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The culture war is over, and conservatives lost (Face it, Americans no longer agree with us)
The Week ^ | 01/03/2013 | Matt K. Lewis

Posted on 01/03/2013 12:09:45 PM PST by SeekAndFind

Late last year, I criticized the notion that Barack Obama won re-election by buying off voters with "gifts." 

In case you've forgotten, many conservatives had sought to explain away Mitt Romney's loss by reasoning that we had finally reached a tipping point where Americans were voting for candidates who supported the welfare state, based solely on their own pecuniary interests. And I argued that voters do want to be given something by Republican politicians: Hope, optimism, and vision.

But while I dismissed that premise, there may be an even larger fundamental problem that should alarm conservatives even more: Too many Americans simply no longer agree with them on the merits.

We should have seen it coming. Back in 1999 — on the cusp of George W. Bush's presidency, and as Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress — conservative leader Paul Weyrich issued a controversial open letter declaring that conservatives "probably have lost the culture war." 

As Weyrich wrote:

In looking at the long history of conservative politics, from the defeat of Robert Taft in 1952, to the nomination of Barry Goldwater, to the takeover of the Republican Party in 1994, I think it is fair to say that conservatives have learned to succeed in politics. That is, we got our people elected. 

But that did not result in the adoption of our agenda. The reason, I think, is that politics itself has failed. And politics has failed because of the collapse of the culture. The culture we are living in becomes an ever-wider sewer. In truth, I think we are caught up in a cultural collapse of historic proportions, a collapse so great that it simply overwhelms politics.

In recent months, it has been especially depressing to be a conservative. In the past, one could more easily endure the ranting of liberal commentators by taking solace that — outside of New York City and Washington, D.C. — most of the country was center-right. Thus, whenever an elite liberal commentator said something fringy, one could always console himself by saying (or at least thinking): "I hope you push that idea, because you'll keep losing elections in real America."

Today, conservatives have made a shocking discovery: They are the ones in danger of appearing out of touch with middle America.

Weyrich, it turns out, might have been a Cassandra. At the time, of course, his letter was criticized by many of his conservative friends, who had, after all, toiled in the trenches for years to elect Ronald Reagan. They were still optimistic that we were on the verge of some sort of permanent governing majority that would allow a new leader to finish what Reagan started. But today, it looks as though Weyrich was quite prescient.

To be sure, his idea wasn't entirely original. Years earlier, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed, "The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society." Years later, Andrew Breitbart would popularize this notion, and introduce it to a new generation of conservatives. But Weyrich was making an observation at a time when it would have been easy to dismiss such reflection as premature — or even pessimistic. (Indeed, many of his contemporaries did exactly that.) 

Predictably, conservatives tended to ignore this inconvenient truth about the culture, persuading themselves that winning elections — and ostensibly passing conservative laws (though they did that less frequently) — were what mattered. (Or maybe it was that they convinced themselves that because they could win elections — because the American public supported their politics — it implied a "silent majority" of Americans were still traditional, salt-of-the-earth types.) 

In the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, Republicans did quite well electorally. Simultaneously, however, our society became coarser, more permissive, less traditional, and more socially liberal. And while politicians won elections, our young people turned to Hollywood for guidance. For every Republican elected, there were 10 films or songs (many of them quite good, actually) selling sex, drugs, and violence. Of course, this all comes down to that clichéd line about the breakdown of the family unit. It's clichéd because it's true.   

Now: In the wake of the House GOP's capitulation on the Senate-passed fiscal cliff bill (which does nothing to rein in entitlement spending), some prominent conservatives are beginning to notice that today's electoral and public policy defeats are a natural byproduct of having lost the culture war.

For example, over at Red State, conservative commentator and blogger Erick Erickson argues, "Republicans should turn their attention toward — family." Erickson quotes Rick Santorum, who, during a 2012 Republican primary debate said:

The bottom line is we have a problem in this country, and the family is fracturing.

Over 40 percent of children born in America are born out of wedlock. How can a country survive if children are being raised in homes where it's so much harder to succeed economically? It's five times the rate of poverty in single-parent households than it is in two-parent homes. We can have limited government, lower tax — we hear this all the time, cut spending, limit the government, everything will be fine. No, everything's not going to be fine. 

There are bigger problems at stake in America. And someone has got to go out there — I will — and talk about the things. 

Democracy, of course, requires individuals who are moral and responsible. Strong families are the cure for much of what ails us. You pick the problem, and stronger families would probably render the solution moot. Consider a recent debate: We can put warning labels on violent games and movies, but that won't replace mom and dad being involved in their children's lives and being aware of what they are watching.

Conservatives have largely lost the culture, and it can't be won back by passing some landmark piece of legislation. Instead, it's going to be a long, hard slog. The good news is that, though conservatives typically hate the term "reactionary," most conservative victory is first predicated on liberal overreach.  

It may be that if things get bad enough, America will finally start looking inward. 

Matt K. Lewis writes for The Daily Caller and co-hosts The DMZ on

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: americans4prosperity; conservatism; culture; culturewars; homosexualagenda; kochbrothers
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To: x

Secession this time would be peaceful. These lazy assed socialist will not fight to keep fly over country bound to the DC plutocracy. These are not your GGGF Yankees.

101 posted on 01/03/2013 4:07:19 PM PST by central_va ( I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Abortion and homosexual sex are only successful cultural initiatives when promoted and subsidized by government.

The culture did not change -it was changed and the change is temporary -the culture is being held hostage by a tyrannical leftist government.

Take away the government promotion and subsidy and the self destructive culture of perversion and death will collapse just as surely as the Berlin wall did.

That is why the fiscal cliff worries the perverts more than anyone else!!!!

Bring it on leftists -either we win and send you back to the cesspool or you win and go bankrupt funding failure -either way, WE WIN THE CULTURE WAR!!!!!!

Survival of the fittest!!!!

102 posted on 01/03/2013 4:10:15 PM PST by DBeers (†)
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To: central_va

They wouldn’t need to. There are enough Southerners who’d fight against secession — or at least vote against it.

103 posted on 01/03/2013 4:21:32 PM PST by x
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To: x
They wouldn’t need to. There are enough Southerners who’d fight against secession — or at least vote against it.

Be nice to find out.

104 posted on 01/03/2013 4:27:12 PM PST by central_va ( I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
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To: DTogo
Not when viewed in county-by-county maps of 2012 electoral results.

If only cows could vote.

105 posted on 01/03/2013 4:27:57 PM PST by Drew68
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To: SeekAndFind
After more than 100 years, the direction of the "left" is coming to fruition. We have reaped what we have sown.

Sad but true.


106 posted on 01/03/2013 4:31:31 PM PST by nothingnew (I fear for my Republic due to marxist influence in our government. Open eyes/see)
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To: Longbow1969
It's like they say in football, "The game was a lot closer than the score indicated."


107 posted on 01/03/2013 4:37:17 PM PST by Political Junkie Too (If you are the Posterity of We the People, then you are a Natural Born Citizen.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Finally! Where have you guys been? It has been really strange to read the posts of FR and see only cast down eyes, heads, and folded hands.

Glad to see you, folks. We fight on.
108 posted on 01/03/2013 4:38:31 PM PST by righttackle44 (Take scalps. Leave the bodies as a warning.)
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To: Lazamataz

“If Obama crashes America, as it looks like he has been instructed to do, the Unintended Consequence will be a return to God and morality.”

Yep. As soon as the economy takes another serious downturn and the bond market stops Helicopter Ben’s free money program, the spending party will be over. The spending levels are unsustainable and always have been, it’s just been a matter of time before it collapsed. Of course, Obama is hastening the collapse.

Eventually the culture will return to some normalcy, once welfare spending is history and people have to build families once again.

The transition will be painful. Hopefully there are enough people who remember what America used to be about so that we can resurrect that ideal once again.

109 posted on 01/03/2013 4:44:04 PM PST by webstersII
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To: SeekAndFind
Years ago I studied societal collapse under a famous anthropologist. His field work was in Africa. As a young American, I had the attitude that it was something that happened to other people. Now years later, the country I love has become a demonstration of what I learned so long ago.

Bottom line is that women pass culture to children. Strong cultures have mothers in the home doing exactly that while fathers by provisioning the mothers and children and leading the family made it possible.

Conservatives have bought the lie of needing two incomes. They bought the lie of “quality time” in raising children. Once that happened it was over. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. The hand that America turned over it's destiny to was the schools, Hollywood and minimum wage “caregivers”.

110 posted on 01/03/2013 4:47:38 PM PST by Varda
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To: righttackle44

Personally I feel a majority of Americans believe
as we do but they will not support a party of
wishy-washy, middle of the road moderates who are
afraid to articulate a position because someone
might not agree with it, thus leaving them dangling
all alone.

We continue on.

111 posted on 01/03/2013 4:56:31 PM PST by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: central_va

They would be willing to hire mercenaries, though, I’d bet.

112 posted on 01/03/2013 5:14:02 PM PST by Trailerpark Badass (So?)
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To: LibsRJerks
You sound alot like me. Married to the same man 38 years, three children all good jobs, married and happy. I too deal with many younger people, people my children's age mid 20's oldest 31, as we have rentals. After years of cleaning up the messes in their lives and my rentals I have almost given up in trying to right the wrong's of bad parenting. The worse the tenant the worst their home life, it is so sad.

Rick Santorum was right, the family is the starting point, but see that is what Marx wanted to destroy, he knew that was the key in moving people away from God and into the arms of communism. Christianity is the only answer, we are trying to do our part in moving the truth of God's word, our website is my tagline.

113 posted on 01/03/2013 5:35:58 PM PST by thirst4truth (
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To: SoFloFreeper
"Followers of Jesus must not lose hope."

SoFloFreeper, an excellent and must read post.

Thanks, I needed it!


114 posted on 01/03/2013 5:47:23 PM PST by hummingbird (Support Hummingbird Migration!)
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To: Jane Long
"I read on another thread, yesterday, about a call for the nation to pray each evening (for at least one minute) at 9 p.m E/8:00 p.m. C. I wish I'd saved the thread link."

I'm in...10 minutes to go. I think I will use the full 10 minutes while waiting.

115 posted on 01/03/2013 6:01:24 PM PST by hummingbird (Support Hummingbird Migration!)
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To: SeekAndFind; GraniteStateConservative

This article is nonsensical and cowardly. The GOP made a conscious decision to embrace big government - not because of Snoop Dog videos or Honey Boo Boo. Proof below:

“Over the course of an hour-long meeting with Ed Gillespie, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, we took great care to give him every opportunity to explain himself fully so that nothing could be misunderstood. The result was a surprisingly frank admission that the Republican Party defines “fiscal responsibility” as increasing the federal budget at “a slower rate of growth” than the Democrats (his words).

We asked him three times to explain why President Bush and the Republican Congress have increased discretionary non-defense spending at such an alarming rate, and why the party has embraced the expansion of the federal government’s roles in education, agriculture and Great Society-era entitlement programs.

“Those questions have been decided,” was his response. The public wants an expanded federal role in those areas, and the Republican Party at the highest levels has decided to give the public what it wants.”

116 posted on 01/03/2013 6:01:43 PM PST by KantianBurke (Where was the Tea Party when Dubya was spending like a drunken sailor?)
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To: LibLieSlayer

I remain the same as 2 years ago, 4 years ago and 20 years ago. I am the same and will not change. America has changed on me...I am not stupid and can see the younger generations are more gay friendly, more brainwashed multiKultural and more liberal. Plus the immigration invasion only gives us more Democrat voters. Asians vote for 0 by 73%

I could care less and remain the same

117 posted on 01/03/2013 6:22:52 PM PST by dennisw (The first principle is to find out who you are then you can achieve anything -- Buddhist monk)
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To: hummingbird; LibLieSlayer

I’m sending the Silent Prayer idea to all on my email addy’s, as well. Thanks for joining in. I figure it’s the very least (or most) we can do.

118 posted on 01/03/2013 6:30:01 PM PST by Jane Long (Philippians 2:11)
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To: x
So, so many things wrong with what you said ... Where to begin?

First of all, assuming he isn't over 150 years old, I'd say he has spent his entire life in a country he hates. But with air fares so low, I have to wonder why he hasn't gone somewhere more to his liking. Sort of like the Bill Ayres, Jane Fonda's and Michael Moore's of the world. If you hate the place so much, "why the f*** are you still here?"

Maybe because the liv'in is easy.

119 posted on 01/03/2013 7:43:48 PM PST by Ditto
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To: dennisw
So what you are saying is that you give up? I am 58 and solid Mississippi REDNECK American. I can guarantee you that when you get away from the west coast and northeast... the younger generation is not all fag loving, welfare state embracing, mind numbed Zombies. Just look at who is still fighting islam... look who is still volunteering... even under an islamic fagot, marxist CiC. There is always hope... study George Washington and you will see that we face NOTHING like he and his generation faced. I will answer the call of Lady Liberty. You give up and stay out of the way if that is your choice. If I misunderstood... I apologize.


120 posted on 01/04/2013 3:10:46 AM PST by LibLieSlayer (FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS!)
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