Our friend Anne Sorock Segal and her colleagues at the Frontier Center, who conduct groundbreaking market research that is focused on reviving our American culture of self-governance, have just produced a fascinating study of how Democrats are reframing progressive Big Government as patriotism during the coronavirus panic.
And the leading figure in this recasting of old Democrat ideas is New York’s Far Left Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has adopted what Ms. Sorock Segal calls a “Progressive Patriot” brand in the midst of the COVID-19 faceoff over how and when the country “reopens.”
“I know it is a hyperpartisan environment. I know it is red versus blue. Not anymore. Not when it comes to this. This is red, white and blue,” said Governor Cuomo, thereby casting any opposition to his policies as unpatriotic.
In Sorock Segal’s view, Cuomo in doing so has adopted the three “Progressive Patriot” brand positionings the Frontier Center’s research tracked in their recent study, “Progressive Patriotism“:
Reclaim patriotism for the Left
Reframe progressive principles as the mechanism for American exceptionalism
Redefine what it means to be an American
It will seem counter-intuitive to most conservatives for a brand on the Left to adopt this approach. But, says Ms. Sorock Segal the Frontier Center’s polling found 34% of progressives say they are “very patriotic.”
Progressives also told the Frontier Center’s researchers they are have four values “need-states,” which until recently had not been satisfied by brands or messaging on the Left:
Exceptionalism: I recognize that America is unique because it is committed to progressive principles: both in the past and by implementing them better than other countries for the future
Anti-Elitism: By invoking the Constitution I am identifying a pathway for the everyday person to succeed in life
Community: I support our well-being and solidarity as a people
Peace of Mind: It is right to honor the history of our “ties that bind”
What we found most interesting about this study is that it explains much of the Democrat political messaging during the coronavirus panic and how the establishment media and corporate liberals have picked-up and reinforced that messaging.
One of the most obvious is the ubiquitous message of “In It Together” one sees on social media and on television.
Of course, we are not all “In It Together” because the bastions of the Democratic Party and Progressivism, such as the academy, television, government and teacher unions, etc. are all getting paid during the Wuhan virus lockdowns, while those who are more likely to hold conservative values, such as small business people and the self-employed, are seeing their livelihoods and life’s work destroyed.
Satisfying this “need-state” with the appropriate messaging also allows Democrat politicians and their allies in Progressive media and corporations to redefine Americanism away from our traditional ideas and values of rugged individualism and bottom-up action. Instead, we are invited to substitute an all-embracing Nanny State that will provide safety and community in exchange for liberty.
While this seems outrageous to conservatives, it makes perfect sense to “Progressive Patriots” and completely justifies the actions of dangerous tyrants like Michigan’s Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Kentucky’s Democrat Governor Andy Beshear, who in the name of community and safety have trampled the Constitution with abandon.
Thus, government-imposed lists of what merchants can and cannot sell and which merchants selling the same merchandise are open or closed is perfectly OK. And closing churches and using government decrees to prohibit the free-exercise of religion is justified by keeping the “community” safe.
Democrats have (as usual) quickly identified the messages necessary to extract the maximum political utility out of the COVID-19 epidemic and the associated panic. If conservatives want to avoid having this panic turn into an opportunity for Progressives to move our politics and culture further to the Left, then we must take seriously the lessons of the Frontier Center’s “Progressive Patriotism” study.