The ground is shifting?

中国日报网 2017-11-10 11:00



The ground is shifting?Reader question:

Please explain this headline (, November 8, 2017): Tuesday’s elections offer fresh evidence that the ground is shifting beneath GOP.

My comments:

US politics.

First of all, GOP refers to the Grand Old Party or the Republican Party, one of the two political parties in America, the other being the Democratic Party.

Earlier this week, Democratic candidates won in Virginia and other local elections, somewhat surprisingly and often resoundingly.

The headline addresses this fact, opining that for Republicans, the road ahead is going to be bumpy and difficult. Tuesday’s elections are among indications that things have changed – big time, against Republicans.

That’s the idea – big time because the changes are likened to an earthquake.

It is during an earthquake, you see, that the ground beneath us literally shifts, moves and shakes.

Earthquakes, like volcanoes and tsunamis, are major events on earth when they happen – thank goodness they don’t happen so often. They’re so devastating that they sometimes give stricken areas a completely new look.

Well, the new look is one of ruin and devastation but the point is, the effect is huge.

And the point is taken.

Where Republicans are concerned right now, voters are against them. Perhaps after a year of Donald Trump, liberal voters are fed up and are taking action.

Liberal voters, that is, as against conservative voters. Liberal voters tend to vote Democrat, Democrats being considered to be the more progressive party.

The Republican Party is considered conservative, very conservative currently.

Anyways, we’re not going into that. Here are more media examples of situations where the ground shifts beneath or under someone’s feet, usually against them:

1. Arguments by anti-immigration reform pundits against a House bill have degenerated into non sequiturs. Thankfully, more and more Republican lawmakers and substantial interest groups are uniting behind an overhaul effort.

Some of these pundits argue that it would spark a major war within the GOP if the House were to pass immigration reform. But wait: If a significant majority of House members support it, why should these members fear a “war,” unless that war were to come directly from these same pundits? Is the opposition based on the fact that some oppose it? Alternatively, some in the anti-reform club still holler that the House shouldn’t pass the Gang of Eight’s bill. Well, no one is talking about doing so — so what’s the problem?

The anti-immigration crowd is expert at moving the goal posts. First, it objected to the Gang of Eight plan. Then hardline Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) confessed that he’d never agree to any earned pathway to citizenship. When the House refused to follow the Senate model, began formulating discrete bills and considered legalization (not even citizenship) for those other than DREAMers — well, that was no good, either.

But the ground is shifting under the feet of conservatives. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder joins a flock of GOP governors to urge movement:

“To be blunt, we have a dumb system,” he said during remarks on immigration, using a phrase he’d repeat a few times. “Why would we build the dumb system that we have today to say, we don’t want you here?” … Snyder said people who get “bogged down” in comprehensive vs. piecemeal are missing the point. “That’s a case of people looking for an excuse not to do something, rather than getting it done,” he said. “It’s like you’re standing right in front of the tree rather than looking at the forest.”

It’s hard to argue with that conclusion. Not coincidentally, the most successful Republicans (governors), who are likely to fill the ranks of the best 2016 contenders, are virtually unified in their support for a reform bill.

- Immigration reform prospects brighten,, January 28, 2014.

2. This week millions of the religious faithful in America are to be shepherded into the nation's cinemas in order to watch ‘Son of God’, a conventional Hollywood biopic of Jesus Christ that premieres on Thursday.

Coming after last year’s HBO mini-series ‘The Bible’, which garnered 95 million viewers, it would seem a fair bet that this film is pretty much guaranteed to be another hit.

One Texas congregation alone has bought 9,000 tickets.

But such displays of mega-church muscle only serve to conceal how far and how fast the ground has shifted under America’s Religious Right over the last decade or so.

It’s not that America has suddenly abandoned its faith, but more that a large chunk of previously nominal Christians - the Christmas and wedding-only types - have become much happier to declare themselves in the religious camp marked ‘don’t really care’.

After decades when the Religious Right sought to legislate from within as the ‘Moral Majority’, powering the Reagan Revolution, driving the Clinton presidency to the Right on social issues and electing George W Bush, true believers suddenly now find themselves increasingly outside of the US social mainstream.

The faithful argue over the actual numbers, but Ed Stetzer, the president of LifeWay, a Christian research group, now calculates that only about 25 per cent of adult Americans are devout, weekly churchgoers - that means a group of perhaps 40 to 50 million Evangelicals, Catholics and Mormons.

- Focus on Religious Right hides dwindling number of US churchgoers,, February 22, 2014.

3. It could be the leftwing alternative to the alt-right’s Breitbart News – a subversive, humorous, politics-focused podcast that has attracted a devoted following on both sides of the Atlantic.

Last week, Chapo Trap House burst into mainstream US media after a dispute erupted between the podcast’s provocative, hard-left commentators and a stately institution of polite neo-liberalism. In a take-down of Chapo and what is called the “dirtbag left”, the century-old New Republic magazine took issue with a phrase used by the podcast’s hosts as suggestive of a demand for an act of sexual submission by Hillary Clinton supporters.

In a recent edition, Chapo co-host Will Menaker accused – and not for the first time – Clintonist liberalism of being the architect of its own defeats. He issued a command: “You must bend the knee to us. Not the other way around. You have been proven as failures, and your entire world view has been discredited.” The phrase “bend the knee”, was soon interpreted through the prism of gender and identity politics – a realm into which Chapo hosts like to throw grenades.

The contretemps, which was picked up by the Washington Post in an article headlined “The millennial left’s war against liberalism”, might have gone no further had it not defined divisions in the US left that have been growing hostile as the new, young left seeks to strip the movement of its Clintonist, neoliberal influences.

Menaker and co-hosts Matt Christman, Felix Biederman, Virgil Texas, and Amber A’Lee Frost declined a request for comment. But their message has developed an enthusiastic audience of supporters they call “grey wolves”. Chapo subscriptions have grown rapidly, now numbering 16,000 and bringing in $70,000 monthly.

The group, aligned with the Brooklyn arm of the Democratic Socialists of America, met on Twitter, where they gained followers for their offbeat humour and views on what is termed “left Twitter”.

That led to a series of podcasts on the popular Street Fight Radio before they launched Chapo Trap House, named after the Mexican cartel head Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who is currently awaiting trial in New York, and the hip-hop term for a drug house.

John Mason, professor of political science at William Paterson University, says this counter-reaction has been building for a decade. “They are very anti-establishment, and believe neoliberalism as a doctrine has failed, and they want centrist Democrats to acknowledge that it was their failure that destroyed the working class and allowed this atrocity to take place in the White House.”

He adds: “It’s the feeling that the new liberal agenda resulted in a whole generation of young Americans being shafted, locked into a gig economy, loaded down with student debt and no access to healthcare. A reaction has been building against Democrat politicians of the 90s who tried to make a compromise with corporate capitalism and then defined liberalism around cultural issues of diversity, immigration, women’s rights and so on, while riding along with the shafting of the working class.” In a recent edition, Jezz In My Pants, Chapo hosts cited the success of Jeremy Corbyn’s social democratic platform in the UK as proof of the potency of “dirtbag” politics. “It’s the beginnings, or the contours, of something else, like a shaft of light.”

Despite being lauded as the “vulgar, brilliant demigods of the new progressive left,” divisions, expressed along gender and generational lines, are becoming more apparent in the US left.

Mason observes the rise of a social democrat movement with strong green accents around energy and climate change. “Who is the most popular politician in the United States right now? Bernie Sanders! The ground has shifted and this is really the centre of the Democratic party. The people who have been , especially after this defeat, are those who belong to the Clinton-Obama wing. “If Chapo Trap House and its political brethren are the rising stars of Democratic politics, there is also anxiety, believes Mason. “The fear is we’re going to do ’68 over again and that’s the argument the Clintonists will make – that a battle within the Democratic party will help elect a conservative militia that will then, despite being a sociological minority, craft the institutions so they can remain a political majority.”

- ‘Dirtbag left’ takes aim at Clinton supporters, The Observer, July 23, 2017.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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