For the left, History isn’t a vast, unpredictable, untameable force, but just like someone who might be standing in line next to you at Whole Foods. History is a board member of Planned Parenthood. It reads The Huffington Post and Vox, and follows Lena Dunham on Twitter.
It really cares whether transgender people are allowed to use the appropriate bathroom. History was probably hanging out at the Javits Center on election night and collapsed into a puddle of tears right around the time Wisconsin was called.
The political dangers of this point of view should be obvious:
It assumes that certain classes of people are retrograde. Why would Democrats bother to try to appeal to working-class white voters if they’re stamped with the disapproval of History?
According to Politico’s reporting, when poor Bill Clinton piped up at strategy sessions and wondered why Hillary’s campaign wasn’t trying to appeal to these voters, he was treated as an embarrassing relic, out of touch with the inexorable tide of the future.
It becomes a warrant for all manner of overreach. History evidently favored trying to get nuns to sign up for contraceptives they didn’t want — and morally opposed — and forcing small businesses to bake cakes for gay weddings. There was really no amount of coercion on behalf of social liberalism History wouldn’t heartily embrace.
And, if History is thought to have an ascendant electoral coalition (and a hell of a data operation), it creates an unjustified sense of electoral inevitably. This is what the theorists of the “emerging Democratic majority,” and most of the pundits on the left, bought into.
Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics has long been a scourge of this thesis, rightly pointing out the allegedly unstoppable coalition was vulnerable to relatively small changes in voting behavior and turnout, and of course larger events.