Skip to comments.The culture war is over, and conservatives lost (Face it, Americans no longer agree with us)
Posted on 01/03/2013 12:09:45 PM PST by SeekAndFind
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.
ANYONE THAT SURRENDERS TO THE LEFT IS AS MUCH MY ENEMY AS THOSE OF THE LEFT... SO HELP ME GOD!
I am not a surrender monkey and will continue my conservative values!
Exactly. The defeatists can shut the hell up or get the hell out.
Time to start over and hope we can get a REAL smaller government Party up and running while there is still anything left worth salvaging.
It means the biggest fallacy that self-described Conservative politicians has been proven false.
Too many insiders think that elections will fix everything, and that a win in the arena is enough. It never is.
What did the past several decades accomplish in the long term? Very little.
The Left has been dominating culture, and is SHAPING the arena to its own design which favors them.
Anybody genuinely serious about winning is going to do so by culture, or else will continue to see what’s been going on.
Unfortunately, this is a never-ending long term project that won’t see immediate results. Breitbart made a good starting effort.
Not surprised by this. It’s why I said not long ago here that the country has problems that are far too serious to be solved by winning temporary political elections.
Dammit, ladies and gentlemen, grab your balls and stand up and FIGHT! It WILL be over for the USA if you lay down on your backs and give it up to obozo the socialist/communist/marxist/jihadist lover. His followers are many, but WE have our strong numbers as well. It seems overwhelming, to be sure, BUT think of every war battle that seemed overwhelming just before there was a WIN for the USA! We must never give up....the left never gives up....they keep at it until they achieve their goals, for as long as it takes...and we must learn from THEM. Resist, obstruct, delay obozo and his plans anyway you can. Work with like minded people to achieve these same goals, say a prayer along the way and don't stop working until you obtain a victory, one at a time. And it WILL take time...it seems overwhelming and that is why you must keep going and FIGHT! Remember, if our soldiers of wars past had thought as some of us do about overwhelming odds, we would not have won WWII....a daunting, four year war that we kept fighting til we WON. Now keep that statistic/visual in your head and FIGHT! Check out oathkeepers.com, your local tea party patriot group, any Glenn Beck group, Americans for Prosperity...and any other group you may be interested and join and get to work!
GOD bless both of you... that makes three of us!
We can start with the 80+ congressmen who refused to take a bite of the crap sandwich served by Reid and Boehner.
The Communists took control of public education and the media...conditioning and brainwashing of our children 24/7/365. Worked like a charm.
And I bet I can quickly find a thread on FR extolling the virtues of 24 or CSI or some other disgusting TV show.
Include me..that makes four
A spiritual awakening, a move of God’s Holy Spirit, is what we need.
God is moving in other lands, and perhaps someday they’ll send Christian missionaries to America.
I have read about Muslims turning to Christ, as well as Buddhists in China.
Followers of Jesus must not lose hope. They also should not disengage from the culture or politics. They should do what hasn’t been done—prayer and devotion to the Scripture...not just in our closets, but in our acts of kindness and loving our neighbors....
Thank you... I needed that badly. Sometimes I forget that we have the two most powerful allies in all of creation. GOD and his Son JESUS!
God bless you!
Despair is a tool of the enemy. That’s a fact.
Here’s this week’s healine front page from Time:
Shocking Time Magazine Cover: After 40 Years, Abortion Activists Losing
Of course, we might be too busy reloading soon after that...
Love is always the answer
Too many people are buying the media line of BS about Obama’s mandate.
The reality is that the GOP holds all 3 branches of government in 24 states and they are growing increasingly defiant of federal government. (democrats hold 13 states) We just passed right to work in Michigan for Pete’s sake and last week the governor placed further restrictions on abortion clinics.
No, the culture COLD war is over.
I’m not sure what your point is. The author is not suggesting we surrender, just pointing out that we can no longer get by defending our positions.
We have to counterattack and take back ground already lost to the enemy.
Recognizing that we are in the process of losing is the first step in analyzing what is necessary to turn things around.
In a somewhat similar situation during WWII, Vinegar Joe Stilwell had to deal with his PR-types who tried to portray the retreat from Burma as something less than a defeat.
“I claim we got a hell of a beating,” Joe told the press. “We got run out of Burma and it is humiliating as hell. I think we ought to find out what caused it, go back and retake it.”
The culture wars is a low level skirmish and one they won.
They are wise to ensure conservatives stay in the low level skirmish with fantasies of winning.
I have seen it in my personal life, and I see it nationally.
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.
We simply got too fat to succeed.
RE: After 40 Years, Abortion Activists Losing
Well, here’s what I want to know... are the number of abortions in this country DECREASING? INCREASING? Or SAME AS BEFORE?
If it is either increasing or same as before, how are abortion activists losing?
POLL AFTER POLL AFTER POLL has demonstrated that ON INDIVIDIDUAL ISSUES, MOST Americans go with conservatives - if ANYTHING, the percentages reflected on those issues indicate an INCREASE on many of them.
It would seem to me that MOST Americans have an issue with the REPUBLICAN Party as an alternative to the Democrats - or at least certain REPRESENTATIVES of the Republican Party.
AND, considering the IDIOTIC show in the Congress by them this week AND the idiotic performance of the majority of GOP representatives who re-elected the BONER who was RESPONSIBLE for MOST of the Republican missteps in Congress recently, CAN YOU REALLY BLAME THEM???
Democrats = EVIL
Republicans = VERY STUPID
Perhaps most people would rather go with evil than with the collection of morons represented by many of the Republican Establishment Drones.
I am 49, female, and have been married to the same MAN, for 25 years. We also do not cheat or carry on. Among the younger people I work with, my lifestyle is seen as quaint relic of the past. Most of them are either terminally single and sleep with whom ever comes along, divorced once or twice, divorced with kids, or with kids and never married, OR, in a homosexual relationship with or without kids, OR, in a faux marriage in which they live separate lives and date other people on the side, with full knowledge of each other’s adulterous behavior.
There ARE no traditionally married couples with over 1 or 2 kids. We are an anomaly anymore. I feel sorry for these people — but they have whatever it is they fought for. Trouble is, it really doesn’t look all that appealing, and many of them have confided in ME that they secretly envy my life.
And I tell them ...It didn’t come easy. Hubby and I fought, but we mended our differences and stayed together. We aren’t rich, we don’t party, our life is pretty routine ...but it’s a nice, warm, loving and secure relationship. Our kids do well. We have savings and a home. I don’t know what else to tell them ....none of them ever seem to want to get off the pot to create a decent life for themselves. They want to wallow in the smut because they like it ... they think it’s cool. They like partying and they like staying out all night and bragging about their exploits the next day.
I guess until it shows its really ugly end, we are going to go through a dark time in America - a morally dark time. I feel all I can do is continue to live the life I feel is best and pray for their conversion. I can’t control them, and neither does God try to either, it seems.
I think it depends on what your definition of “lost” is.
We either have to persuade people that we are right or prove Obama wrong. All economic common sense and history are on our side but Repubs are not making the case in a convincing way. Everything Obama says on the economy is nonsense and Repubs need to point that out loudly, publicly and repeatedly.
You can't even start until you clear the Marxists out of education.
Americans are a very funny lot.
They tell us that they want smaller government and claim that the Federal government is too big. Yet, when the time comes to CUT the federal budget, many start to scream and complain that the programs AFFECTING THEM will be cut. Result: Nothing gets cut.
They tell us that they find Congress UNFAVORABLE. Yet, when it comes to voting, they often re-elect their own congressmen anyway.
Conservatives supposedly outnumber liberals in this country by a huge double digit number. Yet, come election time, a huge number of conservatives stay home.
Praise GOD crip... and of course you are right!
I am sorry that you didn’t get my point but your last two sentences pretty much make me think that you did.
They keep hoping it is true
No need for caps bro.
$10 Trillion buys a whole lot of approval and ‘winning’.
It cannot be paid off. We all know how it ends -in catastrophe.
It’s hardly the time to stray or alight with fools.
I see the same thing, and the statistics overall indicate that what we see is the new normal for the United States in the age of Obama. What most of the people commenting on this thread fail to recognize is that a society without a strong family basis cannot continue very long into the future, perhaps not even for another generation. That is the writer’s point, and he is right.
Brave talk as seen above and references to Jesus ain’t gonna help us!
It also mentioned that Churchill had called for a similar prayer time for Britain during WWII.
This is one thing I can and will do.
The Republican Party ran a big-spending, big-government-loving liberal for President, who invented gay "marriage" on the governmental level and who advocated for abortion rights for over thirty years.
That this candidate predictably lost, since it's not possible to out-liberal a Marxist, and equally predictably carried next to no electoral coattails should not be seen as an indication that we've lost anything like the 'culture war'.
People just didn't trust Mitt Romney. I believe plenty of social conservatives knew that his convenient 'conversion' to social conservative principles was nothing of the sort. The candidate who eviscerated better, conservative candidates in the primary turned into a frightened puppy when it came time to attack someone to his left. We all saw it.
The culture war is fought as much in the soul as it is at the ballot box. It won't be lost as long as decent, right-thinking people are left to stand up for God, who takes a back seat to no mortal law. And Middle America, and the Bible Belt, knows this.
Here is my issue.
I earn a salary and the Government takes it.
I lose about half my income to the Feds and State.
How do I fight when my supposed Representatives and Senators vote for illegals, to take my guns, to steal my children’s future, to make my kids learn Communism, to hate my God, to promote Mohammed, to preach Global Warming is because I lit a fire on Christmas Day...
They are coming for my savings, my income, to up my expenses and to dictate how much salt, soda, shower water or miles I drive via black box. They read all my emails and posting (including this) and listen to my phone calls. They force me into a Government health plan whether I want it or not and they are going after every opportunity to earn money I have.
Defeated, never. Realistic, yes.
When your party is more interested in taking away what little benefits these single-parent families receive in order to preserve the wealth of the top 1% then of course you are going to lose the votes of those people . . . and there's a lot more of them then the 1%.
See my tag line. It’s been there since I joined, shortly after the 2008 election. I knew this would be a long, hard fight. Defeatism is never welcome, but an honest assessment of how to improve our game is a good thing. Many here on FR have contended that the dichotomy between social and fiscal issues is a false dichotomy, that culture and moral/spiritual principles are inseparable from fiscal issues, and that both of those domains are critical to freedom. This is a comprehensive war that is being waged against us, and we must respond in kind. To the extent the author is saying this, it is a correct and helpful assessment of battle conditions.
However, the temptation is to be overwhelmed, to look on the giants of Jericho and just give up. But their strength is finite, and the real universe as God created it and manages it will not support their delusions of grandeur. They will fail. It is only a matter of time, and of staying in the fight long enough to see it happen. To that end, we also agree with Churchill, that we will embrace no peace other than the peace that follows the victory of right and good over wrong and evil. No peace till victory.
“There ARE no traditionally married couples with over 1 or 2 kids.”
My daughter recently gave birth in Utica which is a small city in upstate NY. Several nurses came up to her and her husband and asked if they were actually married. It seems that a married couple is now quite a curiosity in the maternity ward.
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