We often hear that “political correctness” is to blame for the left’s failures. Though the fundamental message of the left is presumed to be automatically popular in itself, that appeal is obscured by language policing and the narrowly particular demands of “identity politics.” Only once the left purges its “politically correct” elements will it be able to command widespread appeal.
I agree that a fixation on “political correctness” contributes to weakness and division on the left, but in a different sense: too many of the most visible and powerful members of the left (mainly, though not exclusively white men) are absolutely obsessed with distancing themselves from the spectre of “political correctness” and are willing to publicly and repeatedly throw their ostensible comrades under the bus in the service of this goal. Often, it is these privileged leftists themselves who do the most to draw attention to the “politically correct” actions that they decry, using their public profile — which is often incomparably higher than that of the “politically correct” malefactors who are supposedly ruining the reputation of the left — to air the left’s dirty laundry.
Here it might be helpful to recall that the trope originated on the right as a way of belittling the left. They will never be satisfied with any level of purge of “political correctness.” If we sent everyone who expressed a “politically correct” sentiment to the Gulag, the right would just ratchet up its expectations further and unleash another torrent of “political correctness gone mad” hysteria.
The attempt to gain mainstream respectability and become a “good leftist” by denouncing “political correctness” is a classic Lucy’s Football maneuver. “Maybe if I throw this group of naive but well-intentioned young activists under the bus, I’ll finally have a chance to win over the white working class!” It’s never going to work, guys. “Political correctness” was made up to trap us, and we keep falling for it.