committed to the idea that immigration laws need to be enforced and that immigration levels should be moderated. There is just enforced ideological conformity to which Democratic aspirants are obediently conforming.