An interesting perspective is offered up by Ross Douthat at the New York Times this week. We all know by now that late night talk shows are the territory of liberals these days and the comics who rule that realm butter their bread with insulting jokes about Donald Trump and anyone else with an “R” after their name or a perceived conservative bent. So this must be helping Hillary Clinton firm up support with her base, particularly in the younger demographics, right? Actually, Ross argues that the endless echo chamber of the Left, most recently personified by Samantha Bee (after leaving the Daily Show for her own gig on Full Frontal) has raised expectations among potential Hillary voters so high that she’s being pushed into liberal positions intolerable to the nation’s more moderate voters. (Emphasis added)
Some of them have better lines than others, and some joke more or hector less. But to flip from Stephen Colbert’s winsome liberalism to Seth Meyers’s class-clown liberalism to Bee’s bluestocking feminism to John Oliver’s and Trevor Noah’s lectures on American benightedness is to enter an echo chamber from which the imagination struggles to escape…
For the left, these are clear signs of cultural gains, cultural victory. But the scale and swiftness of those victories have created two distinctive political problems for the Democratic Party.
First, within the liberal tent, they have dramatically raised expectations for just how far left our politics can move, while insulating many liberals from the harsh realities of political disagreement in a sprawling, 300-plus million person republic. Among millennials, especially, there’s a growing constituency for whom right-wing ideas are so alien or triggering, left-wing orthodoxy so pervasive and unquestioned, that supporting a candidate like Hillary Clinton looks like a needless form of compromise.
Douthat goes on to point out that any failure of Clinton to lurch immediately to the far left is seen as a shortcoming and it weakens enthusiasm to go out and vote for her. But even more to the point, there’s still a large segment of the nation who may not be Bible toting southern conservatives, but are still not comfortable with all of the positions taken by the far left. In a strange way, with liberals so dominant on every channel of the cable box, voting Republican is suddenly becoming an “act of rebellion.”
At the same time, outside the liberal tent, the feeling of being suffocated by the left’s cultural dominance is turning voting Republican into an act of cultural rebellion — which may be one reason the Obama years, so good for liberalism in the culture, have seen sharp G.O.P. gains at every level of the country’s government.
I know what some of our long time readers are thinking here. What are you doing trashing Samantha Bee? Aren’t you a fan?
Well, in a way. Probably because I did that one segment on The Daily Show with her. She’s a lovely person and very congenial. But as I already wrote recently, I stopped watching her new show after only a few weeks. I suppose it was for the same reasons that Ross is describing in his article though I didn’t express my feelings from that perspective. It’s all just too much. There is no real comedy left to speak of on some of these shows… just the same old, stale Trump jokes over and over again.
If anything, this phenomenon has made me even more inclined to vote for Trump, not less. If I need to be hectored by someone ceaseless from a dubious high moral horse I’ll try to round up a few more mothers-in-law.