In the past year we have seen a rise in the popularity of alt-right politics. From Brexit to Trump, the anti-globalist, anti-progressive agenda has been more dominant than ever. Centrist and left-wing progressive politics is losing. But why? It is, in part, due to the lack of charisma, personality and positive, humorous attitude that the left-wing has. The Left needs charm.
The left is often smug, and unwilling to recognise its flaws. It is generally defensive of its gospel-like beliefs. This makes many people on the left unappealing, unconvincing and unattractive to the ordinary citizen who parties wish to convince and rally to their side.
The left has not always been like this. It has been represented by charismatic, inspiring (yet flawed) characters of the previous progressive neoliberalist era, such as Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. So, what's changed? The modern characteristics of the left have developed as a consequence of the death of progressive neoliberalism - an era where the masses rallied behind strong, political personalities which we do not see today. We now live in a much more negative era, where the left is represented by organisations such as The Young Turks and Momentum. Such organisations have been unable to shake off the image of 'foaming at the mouth' movements of “We are right and you are wrong” which are unable to take a joke or respond calmly to criticism. This cannot continue if the left hopes to win the support of ordinary, working citizens.
On the right however, there is a different approach to things. They have representatives who have the ability to spread the doctrines of the right in a way that makes their messages easily digestible. And they are able to brush off jokes and insults in a calm manner.
One such example is the controversial commentator, Milo Yiannopoulos. Though I disagree with most of what he says, his personality and stage presence is incredibly enticing and fascinating to watch. He speaks very clearly in an almost alluring rhythm that convinces you to continue to listen. He is unrecognisable from most modern celebrities and personalities outside of politics. He also has an ability to confidently say what he likes, and tackle criticism. There is nothing currently like this, that I’ve seen, on the left. His short bite-size videos constantly feature on mine and many others social media feeds. He has become a modern political celebrity stoked by the controversy and toxic ideas that he brings wherever he lands, such as in his recent trip to Australia.
This wave of new right-wing voices cannot be stopped by the droll politicians, ‘wise’ old socialists, record-player celebrities or crazed, wild rebels of the left, and not even Oprah Winfrey could solve this. The left needs personalities, humour and controversy. It needs more charisma and showmanship. It needs to be able to take itself less seriously and take criticism.
We need to take a step back, analyse our problems, view what works for our opposition and create a new strategy especially to take advantage of social media as the right has done. We need our own personalities, our own risky characters, new modern-day voice that normal citizens relate with.