Culture Wars

The only culture wars conservatives need to be fighting is destroying the legacy media. We have some pretty strong evangelical, socially conservative voters in the family, and even they are more worried about the fiscal cliff we’re heading off of rather than whether it’s legal or not to cut a fetus out of your body. One thing is clear: The GOP coalition can no longer win, and it’s time to rethink it. Jim Geraghty made a good observation about this election I didn’t think about:

Ari Fleischer points out the silver lining is that so far, Romney is winning independents. That’s not a silver lining, that’s worse news: Democrats don’t really need independents anymore.

33 thoughts on “Culture Wars”

  1. It really boils down to this: free contraception mandates and gay marriage matter more to many Americans than jobs. Republicans could abandon the social conservatives completely, and I doubt that it would help any, unless they are prepared to buy into “What can the government give you to make you love us?” mentality.

    If Republicans can’t win an election under conditions this bad, they can’t win, ever.

    1. Errr, until this election, hasn’t gay marriage lost every time it went on a state ballot? 30 odd times or so if I remember correctly?

      As for the jobs bit, that’ll be self-correcting as soon as the Federal government really starts to run out of money.

      For that matter, the free contraception constituency is necessarily self-liquidating; history belongs to those who show up, not those who refuse to have children.

  2. Don’t look now, but gun rights are part of the culture wars.

    You’re right, though, and I said it last night. We need to focus all of our attention on dislodging the media. All of it. We lost this election because the media did not report the news. They treat job growth that’s less than population growth as a recovery. They treat 1.7% GDP as an economic boom. They treat Benghazi as an unforeseeable accident. It’s not that they are simply biased in how they report what they report, it’s that they don’t report actual, mainstream information that was commonplace just a few years ago.

    And it’s not MSNBC. Everyone knows MSNBC is biased. We need to get off “monitoring” MSNBC for the stupid things they say, because they don’t matter. We need to focus on the major dailies and “mainstream” networks. Something a lot of people miss is local TV news. Sometimes it’s the most biased of all, and it’s also where most people get their news. Yet no one looks at what their bias is.

    1. “Don’t look now, but gun rights are part of the culture wars.”

      But there is no reason at all for them to be bundled with the other elements that usually comprise the “culture wars.” The only reason they are, is that it has evolved that way, and among reasons it has evolved that way is that a lot of the social conservative culture warriors have used gun rights, that they don’t really care about all that much, as bait to attract political support from gun owners, while the warriors put most of their real energy into those issues that are important to them.

      Dozens of convoluted essays with the theme “You can’t believe in the RKBA unless you also believe in [Issue X]” notwithstanding, gun rights have no fundamental relationship to abortion, same-sex marriage, immigration, or the establishment of a national theocracy, except for the question, how big a bundle of issues do you seek to have controlled by government.

      1. So what you really mean is that it’s time to give up on the cultural issues you don’t care about and time to keep fighting for the ones you do. That’ll work. Unless, of course, there’s a mass shooting right before the next election rather than a super storm.

        1. Actually what I mean is two things: One is, focus. The other is, don’t be suckered into supporting things you don’t care about, or in fact may oppose, on the forlorn hope that the one or two issues you do care about may be brought along for the ride. Because nine times out of ten, you are being suckered.

    2. Actually, as much as I hate having my pet issue drowned out in the fiscal quagmire, I think keeping the focus on it is the smart thing for the GOP to do, though, it’s not good for gun owners or gun organizations.

    3. I disagree. While the media doesn’t help, Romney was a crappy candidate. When your strategy to win the election is “Vote against the other guy” instead of “Vote for our guy” you have a problem. Many many people held their noses to vote for Romney, and those were the hardcore guys. The low information voter went for Obama, and that’s why Romney lost.

      1. Another problem seems to be with the polls, including the supposedly higher quality internal ones the campaigns run. I take Team Romney and Obama’s behavior at the end of the campaigns as their polls each telling them incorrect margins, and Romney making a fatal strategic mistake related to them playing it safe after the first debate. To quote Mark Steyn at 11:03 pm EST last night:

        Live Free . . . Or Die

        As disappointing for me as Mitt losing New Hampshire has been the down-ticket races in the Granite State. [A remarkable reversal from 2010, including in the “hardcore plaid-clad North Country towns far from the Massachusetts border”.]

        A lot of the telly chatter is about how Republicans don’t get the shifting demographics: America is becoming more of a “brown country,” as Kirsten Powers put it on Fox. But New Hampshire is overwhelmingly white — and the GOP still blew it. The fact is a lot of pasty, Caucasian, non-immigrant Americans have also “shifted,” and are very comfortable with Big Government, entitlements, micro-regulation, Obamacare and all the rest — and not much concerned with how or if it’s paid for.

        If this is the way America wants to go off the cliff, so be it. But I wish we’d at least had a Big Picture election. The motto of the British SAS is “Who dares wins.” The Republicans chose a different path. A play-it-safe don’t-frighten-the-horses strategy may have had a certain logic, but it’s unworthy of the times.

  3. Well, only good thing in all of this to me is that conservatives tend to be armed while liberals don’t.

    So if the culture wars turn into real wars we have the upper hand.

    Sad that that’s the good news, ain’t it?

  4. The GOP set its future when they decided to openly and willingly screw over the liberty movement. The keys to the future, a movement even Barry Goldwater could not have imagined, was theirs for the taking. They chose the same ol’ bullshit and now they will pay the price for it.

    1. This assumes that liberty has much of a constituency in America. It really doesn’t. You can find people that care about particular liberties: sex; guns; marijuana; economics; taxation. But relatively few Americans are actually in support of liberty as a concept — just the topic that they care about.

  5. “So if the culture wars turn into real wars we have the upper hand.”

    Doesn’t that depend on which way libertarians swing?

  6. At the end of the day, social conservatives don’t have much in common with Gin & Tonic conservatives and certainly not with social libertarians. (Pro-gun people tend to be more diverse than is generally recognized, but those who make it a single-issue voting test do tend to be more conservative.) People’s opinions on fiscal concerns or as foreign policy hawks/doves are generally independent of their opinions on whether science classes should be required to teach Biblical versions of creation, Noah’s Flood and similar faith-based concepts. The GOP war on science is being waged by one wing, while the wing that understands the benefits of science and education to R&D shakes its head.

    As Sebastian said, much of the Republican coalition is united only in what it opposes–various policies of the Democrats–not in what it stands for. That was clear when you saw people like Michelle Bachmann or Rick Santorum lurch (stumble?) forward as temporary front runners in the primary. I mean, Bachmann? Really? Given Romney’s perhaps unavoidable need to pander to the flat earth crowd of voters that doesn’t immediately start laughing at ideas like “President Bachmann” or Santorum, at this point we’ll never know what he really stood for, but the only consistent moderate who even ran, Huntsman, didn’t even get to first base. If that happens again in 2016, expect a similar outcome to last night’s.

  7. We didn’t fight a culture war in this election. We nominated a guy who could, and had, go either way on most issues. Cultural issues were on the ballot in states and I didn’t hear one word about them nationally until last night.

    The problem – and this once again comes back to dislodging the media – is that the Democrats turned meaningless non-issues into a tacit culture war, and the media amplified it for them. Free Birth Control is now a vital social issue? Really? Who even thought about that before the Democrat media complex turned it into issue one.

    I read somewhere today where an Obama guy said something like “We took a Presidential election and turned it into a school board election.” That’s exactly right. Small ball won because his supporters are small minded and easily led.

    That said, the Huckabees of the world sticking by Akin didn’t help.

    1. the Huckabees of the world sticking by Akin didn’t help.

      I don’t think they hurt, either. Or at least I read Akin as being entirely self-centered and ego/meglomaniac, not listening to anyone else in his decision to stay in the race, and that’s what prompted me not to support him, except with my vote yesterday (as I noted in a previous discussion, a proxy vote for Senate Majority Leader etc.).

      Even sent his campaign an email; all that did was put me on their funraising email list….

  8. One thing is clear: The GOP coalition can no longer win, and it’s time to rethink it.

    Bullshit, I say.

    The GOP coalition cannot win with a “moderate” at the top of the ticket. G. H. W. Bush unmasked in 1992, Dole in 1996, McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012.

    The Republican party establishment has been explicitly repudiating Reagan style conservatism since G. H. W. Bush’s “kinder and gentler nation”, with his son’s “compassionate conservatism” splitting the difference just enough to win by razor thin margins.

    Perhaps we should try, just one more time, running with a conservative at the top of the ticket? Can it hurt to try any more than this defeat has?

    (Note that with the rules change at the convention, the RNC will be calling the shots in the next nomination, not the grass roots.)

  9. The legacy media took a small hit this morning; I cancelled my satellite service. On the other hand, the RNC is dead, Jim. Obamaism will never lose to Obama-lite.

    The NRA is on life support. Woefully inept.

    1. The NRA is on life support. Woefully inept.


      This campaign, from the legacy media’s blackout of Fast and Furious to Romney’s related inability to make an issue of it (he did try in the 2nd debate), to Obama not changing his visible position except to reach back to Saturday Night Specials (“cheap handguns”, and that whole bit was the general blather we expect from him on this topic), pretty much kept the RKBA out of serious play in this election.

      Along with the decided lack of visible, significant, on the ground results from Heller and McDonald; even if a new set of Supremes reverses, it’ll make no difference to the majority of us who live in states with sane gun law regimes. Nor can we reasonably expect any gun control actions from the Congress as it is and will be (about the same…). A reversal would breath new life into the RKBA cause, though….

      You might be right about the RNC; certainly without a thorough housecleaning I don’t expect anything good in the future. Perhaps too bad they grabbed the presidential nominating rule-making from the states, then again those state organizations are the ones that in part gave us McCain and Romney as candidates.

  10. Can we succeed if we make gun-ownership and the NRA a component of Identity Politics, so that we get our little grievance-group and political pandering too? Then we could totally rule the other groups! :-)

  11. I don’t know how much more fiscal we could have gotten than a corporate turn-around expert and the head of the House Budget Committee.

    1. I think this was a very fiscally oriented race. My comment about culture wars is that there will be a lot of suggestions the GOP return to those issues. I think if they do that, they’ll never recover from this. I don’t think that wins you a majority.

      1. And yet they still went for Obama. I saw a poll that said that 41% still blame Bush for the current bad economy.

        People are strange.

      2. I’m certain you’re projecting your own cultural liberalism on this (in general, you’re pretty liberal when we get down to specifics); that said, you might be right.

        It wasn’t the major emphasis of Reagan, although there were certainly some elements like welfare … too bad Romney didn’t make a bigger deal of Obama undoing the Gingrich/Clinton reforms.

        And as noted, guns are one of the very hottest cultural issues; one we’re winning, but still very much part of the culture wars. Wars which I’ve noted Obama really isn’t interested in.

        But all that said, if Republicans who aren’t cultural conservatives are going to lose because the legacy media et. al. successfully paints them as such, then why not try if for real? What’s your legitimate fear here, what have we got to lose? Romney certainly didn’t win with his technocratic approach.

        1. I am culturally quite liberal, but I would not suggest the GOP abandon SoCos wholesale. I just think the emphasis needs to be on the issues Americans are really concerned about. I also think we need candidates who can articulate those issues in a principled way, and find ways to relate freedom issues to their values. Big government is the biggest threat out there to family values. Bar none. If that’s not enough to bring SoCos along, I’m not sure how useful they are to the coalition. I also don’t necessarily think the GOP needs to abandon its position on abortion, but it does, I think, need to tame the rhetoric to a large degree. If the word “rape” starts to come out of your mouth in an abortion context…. just stop right there.

          1. But as others have pointed out, the emphasis of Romney was on fiscal matters. There was only one national organization emphasizing social issues…the Democrats.

            The problem is that if you lose social conservatives, it won’t get you enough libertarians to make up the difference.

        2. “if Republicans who aren’t cultural conservatives are going to lose because the legacy media et. al. successfully paints them as such, then why not try if for real?


          Unless I misunderstand you, you’ve just made an argument that I was warned of early-on, have watched out for, and encountered several times over the years; it is, that if you have allowed yourself to be positioned to “have the name,” then you may as well “have the game.”

          I was warned of that in the context of, never to associate ones organization with any “coalition” for which you did not know the backgrounds of all the participants. The examples I was shown were, organizations that signed on to some coalition supporting or opposing some public issue, and later found their names listed, sandwiched between things like the “United Klans” and “National Socialist White Peoples Alliance.” That ploy is used to discredit organizations, and/or to give the disreputable organizations an air of legitimacy or acceptance, while also knowing that some small percentage of organizations thus discredited will decide that [now] “having the name, they may as well have the game.”

          If that’s approximately what you meant — no, thanks.

          I support what I support. If it seems implied that I support something else because of that, and I don’t, I will say so. Often that initial misidentification occurs because I didn’t say so in the first place, and the solution is to denounce what I don’t believe in, before I am called upon to do it in the context of defending myself.

          1. Not what I meant.

            To reify it, let’s say you have three possible candidates, one of whom is culturally conservative (I think that’s a broader term, e.g. I include guns in it).

            All of them will be painted as cultural conservatives (and social conservatives, and felons, murderers, slave owners, etc. etc.). As at least a thought experiment, why not pick the cultural conservative, as long as he’s suitably conservative in other areas (e.g. Huckabee is right out, G. W. Bush almost so)?

            The idea is that if your nominee is going to be successfully labeled by our cultural gatekeepers, why not earn the benefits that go along with him really being that, something his subset of the conservative/Republican coalition will recognize (as just about everyone in those coalitions realized Romney wasn’t, but then again he wasn’t conservative full stop)?

            I’m not saying you should set out to do this, but as long as you let your enemies define you this way….

            Flip side: totally freeze out the MSM. I was reminded in something I just read that in a Republican primary debate, not even disguised Democratic operative wearing a MSM hat George Stephanopoulos was the one who introduced sex into this campaign, and I also remember we soon realized that bizarre, out of left field question was the beginning of a coordinated campaign.

  12. WE LOST. Turn out appeared high. I worried on election day who was turning out. Romney was good candidate and he did well but still lost. McCain was not a good candidate.

    The 2008 electorate turned out for Obama and the 2010 electorate did also and there was more of the 2008 electorate out there. That means that those who voted for Obama are not convinced that conservative principle are good for them or the country. That is a problem. Several decades of liberal thinking in schools have turned out liberals. They used fear and whatever they could to convince the minority targeted blocks to vote for Obama.

    We need to sell our brand and we failed. So back to the basics . Too few conservatives in the schools to teach children why conservatism is the best.

    I went to schools in the 1970’s and I lived in a liberal society. This was the time of detente and trying to remake thinking that discrimination was bad and that appealed to us young humans. I started to read Heinlein and the disconnect jarred me. I finally resolved my thinking and became a conservative. However at that time I was calling myself an individualist not a conservative. I saw that liberalism was very paternalist and that it would evolve in telling us what to do.

    Nanny state behavior is not just a problem in liberal circles. That petty tyranny is normal behavior among humans and has to be fought constantly.

    The basis of capitalism is the concept of private property and what is mine stays mine. Conservative principles flow from that. They also apply to ourselves.

    Many liberals were scared by the religious right that abortion was going to be stopped. I saw that fear being pushed and even though that battle was won 40 years ago it worked.

    Most people see the network or cable news. Most do not read much. Liberal thinking is every where in the culture.

    There was no disconnect to the Philly people about having a mural to Obama in the polling place. They never thought that was wrong. Why? Because the Philly schools are mostly black and they celebrated the black President by having a mural there. The school was the polling place. It was not placed there to influence voters but there every day to influence the kids.

    Some of the best teachers and strongest believers in conservatism and the ideals of America are immigrants from communist countries. Think about that.

    About the defeat and Obama’s win . The anger is real and the desire to make sure the idiots that voted him in will suffer the ills that will come. Laudable but not a good idea. All suffer when civilization dies. Personally I think the GOP should stand firm and let us run over the fiscal cliff. However when a country crashes it usually choose a strong leader no matter how despotic as a person to save them, Stalin, Hitler as examples. So I don’t believe that the electorate will learn from the coming crash. We failed to teach why socialism is bad and just saying that Obama is a socialist does not work and was not believed. They have to know that socialism is not good. We need to teach people what America was about Reinstill the concepts of private property, capitalism , freedom . Unless our generations are taught that , learn when young it is hard to fight against the idea that life should be fair and the government can make it so.

    So Breitbart was right about the culture and how we have ceded that ground to the liberals.

    We need to start earlier.

    The question is how.

    First families are the basic block of strength and they were shattered decades ago. It started in the black communities with welfare and dependency destroying the family unit. Then government schools.

    The basic idea of a man and woman being married and have children and they control what the children are taught. That has been fought against for some time. Gay marriage and homosexuality is trying to destroy the basic unit of man and woman . Abortion destroys the product of the union of man and woman. Children are taught that it is Ok with murdering their own offspring.

    Please note that three states approved gay marriage. That is the war on the church and marriage. That is destroying a basic unit of society.
    Libertarians don’t like the idea that gay marriage is there to destroy marriage. Many libertarian are against marriage. The concept that marriage is a a trap to an emancipated woman has been pushed from the feminists for a while. Men now believe marriage is a trap for them also.

    The culture conflicts are real and not just in the entertainment and arts.

    So the family unit and their power needs to be strengthened. The idea that they control the day care not government paid and controlled. Then home schooling to conteract the public schooling. Then conservatives need to be parents, teachers, in the school boards.

    We can not retreat to a red state to achieve these goals. We have to be in the center of liberal area and thinking. We can not retreat to a separate area. The government will eventually use force. The Mormans tried to retreat and stay separate and they were slaughtered by the government. Morman doctrine is family strength and education.

    They decided to intergrate to a degree and propagate with lots of children.

    Many conservatives are not religious and worry about submitting to an alliance with a Church. They worry about church doctrine over their private lives. But the values the church push are family, individual responsibility, freedom and private property

    So how to we win back dominance over liberal culture?

    1) protect the family unit. That means marriage between man and woman.
    2) Protect against the government day care and schools.

    This is long war we are fighting. Liberal, socialists etc. have been working to destroy capitalism for a over a 100 years. They started over a hundred years with the Dewey idea of public schooling.

    The war on marriage , the current battle over forcing the Church’s to submit to abortificant is a front on this war of the State versus Church and individual.

    I really don’t think most conservatives realize how long this war has been occurring. They are almost ascendent now.

  13. As long as the Republican Party holds a majority in the House, we’ll not see a change of heart, because at the grassroots level, the Republican platform is what people are voting for.

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