Andrew Breitbart, Theodor Herzl, and the dream that will not die

(Originally published on March 1, 2012. Today is the second anniversary of Andrew’s death. I still haven’t made myself delete his cell number from iPhone.)

I’d like to tell you the story of a great man.  In his youth, he was something of a dilettante.  He attended the right schools, enjoyed life, and didn’t think much beyond the pleasures it could offer him.  And then he found a cause.  A glorious and important cause that would deliver people from being enslaved to hostile societies and big governments.  Once he found his calling, he pursued it with passion.  He wrote prolifically, traveled widely and, most importantly, he thought outside of the box.  He took the vague, inchoate dreams that other men had and, because of his drive and vision, made those dreams a reality.

Living life so hard and fast took its toll, though.  If, as the Bible says, God allots a specific span of years to a man, it’s entirely possible that a unique man can compress those years into a much shorter period of time, in order that he can do what he needs to do, when he needs to do it.  And then this man, having opened wide the door for others dies, at 44 or maybe at 43.

I am, of course, talking about two men, one of whom died in 1904, two months after having turned 44, and one of whom died a little after midnight today, having just turned 43 just a month ago.  The arc of their life stories, however, has a remarkable similarity, and we would do well to heed and honor that similarity.

The man who died on July 3, 1904, was Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism and, therefore, the rightful father of the State of Israel.  Herzl was born in 1860 into a wealthy, assimilated Jewish family living in Hungary.  He was fairly uninterested in his Jewish heritage.  He didn’t disavow it; he just didn’t care.  He was a man of letters, earning a law degree, but working as a journalist.  Life was good, and really that was all.

And then the Dreyfus Affair exploded in France in the early 1890s.  Captain Alfred Dreyfus was an innocuous member of the French military who was framed for treason.  Most everyone knew that he was not the culprit but that, instead, the real malfeasor was another officer.  Following an orgy of antisemitic invective, Dreyfus was convicted on no evidence whatsoever, and send to Devil’s Island where he suffered five years of inhumane conditions.  Moral people in France were outraged at this travesty, and Emile Zola shook the world with his famous “J’accuse” letter published in a Parisian paper.

For Herzl, the Dreyfus Affair was an epiphany.  Antisemitism, he realized, was not a fossilized relic of the Middle Ages.  It was an infection festering under modern civilization, and could break out at any time.  Jews would never be safe in Europe.  They needed a place to call their own.  Herzl’s genius was that he took the European Jews’ abstract longing for a “next year in Jerusalem,” and turned it into a concrete, do-able idea.  Everyone knew that the Biblical Jewish nation had spanned hundreds of years in the Holy Land, and that Jews also had an unbreakable living presence in the Holy Land for thousands of years, from Biblical times to Herzl’s own times.  Herzl took this to the next level:  Why shouldn’t present-day Jews have their own land, a place where they were free from control and harassment at the hands of powerful, antisemitic governments?

Herzl was transformed.  His life had meaning and purpose and he lived every remaining moment with passion and energy.  He wrote, he traveled, he lectured.  He was a happy warrior.  He’d broken free of the thousand-year paradigm that had trapped Jews in Europe, and created a new paradigm, one that saw the Jews as a free people in their own land.  But that kind of passion and fury takes its toll.  Herzl was a blazing comet, but comets, for all that they burn brightly, vanish too quickly.  In 1904, Herzl’s great heart gave out.  He died 44 years before his dream was realized.  But here’s the important thing:  His dream was realized.  Herzl’s life mattered.  His vision burned itself into the hearts of millions of others and resulted in the creation of one of the most dynamic — and free — states in the world.

One doesn’t have to work very hard to see the parallels between Herzl’s life and Andrew Breitbart’s.  As Breitbart freely admits in his delightful Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!, his early life was completely ordinary.  He was a knee-jerk Jewish liberal who grew up in Los Angeles without thinking much about politics beyond parroting the views that surrounded him in his liberal social and educational enclaves.

For Herzl, the Dreyfus Affair was the epiphany that exploded his world assumptions and forced him to look a grave problem in the world and device a solution.  For Andrew Breitbart, his Rubicon was the Clarence Thomas hearings.  As did Herzl, he realized that his society had a big problem — this time with the core problem being the Democrat party that had long been his ideological home — and he started thinking about solutions to this problem.

In the last few years, Andrew’s years of cogitation, combined with his happy warrior personality, resulted in a completely new paradigm.  Rather than adopting the defensive stance that is the norm for the Republican party when dealing with attacks from the Left, Andrew took the war onto the Left’s own soil.

Working with the equally innovative James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, Breitbart pretty much destroyed ACORN, a hard-Left, well-funded group that masqueraded as a meek and mild social welfare concern.  He took the war to the Left’s own turf when Leftists contended that protesters at a Tea Party hurled racist epithets at Black politicians and activists.  Andrew offered $100,000 to anyone who could provide proof that such conduct took place.  Despite the plethora of recording devices at the scene, no Leftist ever stepped forward to claim the money.  And of course, Breitbart brought down Anthony Weiner, giving notice to Democrats everywhere that the “gentleman’s agreement” that the media had with Democrats, an agreement that had successfully protected Kennedy and that tried so hard to protect Bill Clinton, no longer existed.

Andrew changed the paradigm.  He showed that, for conservatives, the fight doesn’t begin and end with stating ideas and hoping that the public figures out that conservative ideas are better.  That might have worked in a pre-MTV world, but in a world with a short attention span, and a Leftist lock on media and education, it’s just not enough to say that one has a better idea.  To give ideas traction today, we need to work actively to show that the opposing party has a much worse idea — and that it’s worse, not only at a purely ideological level, but at a functional level.  On the ground, Leftist ideas are a breeding ground for poverty, racism, corruption, and immorality.  It’s out there. Andrew knew it, and Andrew showed it.

Andrew also believed in redemption.  After all, like so many of us on the Right, Andrew started out as a liberal.  He loved fighting the hard-core Leftists, but he firmly believed that, by fighting them, he could bring them into the light.  And more than that, he believed that he could rouse the sheeples out there, the ones who are as we once were — Leftists by default rather than by conviction — and turn them into true Patriots who love and support the American dream, beginning with the Constitution.

RIP, Andrew Breitbart.  Your short time here was not wasted.  Just as with Theodor Herzl, your dream, your vision, and your drive will live on.

Conservatives should take a page out of the Islamists’ book and disavow bad actors marching under their banner

Mia TalericoA friend tipped me off to the fact that a few deranged individuals have been sending hate mail and threats to an absolutely adorable five-year-old girl who stars on the Disney Channel’s show Good Luck Charlie.  The trigger for this behavior was an episode in the show that saw Disney decide to peddle same-sex marriage to the kindergarten crowd:

On January 26, the Disney Channel made a gentle stride into a more progressive era by featuring its first-ever same-sex couple on an episode of Good Luck Charlie, introducing two lesbian moms who bring their child over for a playdate, then show everyone they’re just like normal parents by not scissoring or establishing a golf pro shop in front of the kids.

Unsurprisingly, conservative groups objected to Disney’s tactic, proving that they’re a bit slow on the uptake here.  As the friend who notified me about the kerfuffle pointed out, Disney long-ago stopped being family friendly, meaning that it no longer stands for the family values in which Walt Disney believed and that were once normative in America.

In the last couple of decades, Disney has been responsible for an incredible amount of brightly colored, highly polished, cheerily-presented trash being streamed into America’s homes.  Small wonder that so many former Disney stars have embraced drink, drugs, and very public sexual misbehavior.  (Hey, Miley!  Is that you?)  Indeed, to discredit once and for all any hint of Walt Disney’s old-fashioned values, big name stars such as the ubiquitous (and, to me, increasingly dull) Meryl Streep have resurrected the old Leftist canard — unsupported by any evidence — that Walt was a rabid anti-Semite and someone so sexist that, even by the standards of the day, he stood out.  All of which is to say that nowadays Disney is just another corporate Hollywood institution staffed primarily by the entertainment world’s Democrat Party fanatics.

But getting back to the hate mail the show engendered.  To the extent people felt the need to protest Disney’s right to preach gay marriage to the toddler set (something protected by freedom of speech, but perhaps not wise as commercial speech), they should have done so by writing to Disney’s corporate office and (a) politely explaining their objections and (b) equally politely say that, because of those objections, they would henceforth delete Disney from their child’s playlist.  Most, I’m sure, did.  At least one person, however, followed the path of derangement:

Now police are investigating some voices who have been making death threats aimed at the show’s star, Mia Talerico. By the way, Mia Talerico is 5 years old.

TMZ first noted that Talerico began receiving death threats on her Instagram feed last month, right around the time the “controversy” broke. According to police reports, these included messages such as “Die Mia, Fucking die in hell! Kill yourself, you deserve to die.” That same suspect also reportedly sent a photo of Talerico’s head covered by a bloody fist and the message, “Yes, kill you stupid bitch.” Again, Talerico is 5 years old, and the star of a Disney show about an adorable little girl that had lesbians on it one time.

My friend commented that there are few things worse than stupid conservatives.  I agree, although I think there are two other possibilities here:  (1) the person who sent those vile threats isn’t politically motivated but is, instead, solidly insane and dangerous; and (2) it’s a false flag operation, run by a Leftist seeking to discredit conservatives.  This is not as wacky as it sounds.  In the past year, I’ve been aware of two instances in which Leftists sent hate-filled material to themselves, once at Oberlin and the other at the University of Wyoming, in order to discredit conservatives and to satisfy their histrionic personality disorders.  (Here’s a list of other anti-conservative hate-crime hoaxes.)

On the off-chance, though, that this really was someone spewing insults and threats against a five-year-old in the name of conservativism, I have the perfect response. Conservatives need to use the Islamo-defense mode. You know how it goes: Some guy hollering “Allahu akbar” blows himself up in a crowd. Lots of people begin to say, “Gee, these Muslims sure are violent.” At which point the apologists in the Muslim community say, “If they’re violent, then they’re not real Muslims.” By saying that, the Muslim community disavows responsibility for the act and, by extension, disclaims any obligation to look at its teachings to see if they could be modified so as not to be an inspiration to perpetual and murderous outrage.

If conservatives were as media savvy as their ideology is realistic and intelligent, their defense here would be, “Anyone this stupid, vicious, twisted, violent, and generally hate-filled, is not a real conservative.”  Right now, we have a habit of demanding that bad actors who label themselves as conservatives should be punished for their bad acts, but it doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone in the conservative front lines to say “That person is not a conservative.”

Doing things the Islamo-defense way means that one never has to look at the ideologies underlying the bad behavior to determine whether the actor is in harmony with the ideology (“Muhammad is God’s apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another”) or acting in opposition to it (“hate the sin, love the sinner”). Indeed, it’s this type of blessed ignorance that allows people to declare that the 9/11 terrorists who killed 2,996 civilians on a sunny morning were Freedom Fighters indistinguishable from the American Revolutionaries who battled the British King’s troops.

Leftists and conservatives view people differently; or, who’s the racist (or sexist or homophobe)?

White

LEFTIST VIEW: Marauder, pillager, imperialist, racist, homophobic brute
CONSERVATIVE VIEW: Human being

Black

LEFTIST VIEW: Victim, dependent on beneficent white liberals for help
CONSERVATIVE VIEW: Human being

white female

LEFTIST VIEW: Victim, dependent on beneficent white liberals for help
CONSERVATIVE VIEW: Human being

black female

LEFTIST VIEW: Victim, dependent on beneficent white liberals for help
CONSERVATIVE VIEW: Human being

Gay white

LEFTIST VIEW: Victim, dependent on beneficent white liberals for help
CONSERVATIVE VIEW: Human being

Black gay

LEFTIST VIEW: Victim, dependent on beneficent white liberals for help
CONSERVATIVE VIEW: Human being

Obama halo

LEFTIST VIEW: Victim, dependent on beneficent white liberals for help

Obama looking stupid

CONSERVATIVE VIEW: Human being (and not a very nice one at that)

My point:  I view my fellow human beings as . . . well . . . how best to put this?  I view them as fellow human beings, capable of all things base and sublime. Once people attain maturity, I believe that all of them are capable of making decisions about how they wish to live their lives.  True, not all of them start off with the same advantages, whether those are physical skills, mental abilities, or economically solid upbringing.  All, however, can decide to follow the paths of virtue or of vice.  Unlike dogs or cows or lizards, they are not bound by blind instinct.  Subject to limitations on either side of the bell curve, the vast majority of human beings, of all races, colors, sexes, creeds, and sexual orientations, are rational, conscious beings blessed with will power and the ability to engage in moral analysis.

Leftists, however, invariably view all people but for straight white man as objects of pity.  This is true no matter how often they apply adjectives such as “empowerment” or “pride” to these non-white male groups.  Without exception, Leftists make it very clear that their preferred victim classes are incapable of standing on their own two feet.  That are not fully fledged human beings who are masters of their fate or captains of their souls but, are instead pathetically needy, helpless beings.

Reverend Martin Luther King: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

And my favorite poem, of course:

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

(Leftist addendum: Unless I’m a victim.)

Upworthy and Good Men Project: Progressive sites for people seeking to save their souls through politics

AXRJP4I’ve noticed a trend on my “real me” Facebook page.  More and more of my liberal friends (and that means almost all of my real world, as opposed to cyber world, friends) are regularly linking to Upworthy and the Good Men Project.  Conservatives should heed the rise of these two sites they market themselves to knee-jerk liberals who cast votes as a way of saving their (non-religious) souls.

Upworthy is a site that posts made-for-Facebook (i.e., made-for-easy-distribution) videos showing people striking blows against racism, sexism (i.e., male chauvinism), hetereronomativism, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc. Here’s just a sampling of the videos of the moment (sans hyperlinks):

  • “Her Husband’s Abuse Once Kept Her Behind Closed Doors. Now She’s Speaking Out, Loud And Clear.”  (Evil male hegemony)
  • “They’re Harassed And Criminalized. But Could They Be The Solution To A Big Sex Industry Problem?”(Fighting prostitutophobia)
  • “Bully Calls News Anchor Fat, News Anchor Destroys Him On Live TV” (Beating back weight-ism)
  • “Meet The 17-Year-Old Who Blew The Lid Off Racial Profiling With His iPod” (The war on racism)
  • “You Might See Tattoos In A New Light After You See Them On This Woman” (Don’t judge a woman by her tramp-stamp)
  • “Good military men who support gay marriage” (Even baby killers can be good if they like gays)
  • “Nearly 1/3 Of All Campaign Dollars in 2013 Came From A Tiny Group Of People. Care To Guess Who?” (Rich people are evil, a video made by the AFL-CIO. Interestingly, the AFL-CIO forget to say that unions are the nation’s top political donors, and that these donations only go Democrat.)
  • “9 Out Of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong About This Mind-Blowing Fact” (Income inequality, brought to you by the corporate branch of the Occupy movement)
  • “A Boy Makes Anti-Muslim Comments In Front Of An American Soldier. The Soldier’s Reply: Priceless.” (Islamophobia is irrational)

For a website devoted to victim-hood, I find it interesting that I can’t find any videos at Upworthy in which people strike self-righteous blows against antisemitism, which is rearing its hydra-head in virulent form around the world.  A quick search reveals that neither the word “antisemitism” nor the word “anti-semitism” has ever appeared at Upworthy.  There also don’t seem to be any videos exposing the deadly anti-Christian ideology that’s rapidly stripping the Middle East and parts of Africa of their Christian citizens.  Instead, I found only videos attacking Christians for being homophobic (such as this one).  Also lacking are videos striking self-righteous blows against the misogyny and homophobia in the Middle East and Africa, that deprives women and gays of any rights whatsoever, and that routinely sees them hanged or stoned for imaginary crimes of adultery or for real or imagined acts of sodomy.

It’s entirely possible that Upworthy’s contributors support Jews, Christians, women, and gays at the mercy of Islamists, and are simply too scared to say anything, just as the Monty Python guys are now too scared to touch Islam.  Or it could be — which I think is the truth — that they don’t give a flying whatsit for these truly persecuted (i.e., real victim) groups.

It’s telling that, if you search “Islam” at Upworthy, you only get dozens of variations on “Islam is a religion of peace — honest.”  The Upworthy people apparently weren’t paying attention to 9/11, the Fort Hood shooting, the Madrid train bombing, the London subway and bus bombings, the Mumbai massacre, the Bali disco bombing, the London soldier beheading, the attempted Times Square Bombing, the Boston Marathon massacre, the Kenya mall massacre, and all of the other mass murders with perpetrators who made explicit the fact that they were acting in Islam’s name.  Alternatively, the Upworthy crew defines “peace” this way:  “If I appease them, they’ll leave me alone, which is very peaceful.”  Thinking about it, Upworthy’s contributors probably aren’t that familiar with Churchill either (“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”)

As for the Good Men Project, I’ll let Kevin Williamson describe it, as well as describing one of its latest offerings, which is a gender-neutral dating guide:

“It’s not possible to have a completely gender neutral date,” writes therapist Andrew Smiler in a head-clutchingly asinine essay for the Good Men Project, a repository of painfully navel-gazing male-feminist apologetics that describes itself as “not so much a magazine as a social movement.” While acknowledging the impossibility of his daunting task, Mr. Smiler goes on to offer a great many helpful tips in his “Guy’s Guide to the Gender-Minimized First Date.” But not before making a full and frank apology in advance: “I’m trying to write this guide to apply across all genders, masculine, feminine, trans*, etc. If I’ve missed or something is very wrong, I have faith someone will let me know in the comments. I’m also writing based on my own American background and referring primarily to gender roles as they currently exist in the U.S. Depending on where you’re from, you may have grown up with this approach or you may find it completely foreign.” An asterisk on that asterisk: “Trans*” I am reliably informed, is the new, more inclusive way of referring in writing to the phenomenon of transsexualism, or as the ever-helpful FAQ at “Ask a Trans Woman” explains: “Trans, sans asterisk, has a tendency to mean gender-binary folk (trans men and trans women, often by the DSM-IV, GID definition of the words.) Trans* is more inclusive.” It is getting difficult to keep up.

Mr. Smiler’s advice, almost all of which is catastrophically bad, consists in the main of pre-cooking evasive strategies for such potentially fraught issues as deciding who pays for dinner or whether to split the check in the name of sexual egalitarianism. His guidance: The party proffering the invitation pays for the party accepting it. This is the sole area in which Mr. Smiler, otherwise a celebrant of sexual fluidity, concedes that expectations may be fixed by circumstance. “You can maintain one roll [sic] . . . or you can switch around,” except when the bill comes, which is to say you can pass the rolls but not the check. Not my own style, though fair enough. (But who says you get to make the rules, Mr. Man?)

You can read the rest of Williamson’s exposé here, but I’d definitely recommend having an emesis basin at your side while you read.

Moving beyond Williamson’s “general neutral dating” focus, today’s Good Men Project offerings include the following:

  • “Be Honest With Yourself – How Racist Are You?”  (More than you know, my friend.  More than you know.)
  • “My Daughter’s Room is Grey for a Reason” (What could be more gender neutral than gray?)
  • “The Most Dangerous Four-Letter Word (Dick Simon has found a single word that marginalizes, isolate and insult. That word is THEM.)”  (You need to know that not all Muslims are terrorists.  To which I reply that I totally agree with that statement.  I’m just troubled by the fact that the vast majority of terrorists are Muslims — and, worse, they you refuse to acknowledge that reality.)
  • “Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person”  (Believe it or not, it can be done.  All white people are guilty.)
  • “What’s Law Got to Do With It? A Straight Married Guy’s Perspective on Marriage Know Thyself: An Open Letter to My Transgender Child” (I’m glad you love your child.  Now stop politicizing it.)

If you like your men gender-neutral, and that’s how you want to raise your own sons, Good Men Project is definitely the site for you. Me?  I like my men a little more . . . you know, manly, so the site doesn’t just leave me cold, it leaves me with a creepy, crawly, itchy feeling on my skin.

What both these sites offer are huge, gushy, pillowy mountains of soul-saving emotion.  Their implicit promise is that if you are a gender-neutral, non-heteronormative person who is in touch with your feelings; if you provide unswerving, unquestioning support for blacks, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, other sexuals, hefty people, tattooed people, prostitutes, beaten wives, and all of the other officially sanctioned victim classes; and, most importantly, if you revile Republicans and vote Democrat . . . you will be saved.  Hallelujah!!

It’s easy to laugh at Upworthy and the Good Men Project, since they seem more like parodies than anything else.  I can easily imagine Greg Gutfeld and crew laughingly brainstorming “dumb websites for Leftists” and coming up with imaginary sites that are indistinguishable from these two sites.

The reality is, though, that not only aren’t these websites parodies, there’s nothing funny about them.  They’re emotional soul-saving candy for people who have abandoned traditional faiths but still worry about their eternal salvation.  To them, a vote isn’t about what’s best for the country, as a whole; it’s about what’s most likely to make them feel virtuous.  In the absence of a traditional God, spiritual redemption can be found in feel-good Progressivism.

It’s these salvation-seekers who, when asked say that they’re liberals.  Right now, they’re at 23% of the population, which seems like an insignificant number.  It’s not.  For those seeking a return to constitutional government, individual freedom, and a sturdy sense of self-reliance, that 23% is scary because it’s really “23% and counting.”  Part of why this number is rising, even as Obama’s poll numbers and policies are falling, is that sites such as Upworthy and Good Men Project promise eternal salvation in a non-religious world.  If you side with the Progressive’s carefully identified victim-classes, your non-religious soul will be saved from eternal Republican damnation.

All of which gets me back to a point I made a long time ago:  To win this fight, conservatives too must offer the American people a vision that allows them to save their souls.  There’s actually nothing new about this.  In a country that hasn’t stood still since the first European set foot on its shores, Americans, feeling adrift, have always sought salvation, whether it was 18th and 19th century religious revivals, Aimee Semple McPherson hucksterism, or (as is the case now) redemption through voting Democrat. Conservatives have allowed a status quo to exist in which Democrats point to conservatives as the devil incarnate (which is ironic given that are more likely than Progressives to espouse traditional religious views), while promising a baptism and rebirth at the altar of government.

I’ve mentioned before that conservatives with money and style should create a series of widely promoted commercials showing someone doing something wonderful — helping the poor, being an awesome athlete, growing a business out of a home that employs hundreds of people, being an artist, etc. — and all ending with the tag line “and I’m a conservative.”  These people should be Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Male, Female, Gay, Straight, Young, and Old (and anything else I’ve forgotten).  What’s important is that conservatives must deprive Progressives of their self-anointed status as the group that determines who in America is saved and who is damned.

We keep trying to give intellectual food to people who want only emotional and spiritual reassurance.  It’s fine for us to say that ours are the better ideas, but ideas, no matter how good, are useless if one continuously loses at the ballot box, in the court houses, and, worst of all, in the court of public opinion.  Our first and biggest job is to show that conservatives are nice and that, if you’re looking to save your soul, conservativism is at least as good as, and quite possibly much better than, the Progressivism so relentlessly foisted on them.  Everything else flows from that.

To sell their ideas, conservatives must first re-train Americans to recognize their humanity

Devil votes Republican

One of the striking paradoxes in Marin is that the same people who reliably vote for Democrat candidates actually have quite conservative values.  In my Marin world, people are educated, ambitious, hard-working, married, and family-oriented, and they happily live in almost entirely white communities.  As to that last, it’s not that they would object if a black family moved it.  It would simply have to be a black family that was “one of us,” meaning educated, ambitious, etc.  Despite their essentially conservative values, these hard-working people support endless welfare; these family-oriented, helicopter parents happily consign poor children to the tender mercies of the state; and these married parents, who have the luxury of a stay-at-home mom, support any policy that advances single motherhood.  The Marin dwellers I know are the living embodiment of Charles Murray’s wonderful observation that elite Democrats don’t preach what they practice.

Tiburon and Belvedere, in Marin County, California

Tiburon and Belvedere, in Marin County, California

On the rare occasions when I’m able to speak with my friends without using political labels, they invariably agree with me about the benefits of hard work and marriage, about the social and economic virtues of two-parent families, about the problem with the hypersexualization of young children, and about the fact that the best defense against bullies is projecting a strong attitude of self-defense.  Point out, though, that these values align them with Ted Cruz or Mitt Romney, who support profiting from ones own labor, being married as a predicate to children, encouraging (although not legislating) a more wholesome popular culture, and projecting American strength abroad, and they’ll back away from you as if you’ve suddenly sprouted horns.

How Democrats are trained to view conservatives and Republicans

How Democrats are trained to view conservatives/Republicans

It’s that last phrase that explains why these Democrats, even if their values are completely at odds with their own party, would never, never vote Republican.  In their minds, it’s not that Democrats Republicans have bad ideas; it’s that they’re eeeevvviiiilll.  Not just “evil,” but eeeevvviiiilll.  To them, Republicans haven’t merely sold their souls to the Devil, which implies that it’s possible to regain those lost souls.  Instead, it’s that Republicans have no souls.  To the Marin liberal, politics are controlled by a simple syllogism:

Republicans/conservatives are evil.
I am not evil.
Therefore I can never be a Republican/conservative.

But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, right?  For years, conservatives have wryly observed that, while conservative think liberals are misguided, liberals think conservatives are evil.  So why am I dragging this old issue to the table?  Because now is the time to change this paradigm.

We know from a Harvard study that the young generation is turning against Obama because he betrayed them.  Unfortunately, though, despite their disenchantment with Obama, these youngsters aren’t turning to Republicans.  Given the fact that Democrats lied and Republicans spoke the truth, these youth voters aren’t making a U-turn and heading for the Republican party.  Instead, they’ve opted for a “plague on both your houses” approach to politics.

Their refusal even to contemplate conservativism stems from their constant indoctrination:  Republicans are eeeevvviiiilll.  In any Hollywood film that touches upon politics (and even in those that don’t), Republicans are evil.  In any MSM news story, Republicans are evil.  In songs, at award shows, on Twitter, and Facebook, the cascade of obscene, profane, and scatalogical remarks from those on the Left are uniform:  Republicans are eeeevvviiiilll.

obama-pinocchioWith Obamacare cratering and Obama being revealed as both incompetent and dishonest, Republicans are trying to figure out how to position themselves as the obvious political alternative.  Sadly, the state of American political debate and thinking is not such that conservatives can gain voters by explaining that conservative ideas are better.  We take the world as we’re given, though, and that world demands that we suit our argument to our audience.  Before they listen to us, they need to like us — or at least they need to stop fearing us.  The answer is to run a personality campaign.

When I speak of a “personality campaign,” I refer to gauzy photographs of Republican politicians with their spouses and children.  Although that seems to play well to the base, it does nothing to convert the people who think we’re eeeevvviiiilll.  Democrats have been trained to view those photographs — when they come from conservatives — as the equivalent of photographs showing Nazi camp guards having tea parties in their homes.

What the RNC and other conservative groups should be producing, instead, are gazillions of one-minute-long commercials and YouTube videos, as well as easy-to-share posters for Facebook and Twitter, all of which focus on ordinary whites, Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics engaging in good acts of the type that thoughtless, but disenchanted, Democrats can understand.  Each video or poster should end with the tag line “I’m [fill in the name] and I’m a Republican.”

For example, you might have a video showing an Asian woman working at a homeless shelter, and have it end with her saying “I’m [fill in the name] and I’m a Republican.”  Or you have a poster of a black volunteer hard at work for Habitat for Humanity, over the tag line “I’m [fill in the name] and I’m a Republican.”  Another video might show someone getting out of a Prius and into a wheelchair, again with the tag line “I’m [fill in the name] and I’m a Republican.

Conservatives are ordinary people -- and that's a good thing

Conservatives are ordinary people — and that’s a good thing

The possibilities are endless, because Republicans are good people, and they actually do many things that make Democrats happy.  Posters and videos of beach clean-ups, animal shelter work, homeless shelter work, Big Brother/Big Sister work, tutoring kids at inner city schools, and raising money for African orphanages, would humanize a group of people who have been demonized simply because they believe in the worth of the individual and in maximum individual freedom.  When it comes to speaking out to Americans, we need to stop focusing on the politicians, whom the media finds it easy to ridicule and denigrate, and start looking into the Republican community, which is brimful of wonderful, caring, people, for whom being wonderful and ordinary is just a part of their lives.

We cannot convert people to our ideas unless we can convince them that their “conservatives are evil” syllogism is utterly false. The new syllogism should go like this:

Republicans/conservatives are good people.
I share most of their values.
Since the Democrat party has lied and broken its promises, and its ideas have failed, I should vote Republican.

[For those of you who find the ideas in here vaguely familiar, my dear friend Don Quixote made precisely this point many years ago. He was, as is often the case, a clear-sighted visionary.]

The paradox of Leftist utopianism and its dystopian art

Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim

Six By Sondheim” is a new, well-produced HBO documentary that stitches together the many interviews Stephen Sondheim has given over the years since the late 1950s and then ties those interviews in with six of his best-known or (to him) most important songs. NPR enthused that the show leaves viewers wanting more but, as I am not a Sondheim fan, I wanted less — or at least less of the music.  The interviews, however, were interesting.

My takeaway is that Sondheim is a decent, articulate, intelligent man, who thinks deeply about his craft.  I may not like his end product, finding the endless word play emotionally distancing and the music discordant, but there’s serious hard work and lots of talent behind it.

Sondheim has made a living out of thumbing his nose at critics who complain rightly that his songs are not “hummable.”  Certainly that’s part of why I don’t like his music.  I’m simplistic enough to like pop songs that I can sing later.  Although maybe “simplistic” isn’t the right word.  When Irving Berlin rhymes “farmer” with “potato embalmer,” there’s nothing simplistic about that.  It’s a delightful rhyme scheme that captures in three words one aspect of a farmer’s work.  Likewise, there’s nothing embarrassing about Johnny Mercer’s exquisite lyrics to I Remember You.  “When my life is through, and the angels ask me to recall the thrill of it all, then I will tell them I remember you.”  My primary reasoning for disliking Sondheim’s music isn’t that it’s not hummable; it’s that, to my ears, it’s not attractive.

Certainly Sondheim’s subject matter is seldom attractive consisting as it does of strippers, burlesque, broken homes, and psychopathic moms (Gypsy); deadly street gangs (West Side Story); serial killers (Sweeney Todd); a dystopian view of fairy tales (Into The Woods); attempted presidential murderers (Assassins); a man’s throwing away his life’s talent (Merrily We Roll Along); or broken down marriages (Follies).  Listening to Sondheim describe his life, this deeply negative view about relationships and people in general isn’t particularly surprising.

Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd

Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd

Sondheim’s parents had an unhappy marriage that ended when he was 10.  Before, during, and after the divorce, he was a pawn in his parents drama and, most especially in his mother’s obsession with his father and her manifest dislike for being a parent.  She hated her son and he knew it.  Indeed, when Sondheim was 40, right before his mother went into surgery, she wrote him a letter saying that the worst thing that ever happened to her was to have him.

Sondheim was also a homosexual who came of age during a time when his sexual orientation was unpopular, to say the least.  There’s no doubt that, in the Broadway world, he could easily have found sufficient numbers of like-minded people to form a relationship that went beyond casual sex.  He didn’t, though.  It appears that  his upbringing left him so emotionally constipated that, as he confesses, he was only able to fall in love when he was 60.

Blessedly, Sondheim seems to keep his politics to himself, but he’s certainly part of the zeitgeist on the Lefter side of the political spectrum.  Those who like him are often the same people who sneer at traditional musical theater, with its bright songs and happy endings.

After watching the documentary, I realized that American art and entertainment present a funny paradox.  Leftists tend to create and to prefer art and entertainment that focuses on the sleazy, irredeemable side of human nature.  Many of Sondheim’s plays exemplify this fact, but the list of gutter-gazing art from Leftists is endless.  Hollywood and Broadway Leftists like, and endlessly produce, movies and shows that focus on the bad guys (Tony Soprano, Walter White), depressing situations (Precious, American Beauty), or sordid behavior (just about every movie out of Hollywood lately).

Fred and Ginger

Fred and Ginger

Conservatives tend to yearn for the type of wholesome fare that Hollywood churned out from the time of the Code through the late 1960s.  These shows involve happy people muddling through to happy endings, bad people getting their comeuppances in morally satisfying ways, suffering people rewarded at the end, etc.  The tear-jerkers involved deeply sympathetic characters who tried to do good and failed, not creepy psychopaths who worked hard at being evil and, even when they got their comeuppance, never repented.

Looking at the differing artistic fare the two political cultures generate, you’d think that it was the conservatives who were the utopians and the Leftists who were the harsh realists.  In fact, though, Leftists are the utopians who fervently believe that, if they can just figure out the correct political coercion, they will perfect human kind, turning each man into someone who joyfully, and without greed, rancor, or violence, gives of his labors to support everyone else in the world.  Conservatives, on the other hand, recognize that humankind is inherently greedy, rancorous, and violent, and seek to create voluntarily enforced social, moral, and economic systems that harness and control these innate tendencies in a way that’s simultaneously beneficial to the individual and to society at large.

Presumably, this paradox can be resolved as follows:  Leftists use art to establish that the world, especially the American world, is a terrible place because it lacks the guiding hand of a loving police state.  Meanwhile, conservatives use their art aspirationally, to encourage all people to cultivate voluntarily their better selves, or to put their “baser” instincts (i.e., greed) to a use that lifts up their own lives while improving and enriching the world.

Thomas Sowell has a knack

It occurred to me that Sowell is somewhat Victorian in his ability to come up with pithy summations of large ideas.  In a pre-typewriter age, brevity was virtuous.  These are some of his thoughts for today, but I urge you to click on the link and read them all:

President Obama really has a way with words, such as calling the problems that millions of people have had trying to sign up for ObamaCare “glitches.” When the Titanic sank, was that a “glitch”?

[snip]

No one seems as certain that they know what the Republicans need to do to win presidential elections as those Republicans who have lost presidential elections, such as Mitt Romney, John McCain and Bob Dole. Moreover, people take them seriously, and seem not to notice that what the losers advocate is the opposite of what won Ronald Reagan two landslide election victories.

If you believe in equal rights, then what do “women’s rights,” “gay rights,” etc., mean? Either they are redundant or they are violations of the principle of equal rights for all.

[snip]

Those who want to “spread the wealth” almost invariably seek to concentrate the power. It happens too often, and in too many different countries around the world, to be a coincidence. Which is more dangerous, inequalities of wealth or concentrations of power?  [Emphasis mine.]

Really, I’m not just saying it to be polite:  Go read all of Sowell’s thoughts for today.

John F. Kennedy — to the right of today’s establishment Republicans

I’ve never been a John F. Kennedy fan, primarily because I found the Kennedy hagiography so distasteful.  Even as a teen, I seem to have been immune to, and even repulsed by, Leftist politician worship.  Over the years, I’ve learned, of course, that Ted Cruz and John F. Kennedy would probably have been very happy working together.  Jeff Jacoby’s article is as good a distillation as any I’ve seen about Kennedy’s true political conservativism.  I still find room in my heart to dislike Kennedy’s narcissistic hedonism but, if he ran today on his 1960 political platform (only substitution Islamists for Communists), I would vote for him.

Three degrees of separation

I enjoy reading my Liberal-Lefty friends’ Facebook posts because they are so insightful into the mindsets of the Left.

One insight that I have gained over time is that the differences between us conservatives and the Progressive/Left are so profound that they are unlikely to ever be bridged, barring some cataclysmic, life-changing events. What I have tried to do is understand why this is so. I share this with you because I greatly appreciate the insights that Bookworm group has to offer on such issues – be it “yay” or “nay”.

Our disagreements appear to come down to three levels of separation.

1) First, there are objective facts (OK, I am being deliberately redundant here). These are easy enough to resolve. Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock world has arrived: everybody is so overwhelmed with information that we can’t absorb and process all there is to know and we therefore choose our facts selectively.

As Ronald Reagan said, ““It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”

In discussions, factual disputes are easy enough to resolve: my typical response to Liberal /Lefties is simply tell them to “Google it”. Amazingly, many apparently don’t know that you can Google entire texts or sentences. A good example was the recent George Zimmerman trial…many people with whom I disagreed told me outright they were too busy to bother looking up facts. The Left operates on so many facts that just aren’t so.

2) The second level of separation involves our assumptions or premises. These are tougher to resolve, because we assume and presume events based on our past experiences. I suspect that we humans are hard-wired to build assumptions (true or false) as a defense mechanism: for example, my cave ancestors probably assumed that to allow a saber-tooth tiger to stand in their path was not a good thing and that such assumption is one reason why I stand here today.

We go through life building mental templates on how the world works in order to short-circuit decision making and evaluation. Otherwise, we would soon be overwhelmed with indecision. As long as our world templates work for us, we continue to hold onto them. Many formerly Liberals (e.g., David Horowitz, Bookworm) only became conservative when one or more events (e.g., 9/11) rendered their previously comfortable world views untenable. For me it was Reagan’s second term, when his policies led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and an economic resurgence. I, young man at the time, knew then that my Democrat world template had been very, very wrong.

I use the word “comfortable” deliberately, because our templates represent our comfort zones. Losing that comfort zone is terrifying. Imagine if all of a sudden nothing in the world made any sense to you; you would feel totally deracinated and quite possibly insane. You would also feel a deep sense of personal failure, as in “how in the world could I have been so deluded?”

And, the older you get, the more frightening that sense of loss, confusion and failure would be. So, the older we get, the more desperately we defend our mental templates, selecting and force-fitting “facts” to fit our own perceptions of reality. I believe this is where modern Liberalism and Progressivism are today (Google “Paul Krugman”). As Thomas Sowell put it, people of the Left expect the world to conform to their misperceptions. Eventually, however, reality hits like a 2 x 4 between the brow…as in “Detroit”.

I believe that this dynamic also explains the sheer viciousness expressed by many on the Left when the presumptions of their world templates are threatened (as by Sarah Palin or by black conservatives, for example). This is also the reason why I believe that world Islam will fail, because it doesn’t work and eventually people in Muslim worlds, aided by the internet, will eventually realize this (some of my Middle Eastern friends assure me that many already do). Reality is a harsh mistress.

This level of separation helps to explain why Liberals and Conservatives usually talk past each other. We try to rationalize our positions to each other, but our rationalizations only make sense if the other party shares the same assumptions and understandings of how the world works. We operate from completely different templates.

3) Faith. This the most difficult and potentially dangerous degree of separation, because it addresses fundamental values that are non-negotiable. Our “faith” defines how we perceive ourselves and our place in the world, irrespective of facts, logic and reason. I cannot, for example, “prove” the veracity of my Christian faith. Environmental extremists and atheists cannot “prove” the righteousness of their positions. We just “know” that what we believe to be true is true. There is no logical argument that I know of that can challenge faith-based values. Our values define who we are and how we perceive the world to be. Utopian fascist ideals (Progressivism, Nazism, communism, Islamism, etc.), for example, are defined by a faith in a future to come – they require no proof. Abortion is a similar issue of faith and values – there is no middle-of-the-road compromise if you believe abortion to be murder and that murder is wrong (a value proposition). Psychologists have claimed that only very powerful shocks to the system can challenge faith.

I have no dealing with the first degree of separation. I admit, however, that I am totally stumped on how to address (2) and (3). Any ideas?

HuffPo’s Ann Coulter article a perfect example of the way the way the Left demonizes conservatives

I’ve noticed that the mainstream media keeps calling Colorado moderate when it reports on the fact that a Democrat legislature and a Democrat governor are trying hard to up-end Coloradan’s Second Amendment rights.  I haven’t paid much attention to Colorado over the years, but I can say this with certainty:  whatever it was in the past, there’s nothing moderate about a present in which the legislature marches lockstep with the full Progressive agenda.  At some point, Colorado stopped being moderate and, politically at least, became Left.  To continue to call it moderate is simply the media’s way of trying to shift the definition of “political center” to the Left.

That’s why I was much struck by a Huffington Post article that described Ann Coulter as “ultra controversial.”  Yes, she’s outspoken, but most of her stands are right in the dead center of American conservative politics.  Heck, she was Mitt Romney’s biggest cheerleader — yet they demonize her.  The following is my take, which is all Bookworm, even though it got published first at Mr. Conservative:

coulter

The ultra-Leftist Huffington Post has launched yet another attack against author and speaker Ann Coulter — this time because of Coulter’s take on Sen Dianne Feinstein’s response when Sen. Ted Cruz (R. Tex) reminder her that her attempted gun grab ran completely counter to the Constitution. Dianne Feinstein, unable to mount a credible constitutional counterattack, instead expressed emotion-fueled outrage that someone would dare talk to her that way.

Coulter had a field day with Feinstein’s “helpless wittle me” response. Speaking to Sean Hannity, Coulter pointed out that both Feinstein and fellow “I am woman, hear me roar” feminist Hillary Clinton, the moment they got called on bad conduct (in Hillary’s case, very bad conduct), practically burst into tears.

Based upon these women’s pathetic responses to challenges to their conduct as political professionals, Coulter cracked one of her usual sarcastic, over-the-top jokes, with a little bit of gleeful exaggeration wrapped around a large, solid core of truth:

I used to think women just should not be able to vote. Now I think at least liberal women should not be able to hold office. Every time you try to have a discussion with them, they become hysterical, they cry, and they want to show pictures of dead children. As if our position is “we don’t mind a few dead children.” Our position is “concealed carry” would stop these slaughters.

Except for what are obviously quips about women and voting, everything Coulter said was accurate: in the past few months, Hillary used hysteria to avoid questions about the four men who died in Benghazi while on her watch; while Feinstein has used everything from maudlin statements about children’s dead bodies to shakey-voiced refutations about her constitutional ignorance.

It began by dismissing her as “ultra-controversial.” She isn’t really. Ann Coulter is a solid, middle-of-the-road conservative. She’s against abortion and Islamic terrorism, and for small government, secure borders, and the Second Amendment. If that’s “ultra-controversial,” so is roughly half the country.

What upsets the HuffPo crowd about Coulter is that she tells the truth. She has no patience for political correctness, and she’s willing to force Leftists to face the absurd reality of their policies. For example, HuffPo says that Coulter got heat in February for pointing out that America’s gun crime is a “demographic” problem. Tragically, Coulter is right. FBI statistics show that, if one removes from the equation black-on-black crime (which usually occurs in Democrat-ran cities), America ends up with gun crime rates comparable to those in Europe.

Coulter does not say this to be racist. She says it to point out the liberal policies that turned blacks into poverty-stricken government dependents have robbed blakcs of their God-given right to stand up as moral men and women. The high black-on-black crime rate exists, not because blacks are in any way inferior, but because liberals incentivized them to be so through decades of aggressively-pushed abortions that have decimated the next generation of blacks; welfare policies that have made black men useless and that have destroyed the bond that should exist between man and woman, and mother and father; and a form of soft racism that never calls blacks on their crimes – as one would call any person one respects – but instead says that blacks can’t help themselves. This attitude is the underhanded liberal way of making the ultimate racist statement; namely, that blacks have less moral decency and self-control than whites.

It’s that ugly truth about their own racism, and its horrible effects on blacks in America, that the HuffPo crowd cannot tolerate. They try to shut her up because she holds a up mirror to their faces and says “Your policies have failed – and you’ve destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives in the process.”

Principles aren’t a big thing over at the HuffPo in any event. Its founder, Arianna Huffington, made her career jumping from one famous person and cause to another. On three occasions, she’s been credibly accused of plagiarizing other writers’ work in books he published under her own name. In England, she was a liberal democrat. In America, she married Republican Michael Huffington, and suddenly became a Republican who stuck with him as he won a House seat. She left her husband after he lost a Senate bid and then decided to reinvent herself as a Democrat.

Huffington is an opportunist and a dishonest one at that. It’s scarcely surprising that her publication would be hostile to someone who points out that Liberals have no fixed moral points, and that their policies are terribly destructive.

The courage of our convictions — NOT

In one of the comments to my earlier post about Ted Cruz, Mike Devx noted that Cruz is attractive because he has “the courage of his convictions.” That particular phrase tied in with something I’ve been thinking about for the last few days, regarding freedom of speech, or rather the lack thereof, when it comes to Islam and Leftism.

The starting point for my thoughts was this Topher video, in which he focuses on the importance of free speech:

As you can see, Topher structured the video around the argument that so much of what we accept as true today started out as highly unpopular speech that the majority tried to quash through censorship both official and informal.

We tend to think of censorship as something that arises because we fear the power of “the Other’s” ideas.  Certainly that is the animating purpose behind all those hate speech laws throughout Europe, and the hate crime laws in America. Both are predicated upon stamping out the overwhelming temptation of an enemy’s words or acts.

Here’s the thing, though:  If we trusted in ourselves we would not be so afraid of the Other. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case if Islam, which includes as core doctrine the requirement that its practitioners must stamp out any opposing speech, ideas, or religion. A self-confident ideology would not be so paranoid about potential opposition.

The same is true, of course, when it comes to Leftism. Marx didn’t make censorship a core ideological demand, but Leftism invariably leads to censorship.  This is true whether we’re talking about government ukases or about the social strictures of Political Correctness. Leftism knows, because history has shown, that when people start to speak out against Leftism, Leftism falls by the historic wayside.

What’s so deeply depressing in today’s political scene is the fact that conservative politicians are so desperately afraid that their own ideology is too weak to compete.  Rather than taking the Islamic or Leftist tact of imposing censorship on others, they preemptively impose it upon themselves.

America’s conservative politicians have Stockholm Syndrome.  Despite recognizing that the opposing party is their enemy, they have become so cowed that they seem truly to believe that there’s something wrong about equal treatment under the law (as opposed to the affirmative discrimination the Left encourages), about the virtues of self-sufficiency and self-reliance, and about other common conservative and libertarian principles.

In some ways, I know I’ve just stated the obvious — the more you believe in yourself, the less scared you’re going to be of the other guy.  Nevertheless, we need to remind Republican politicians that there is no virtue in preemptive surrender to the other side.  If you’re going to die anyway, at least die fighting, with your own banner bravely flying.

If I were in charge of CPAC, I would ignore the Democrats entirely.  Instead, I would spend the entire time educating conservatives about conservativism.  They need to believe affirmative, rather than passively, that to the extent the American people want freedom, equality under the law, and affluence, conservative ideals are the ones that are going to take them there.

Conservatives: if we’re so smart how come we keep getting out-maneuvered politically? *UPDATED*

We conservatives think we’re pretty smart. We have time-tested ideas, great thinkers (Thomas Sowell, Mark Steyn, Milton Friedman, Jonah Goldberg, etc.), and people support our values in the abstract if the questions don’t have political labels attached.

Given appealing messages and smart messengers, why do we keep losing? Why was our most recent political candidate, who is supposed to be a business genius, incapable of running an efficient campaign right up to and including a functional get-out-the-vote effort? How did we find ourselves in a position where Pres. Obama proposes sequestration, then refuses to offer a budget that would make sequestration unnecessary, then refuses to negotiate with the Republicans, and, at the end of the day, is the one who comes out smelling like a rose in the public’s mind?

How did we end up with a president and a Department of Justice that decide not to defend the law of the land when it comes to the Defense of Marriage Act? Whether not you support that policy, shouldn’t the chief executive be tasked with the responsibility of defending it to the Supreme Court?

Again, if we are so smart why are we losing on our main issue — the budget — and not even making any headway on other issues that will irreparably change America’s fabric? These changes, such as immigration, marriage policy, leading from behind overseas, etc. may actually be changes for the good, but shouldn’t conservatives have a voice in them? Right now, both in DC and in our own cities and states, we’ve been cut out of the debate.

I have no answers to all these questions. I know that, when I see the headlines, I get frustrated. I cannot tell if conservative voters have a knack for electing ineffectual candidates, or if the Democrat media juggernaut is so powerful that we have reached the point at which there is nothing we can do anymore to penetrate Or affect the public debate.

If it’s the former we can perhaps make changes at a grassroots level. If it’s the latter, it seems to me we’ve already lost. It’s time for us to pick up our pathetically small number of marbles, go home, and make our peace with the America that is unfolding before our eyes.

I’m usually fairly enthusiastic about taking on semi-lost causes. I am not, however, very sanguine about taking on absolutely lost causes. If we, the party of tried and true ideas, as opposed to the the party of ideas that have failed every time; if we, the party of genuine intellects instead of sophists, cannot make our case; and if we, the party tackling real issues, such as economic meltdown and national security, as opposed to the party prevailing on cosmetic, made-up issues, such as free birth control and cell phones, cannot make our case, and cannot penetrate the media smoke, we are DOOMED.

Sorry to be such a downer, but we ought to be winning, and we’re not, and at a certain point we need to take responsibility for our manifest and multiple failures. Our candidates are bad, our thinkers don’t communicate outside of the community of true-believers, our ideas are unappealing, and we’re being encircled and destroyed by peanut-brained media talking heads.

Pfeh!

UPDATE:  It occurred to me that an alternate caption for this blog could have been “When it comes to messaging, we’re reaching each other, while they’re reaching everyone else.”  Did I say “pfeh” earlier?  I double that pfeh! now.

This is what I’m talking about — pithy posters for conservatives

I mentioned last week that, in today’s short-attention span universe, we can reach voters with analysis.  That’s a sad fact, but a true one.  They need to have neatly encapsulated thoughts that they can share on Facebook or tweet out to their world.

My fellow Watcher’s Council member, Michael Haltman, who blogs at The Political Commentator, has assembled a lovely starter collection of pithy posters that spell out conservative bottom lines in a memorable and appealing way.

If you see one you like, spread it around.  Or tell people about all seventeen of those pithy posters.  And while you’re at it, maybe you should buy a Rubio water bottle.  He’s figured out — at least as to this one — how to de-fang the media.

Alinsky put his brilliance to the service of the wrong gods, but it doesn’t mean he wasn’t brilliant. I’ve highlighted my favorites:

  • RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood.
  • RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.
  • RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.
  • RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.
  • RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.
  • RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.
  • RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news.
  • RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.
  • RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.
  • RULE 10: “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.” It is the unceasing pressure that will result in the reaction of the opposition that is essential for the success of the campaign.
  • RULE 11: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.
  • RULE 12: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem.
  • RULE 13: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

Conservatives need to start following at least some of these rules, and we need to do it hard and fast.

To convince voters, conservatives need to learn that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it

I spend ridiculous amounts of my time trying to convince my children that, while “Give me that!” and “May I have that, please”, mean the same thing, their chances of success are much greater with the second phrase.  I repeat ad nauseum that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.  People respond not only to a statement’s core message, but to the packaging around that message.

Advertisers have always understand that packaging is as important as, if not more important than, the underlying message.  Will a specific car, beer, or aftershave really turn an insecure, badly dressed young man into a sex God?  Of course not.  But if you’re a car manufacturer, and you have the choice of buying advertising hours that say to the young man “This car drives well” or spending those same dollars to say “You will be a suave chick magnet if you drive this car,” which ad would you choose?  Advertisers know that sex sells.  Or if sex is usable, “sell the sizzle, not the steak.”

1956 Monarch car advertisement

Politics is also a two-tiered structure.  There’s the product, or ideology, and there’s the sales pitch to sell that ideology to the greatest number of people in hopes of garnering their votes.  Democrats have fully mastered the sales pitch.  Republicans haven’t.  Democrats say “Look at this picture of dead children or pathetic (and perhaps dead too) minorities.”  Republicans say “Look!  We have a chart.”  Honestly! The last time charts made a difference was in the 1992 election, when Ross Perot whipped out his little pieces of cardboard — and back then, all those charts did was to tip the election in a Democrat’s favor.

There’s certainly a lot of data to drive Republican charts.  Indeed, back in 2011, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), put together a clever little video comparing Perot’s federal debt and spending charts to the numbers Perot would use if he were making the same pitch today:

I liked the video. You probably did too. The problem, though, is that you and I are high information voters who respond to facts and analysis. Though it pains me to say this, we are not the norm. The vast majority of people are probably never going to be high information voters in any society, but there’s also no doubt that a Leftist-controlled education system has rendered Americans almost incapable of either appreciating or understanding hard data.

As the 2012 election proved, facts on the ground (joblessness, flabby economy, disastrous foreign policies) are just too deep for most voters. Properly manipulated, they find it more emotionally satisfying to stick it to a mean rich man who puts dogs on car roofs and wants all women to carry their rapist’s fetus.

In this non-intellectual universe, it’s almost irrelevant what a political party’s message is. What matters is whether the party can position itself as the good guy party, regardless of its ideology, while simultaneously positioning the opposing party as the bad guy party. The Democrats do this masterfully.

As an example, think about the administration’s recent decision to put women on the front lines: Conservatives responded to this announcement with talk of military missions, battle readiness, logistical problems, changing standards, etc. — all of which are sensible and appropriate responses to an administrative fiat that will, more probably than not, have a negative effect upon military missions, battle readiness, logistics, and standards.

Women in combat

Democrats bypassed all that “tech talk” and, instead, went in for the kill: Republicans hate women. Never mind the unspoken part of that sentence, which is that “Republicans hate women, because they won’t allow women to go into situations where they are extremely likely to be killed and raped.” If you speak the unspoken, you get a very clear idea of Cloud Cuckoo Land that Leftist’s inhabit. But never mind about the reality behind the ideology — the Left sells sex and sizzle.

No doubt because I am the quintessential word person (although I have no knack for clever quips and pitches), I’ve been harping on this issue for years. When it comes to the Democrats and Progressives, there’s a message to their madness: We, the Democrats/Progressives are good; they, the Republicans/conservatives, are bad. Everything flows from that.

Fortunately, given that my voice has no resonance in world outside of my blog, better thinkers than I am are making the same point. David Horowitz, who understands Leftist thinking from the inside out, urges Republicans to stop the anguished, self-involved, navel gazing and to begin the hard work of communicating to voters in language they understand. He argues, correctly, that the Left is fighting an epic battle, complete with villains and heroes, and we’re still whipping out our gosh-darned charts.

Horowitz’s article, though long, is worth reading in its entirety. I’ll just leave you with a few of his conclusions:

A Winning Strategy for Republicans

1. Put the aggressors on the defensive.

2. Put their victims — women, minorities, the poor and working Americans -­-­ in front of every argument and every policy in the same way they do.

3. Start the campaign now (because the Democrats already have).

The Weapons of Politics Are Hope and Fear

The weapons of political campaigns are images and sound bites designed to inspire the emotions of fear and hope. Obama won the presidency in 2008 on a campaign of hope; he won re-election in 2012 on a campaign of fear.

Hope works, but fear is a much stronger and more compelling emotion. In a political campaign, it is directed at one’s political opponent. Democrats exploit this emotion to the hilt; Republicans often seem too polite to even use it.

Please read the rest here.

Lee Habeeb and Mike Leven are also engaged in the work of using a prominent forum (National Review Online) to publish a series of articles aimed at shaping a coherent, and salable, political narrative for conservatives.  This week’s installment is “The Moral Case for Conservativism.”

As with Horowitz, Habeeb and Leven urge a level of public discourse that avoids charts and data, and that frames an epic battle in the same way that Progressives claim politics as an epic battle — except that, in this version, we’re the good guys:

If there is a single reason why conservatives continue to lose the battle of ideas, it’s because we don’t make the moral case for freedom and free markets. Our political class instead makes the economic case for our philosophy. Our smart guys are so impressed with their own intelligence, they think we can win the debate using numbers and data, charts and graphs, and political tactics and strategy.

It’s the Left’s secret advantage. They create the feeling that they care more about the average American because they make the moral case for their philosophy.

One of the advantages this confers on the Left is this: They get to play large ball, while we play a dour brand of small ball.

As with Horowitz’s article, I urge you to read the whole thing.

Those of us who spend our time following politics understand that we are engaged in a battle for America’s heart and soul.  On one side is an ideology that dreams of subordinating the individual to an all-powerful state.  History proves that this has never turned out well.  On the other side is an ideology that dreams of allowing each individual maximum freedom in a state that exerts minimum coercion but that, instead, provides a stable infrastructure and a level playing field.  Our own history demonstrates how successful this approach is.

Put another way, life is imitating Star Wars, with an epic battle taking place over America’s future.  We’d better call our agents and make sure that they let the audience know that we’re the rebels, not the Empire.  Once we’ve established that we’re the good guys, we — the ordinary people who aren’t paid political operatives — need to put on our thinking caps and figure out how we can contribute to winning this battle.

To win the future, conservatives need to give voters a positive image of a can-do America and a can-do Republican Party *UPDATED*

For the past four years, conservatives have been fighting a relentlessly rearguard, defensive action.  For those same four years, conservatives have lost every rearguard, defensive action that they’ve fought.  Or if they haven’t actually lost, the best that they’ve managed is a stalemate that stalls Progressivism, but doesn’t advance conservative values.  Even the stunning 2010 “shellacking” proved ineffective, as shellackings really only work if you take over Congress entirely, rather than just getting half of it.

Anger

Conservative also don’t seem to be faring too well in the culture wars.  To use abortion as just one example, in the 2012 election, conservatives lost the chance to take over Congress when Progressives successfully demonized two Republican Senate candidates who are pro-Life.  More than that, it seems as if, contrary to past trends showing that Americans are inclined to a pro-Life view, a recent poll gave a definitive victory to American support for abortion.

Ironically, right up until the 2012 election, many conservatives (myself included) thought that these tactics would work. We believed that a jobless recovery (a stock market that benefited from Obama’s crony capitalism, even as more and more people became unemployed), creeping inflation, flabby home sales, depreciating savings, rising medical costs, and all the other signs of a sick economy, would turn voters against Obama.

We also thought that proofs of corruption (Fast and Furious), incompetency (Benghazi), and crony capitalism (Solyndra), would turn voters against Obama.  They didn’t.

Sad

Sure we knew that Romney, although a good and intellectually brilliant man, was only a decent candidate, but we thought that, given all of Obama’s failures and dishonesty, Romney’s charisma deficit wouldn’t be a problem.  And had Romney been a Democrat, it really wouldn’t have been a problem.  He was a Republican, though, which meant that sterling character and brilliant economic chops were inadequate to fend off the extraordinarily vicious character assassination that the White House and the media launched against him.

We conservatives hadn’t counted on Americans buying such disgusting canards or ignoring ugly facts, but they did. Between the media running interference, general disinterest from voters more fascinated by Honey Boo Boo and Jersey Shores than by politics, and Americans’ probable fear of voting a black man out of the White House, conservatives got to watch Obama win again.

In the wake of Obama’s victory, conservatives in the media and in the blogosphere have responded by amping up their previous tactics.  Considering that Obama won’t be running again in 2016, spending all of our political capital and emotional energy attacking him doesn’t seem like a good use of resources.  Be that as it may, conservatives are Obama is still Target No. 1.  There certainly is a lot to get fired up about, most notably the way in which Obama seized upon Sandy Hook as an excuse to seize guns.  Nothing will come of it, of course, since there are too many Democrats who like guns too, but Obama has successfully framed the issue to be one of life- and child-loving Democrats squaring off against gun-crazed, child-murdering Republicans.

Rather than running about like headless chickens who are still trying to peck the President to death with details, we might do better focusing on very specific weaknesses and not letting those weaknesses vanish from the public eye.  To me, the most obvious are (a) the economy and (b) his handling of Benghazi.

Backstabbing

Not content with putting even more effort into tactics that have been proven failures, Republicans are adding something new:  finger-pointing and back-stabbing.  Stephen Sondheim’s “It’s Your Fault,” from Into The Woods, summarizes perfectly the spectacle that Republicans are now making of themselves:

Here’s the thing: Anger can only last so long and fire us up so much. After anger comes depression, which some say is anger turned inward, but I say depression is anger exhausted.

If even true believers like me are turned off and are tuning out because of this relentless negativity and internecine viciousness, can you imagine what’s going on with ordinary, rather disengaged voters?  On the one hand they have an ebullient, confident President who has proudly announced an “inclusive” agenda (never mind that it excludes the 49% of the country that didn’t vote for him) and, on the other hand, we have a dispirited, mean-spirited, flabby conservative movement.

Not only do people like winners, they dislike sore losers.  Worse, the media isn’t there to pick up the pieces for us as it did when Bush kept the White House for a second term.  Instead, it’s going to prey on our relentless negativity, magnify it, and throw it back at us — all while the American people shy away from the political party that smells like old roadkill.

Well, that was my own carping and finger-pointing.  It was a necessary premise to what comes next in this post — coming up with a strategy to re-position conservatives as a winning team.

It’s tempting to begin by trying, yet again, to define conservativism.  I’m not going to make the mistake, however, of sticking myself onto that tar baby.  Unlike the relentlessly lockstep Progressives, whose allegiance to the party line helps them win, conservatives are a diverse lot.  Some have had way too much schooling and some have had less than they would have liked.  Some are already wealthy and some hope to be wealthy.  Some live in urban areas, some in suburban enclaves, and some live on farms or in the back woods.  Some have roots reaching back centuries in America (black or white, Asian or Hispanic), while some are recent immigrants from every part of the globe.  Some are pro-Choice and some are pro-Life.  Most support the Second Amendment, but with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Patriotism

Indeed, when I think about it, there are only two things I can say with absolute certainty about American conservatives:  This first is that they truly love America.  It’s a pure love.  They believe that America is an exceptional place, not in spite of her founding principles, but because of them.  While they recognize that America has erred in the past, they also understand that she, unlike just about any other country in the world, has corrected herself, sometimes at the cost of much spilled American blood.

In this undiluted patriotism, conservatives differ from the Left, which loves America as a wife-beater loves his wife:  “I show my love for my wife by focusing only on her flaws and failings.  And because I really love her, I routinely beat the crap out of her to help her improve herself.”

The second thread binding conservatives is that they want smaller, cheaper Federal government.  They differ on how much smaller and how much cheaper, but they recognize two things about the government we have.  The first is that it’s breaking the bank, which may not worry Obama, but which is very worrisome for those who have the wits to see what happens to Western countries that go bankrupt.  Today’s news shows as Greece, which is becoming scarily primitive; yesterday’s news shows us post-WWI Germany, that responded to economic chaos by inviting genocidal socialists into the Reichstag.

The second thing conservatives recognize when they look at Obama’s inauguration announcement that he intends to keep spending taxpayer money to enlarge the federal government is that bigger government means less individual freedom.  Conservatives may disagree about the precise amount of individual freedom necessary for happiness, but they’re pretty sure that individuals aren’t happy when the state has too much control over their lives.

Knowing that patriotism and individual freedom are the ties that bind conservatives, shouldn’t we be embarking upon a campaign to appeal to them and, moreover, to show them that we conservatives are Happy Warriors, not whining, vicious losers?  It’s my rhetorical question, so I get to answer with a resounding YES.

Ronald Reagan - the Happy Warrior

Having answered my question to my satisfaction, the remaining question becomes what form should this Reagan-esque Happy Warrior initiative take?  Here’s a list of three things we can do:

1.  Write to your favorite radio hosts (Rush, Sean, Dennis, Hugh, Mark, etc.) and ask them to devote at least one hour a week to highlighting the good that is America.  Even better, have this pro-America hour reach out to minorities who share conservative values, but who have been scared into thinking that the Republicans are the party of White Supremacists and the KKK.  It’s useless to point out that this kind of racism was the Democrats’ stock in trade.  In the here and now, Republicans are stuck with that label and need to counter it.  What better way than to interview a Vietnamese woman who escaped the fall of Saigon, came to America with nothing, started a business, raised a family, and now can point to successful children and grandchildren, all of whom, after leaving college, went to work in the family’s thriving business.  Ditto for the Nicaraguan man who escaped the Death Squads, the East Asian family who fled their small village’s grinding poverty, and the black woman who broke free from the crime and degradation of America’s welfare-funded inner cities.

2.  Instead of carping about Progressives on Facebook or Twitter (which preaches to the choir without converting anyone else), keep posting American success stories that are premised on traditional American values:  hard work, honesty, self-reliance, etc.

3.  Leave comments on this blog (or write to me:  Bookwormroom *at* gmail.com), giving practical suggestions for revitalizing a positive conservativism that engages people.  I want concrete initiatives that ordinary conservatives can do on a daily basis, whether shopping, seeking out entertainment, socializing, working, blogging, etc., that will help to advance a positive, welcoming vision of conservativism that’s predicated on an abiding patriotism and a belief that federal government must become smaller and cheaper.

Everybody likes a winner.  We’re not winning right now, but it behooves us to start projecting a winning attitude.  Otherwise, we’re just going to be the crazy uncle in the attic who scares voters away.

UPDATE:  WIN!  (Hat tip: JKB and Newmark’s Door.)

Sheldon Adelson: Put aside social conservativism to reclaim America

I promise that this post will be about what Sheldon Adelson had to say in an interview with Alana Goodman of Commentary Magazine.  Before I get there, though, I need to begin with a little story of my own.

Readers of my newsletter know that I had lunch last week with seven other conservative women here in Marin.  We had all found each other more or less by accident, not because any of us in Marin have proudly worn our conservativism in the open (our kids would be ostracized if we did), but because we listened for the little clues in their words that hinted at a conservative orientation.  We then risked exposing ourselves by asking, “Uh, are you by any chance  . . . um, you know, conserva-mumble, mumble, mumble?”

That shyness, of course, was before the last election.  Since the 2012 election, we’ve all made a vow to each other to be more open about our political identity and to challenge liberals who lead with unfounded conclusions that demonize conservatives and their beliefs or that confer saintly virtues on Obama and his cadre.

Interestingly, the eight of us were a microcosm of conservative views, ranging from fiscally conservative but socially liberal conservatives all the way to both fiscally and socially conservatives.  Our common denominator, of course, was fiscal conservativism. Dig deeper, and there were two other common denominators:  an abiding belief in the Constitution’s continued relevance to modern America and a fierce devotion to individual liberty.

Where we differed was (a) gay marriage and (b) abortion.  With regard to abortion, we did have one overarching point of agreement, which was that abortion is not a federal issue and should therefore be returned to the states.  When it came to gay marriage, all of us were willing to recognize gay unions, but we differed about whether the answer is to declare gay marriage the law of the land or, instead, to preserve marriage for religious institutions, while making civil unions across the board (both straight and gay) the law of the land.  As regular readers know, I hew to the second view, which acknowledges human relationships and state goals, without interfering in any way with religious freedom.

I walked away from the lunch realizing as clearly as I ever have that the strong fiber weaving us together is fiscal conservativism and individual liberty.  The frayed strands at the edges are what are commonly called “social issues.”

The Democrats, recognizing that the quickest way to shred a piece of fabric is to tear at the frayed edges, rather than to try to destroy the sturdy center, worked hard during the election to blow the gay-marriage and abortion dog whistles.  As the race in Missouri showed, social conservativism is a political landmine that routinely explodes in the face of struggling Republican candidates.  Todd Akin could have won that race if he hadn’t been asked about abortion.  When thinking about Akin’s repulsive and misinformed answer, which provided a solid Progressive rallying cry, don’t forget Richard Mourdock. His experience proves that, even if Akin had given a principled pro-Life answer, he still would have been pilloried and destroyed.

I’m a big believer that, when it comes to social issues, culture drives politics, rather than politics driving culture.  For the past forty years, social liberals have been planted very firmly in the driver’s seat.  They have infiltrated both media and education, which has given them the chance to shape a generation’s social views.  They have sensitized this generation’s ears so that the dog whistles most people under 55 hear the loudest aren’t “debt” or “fiscal cliff” or “responsibility,” but are, instead, “women haters,” “homophobes” and “racists.”

What this cultural transformation means is that, in the short term, conservatives can win on the fiscal side (and, possibly, on the individual liberties side) because people haven’t been deafened by decades of dog whistles on those subjects.  Until we take back the culture, though, which we do exactly the same way the Left did — namely, a slow march through the culture — we will invariably lose on social issues.  Significantly as the most recent election shows, losing on social issues inevitably means losing on all issues.

Now, finally, have established my premise about the way in which social issues invariably play against conservatives in national elections, I can get to Sheldon Adelson’s interview in Commentary Magazine.  For purposes of this essay, Sheldon Adelson is important for three reasons.  First, he is a conservative who is willing to put his money where his mouth is (unlike Warren Buffet, a true-to-form liberal who wants to put other people’s money where his mouth is).  The second reason Adelson is important is that, after his emergence as a money-player in this election, the Left has worked as hard to demonize him as they did to demonize the Koch Brothers and Mitt Romney.  And the third reason is that Sheldon Adelson agrees with me that conservatives cannot win on social issues:

For someone whose name and face were a regular staple of the election coverage, the public does have many misconceptions about Adelson. His liberal social views rarely received media attention during the campaign season, though he’s certainly never hidden them.

“See that paper on the wall?” he asked, gesturing toward a poster with rows of names on it. “That is a list of some of the scientists that we give a lot of money to conduct collaborative medical research, including stem cell research. What’s wrong if I help stem cell research? I’m all in favor. And if somebody wants to have an abortion, let them have an abortion,” he said.

[snip]

Adelson has not said whether he will use his influence to try to change the GOP internally. But he does believe social issues cost the Republicans the last election.

“If we took a softer stance on those several issues, social issues, that I referred to, then I think that we would have won the most recent election,” he said. “I think people got the impression that Republicans didn’t care about certain groups of people.”

You should definitely read the whole interview.

Adelson is precisely what my self-admitted conservative friends are:  fiscally conservative, socially fairly liberal, very receptive to legal immigration (because a nation, for health, national security, and economic reasons should control its own borders), and supportive of Israel.  What’s funny, though, is that Adelson is also pretty close in actual outlook to all the upscale, white collar liberals I know who reflexively vote Democrat because of the conservative issues.  These people are also fiscally conservative in their own lives; they what their country safe and fiscally sound for their children; they like immigrants but recognize that illegal immigrants pose risks both for American citizens and legal, Green Card immigrants; and they like Israel’s values.

The problem at the ballot box is that, after forty years of Leftist indoctrination, these educated liberals are unable to harmonize their values with their politics.  Despite recognizing the wisdom of fiscal management in their own homes, they think a state can survive indefinitely by spending more than it takes in; despite training their children in self-reliance, they believe that we should destroy self-reliance in “the poor”; despite believing that people should be able to protect themselves and their homes, they are embarrassed when their country tries to defend itself; and despite admiring a pluralist, democratic society, which is what Israel is, they bemoan the plight of the poor Palestinians who have allowed their (now sovereign) territory to devolve in a crazy mix of anarchism and Islamic fundamentalism.

What makes this cognitive dissonance possible for white collar liberals is their unswerving allegiance to unlimited abortions and (of late) to gay marriage. Just as fiscal conservativism, the Constitution, and individual freedom bind conservatives of all stripes together, so too do abortion and gay marriage (with a soupçon of illegal immigration) bind together Progressives of all stripes.  We cannot entice Progressives to fiscal conservativism if we insist on a purity test for abortion and gay marriage.  It’s just not going to happen.  And here’s the kicker:  abortion and gay marriage become moot issues if our nation collapses entirely under the weight of debt or if our walls our breached by Islamists or if we become “tuberculosis central” because we cannot assert even a modicum of polite control over our borders.

As a parent, I hew socially conservative, so those are values I want to advance.  But I’m a pragmatist who recognizes that the ballot box isn’t the place to make it happen.  The ballot box is how we manage issues of sovereignty (including national security and border control) and fiscal health.  Our social institutions are where we make headway on social issues.  If we can keep those lines from crossing, we can be a resurgent conservative political party and, eventually, a somewhat more traditional America, one that preserves the best and healthiest social policies of the past and the present.

 

The problem isn’t the candidates; it’s the voters

I’m still reading scattered posts castigating Mitt Romney for being a bad candidate or running a bad campaign.  I understand the need to analyze failures to identify remediable errors, but we’re making a huge mistake focusing on the end of the campaign, rather than the beginning.  One could say the beginning of the campaign is the Republican primary that resulted in a nice, bland, classic Republican technocrat.  It’s the voters’ fault Romney went head-to-head with Obama.  But that conclusion still doesn’t reach far enough into the past to explain Romney’s failure.

Romney failed because the American public has been trained to vote against Republicans.  This isn’t as random or obvious a thought as it seems (although I’ll concede that it is pretty obvious).  It has special meaning for me, because I’m getting together with some conservative gals who have ties to recent Republican candidates.  One of them is married to a man who, some time ago, tried to displace Lynn Woolsey in the House of Representatives.  Woolsey will be retiring this January, but she’s probably quite satisfied that she can look back at decades of far-Left Progressive politicking in Washington.  Two of the others with whom I’m lunching are gals I last saw at a lunch for Elizabeth Emken, who lost to Dianne Feinstein.

Wendell Willkie, another Republican candidate who looked as if he ought to have won.

Both Republican candidates were fabulous by any normal standard:  intelligent, attractive, principled, and honorable.  In the 1940s, they would have been central casting picks for the good guy’s perfect political candidate.  Both of them ran against incumbents who didn’t even bother to campaign.  I’m not guilty of hyperbole when I saw that.  Neither Woolsey nor Feinstein did anything beyond putting up a few signs.  Both women knew that the Republican candidates weren’t worth fighting.

Woolsey’s and Feinstein’s certainty — which proved to be correct — clearly wasn’t because the Republicans were lousy candidates.  Woolsey and Feinstein could afford to do nothing because they knew that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell that California and Marin voters would vote for a Republican.  The Democrat political takeover is so complete that even God himself, if he ran as a Republican, would lose.

The late, great Andrew Breitbart understood that the problem isn’t politics, it’s culture.  Politics is just the final step in a culture’s trajectory.  Roger Simon exhorts conservatives to focus on the culture and force a change as quickly as possible:

As the late — and increasingly lamented — Andrew Breitbart pointed out repeatedly, “Politics is downstream from culture.”

Just how downstream we saw in this year’s election. Virtually every accusation made by the left toward Republicans and conservatives (sexism, racism, greed, etc.) was prepared and nurtured in the realm of culture. That was the earth in which the lies grew and prospered. And those lies, more than any facts or policies, were responsible for a liberal victory in a year — with unemployment at 8 percent and a deficit at 16 trillion — that should have been a Republican rout.

Put simply, give up on the culture and you lose forever. (It’s hard enough with the media and the educational system rigged the way they are.)

So my point is quite simple. Quit bitching and start doing.

Roger’s right.  Run for the local school board or town council (neither of which require you to state party affiliation).  Get onto the community college board.  Stop going to popular movies that have anti-American themes.  You can live without seeing the latest action flick, but the movie producers cannot live without your money.

On Facebook and at parties, politely argue with vapid Progressive conclusions.  I did so the other day on Facebook, and got an arch liberal to agree that the UN is a despotic organization that should be done away with.  I don’t think he’d ever thought about that before.  And I did it all by politely questioning conclusions that the Progressives in the debate couldn’t support and by advancing facts that they couldn’t deny.

We keep thinking that, because our ideas are sound, they don’t need explanation or promotion.  In the meanwhile, the Progressive Left has long understood that, because it’s ideas do not work well in the real world, but only in the Petri dish of the Leftist mind, they can become ascendant only through relentless promotion.  What we never realized was that most people don’t think, they just “know” — or think they “know.”  But really, they’re just like a shopper buying one brand of peanut butter over the other because the brand she selects has a better jingle that has formed part of a permanent soundtrack in her mind.

We need to start jingling folks — every one of us, in every way we can.  We can’t all be Andrew Breitbart, but we can be soldiers in his cultural army.

UPDATE: Welcome, Maggie’s Farm readers. If you enjoy this post, I invite you to check out the whole site. And if you like what you see, think about subscribing to the Bookworm Room newsletter.

Practical suggestions for bypassing the media and getting the conservative message out

My forte is spotting problems, not finding solutions.  Thankfully, when I put out a call for suggestions, many of you responded.  This post sets out practical list ways to get conservative messaging past the media gatekeepers that so effectively insulted Romney, praised Obama, and squelched or promoted news stories depending upon whether they help or hurt Obama.  The media is a giant roadblock that we have to (a) plow through; (b) climb over; and (c) go around.  I’ll begin with multiple suggestions from my good friend Lulu, who is both fired-up and creative.  Then I’ll move on to all of your practical suggestions.

From Lulu:

Perhaps we can do a little community organizing ourselves.  There is no question that people like conservative ideas. I see them constantly in my (parenting) workshops with nodding heads all around when I make conservative points, regardless of ethnicity and, presumably, political affiliation. People agree because what I say is common sense and people don’t realize the ideas are conservative.

The following are my ideas but, as you read them, remember that the key thing with these, or any other ideas, is to act quickly.  We have very little time to educate Americans at the grass-roots level.  The Left patiently worked for 60 years to reeducate Americans.  We have to work faster.  This means that, if you know of a person or organization with money and an interest in conservative causes, we must move immediately to go beyond intellectual think tanks and blogs that preach mostly to the choir.

Step 1:  Rebrand ourselves.  Abandon the name Conservative and change it to something that correctly identifies our principles while defying Leftist insults.  Some suggestions are Realists, Common Sense Party, Constitution Party.  Let’s have a contest, with the winning name going to Reince Priebus.  More than that, starting immediately, we should identify ourselves with this new name and leave “Conservative” behind. By the way, my favorite is “Realist,” because it implies the other side is Utopian and fantasy based, which it is.

Step 2:  Take good ideas to people with deep pockets.  People like the Kochs and Sheldon Adelson are deeply committed to core conservative ideas.  Too often, though, they have a traditional approach to spending their money.  The Kochs, for example, keep supporting NPR shows.  Other rich conservatives endow universities that loath conservative ideas.  We need to contact wealthy conservatives and pitch them on ways to spend their money that will shift the paradigm.  No conservative should ever buy another wing for Harvard or Yale, or for any other organization that is antithetical to core constitutional, realistic, free-market values.

Step 3:  Create an all new cable channel, something that is best done with help from a wealthy conservative donor.  One of the things that would be a great gift to America from wealth conservatives would be a new cable channel that isn’t specifically identified as “conservative” or “Christian.”  Instead, it would just be a new entertainment channel with fun, funny, exciting programming that, merely coincidentally, entices people with core values and ideas.  Remember, the existing entertainment industry has done this on TV since the late 1950s when it started slipping Progressive ideas into shows that were ostensibly “mere” entertainment.

We need a new cable channel devoted all day to Realist principles.  Importantly, it cannot claim to be or call itself Christian or Conservative, since that will instantly drive away those we’re trying to educate. Instead, it’s got to be all about entertainment, with values slipped in like a bitter pill buried in a sweet.

A wonderful thing to do would be talk shows (a la Oprah or The View) with women, conservative gays, minorities, etc., as the hosts.  These shows would be all heart and deal with people’s day-to-day realities, just as Oprah did.  The difference would be that the lovingly-given solutions and messages would focus on individualism, personal responsibility and other tried-and-true core values, rather than on Big Government, finger-pointing, and identity politics.

The cable channel could also have reality shows.  One idea would be a show called “The American Immigrant,” which could have inspiring stories about people from all over the world who came to America and made it through their own efforts.  This type of show would emphasize a core American identity that rises above race, country of origin, religion, and sexual orientation, thereby fighting the diversity cascade that has left America so fragmented.

Another show, which would be a great daytime show, would be a parenting program with solutions that fall back on old-fashioned principles, such as personal responsibility, honor, hard work, etc.  No one involved in the show would breathe the word “conservative,” but traditional values would inform its parenting ideas and solutions.

Another reality show might focus on American philanthropy, at home and abroad.  Watching an hour about the good work of Operation Smile or Smile Train, both of which provide doctors around the world to help children born with cleft palates, would help remind us that we are a good, generous, and very fortunate nation.

And why in the world are we burying our humor at 3 a.m. (Greg Gutfield’s Red Eye) or leaving brilliant humorists like Steve Crowder to fight to be visible on the internet?  Why is Dennis Miller’s main platform the radio?  I love it that he’s there, but can’t his informed, lightly edgy, sardonic humor grace a TV show too?  Too often, we’re all talk and no entertainment.  People want to be entertained. Humor is a great medium for introducing new values.

The cable channel could also have history shows for children.  Again, they wouldn’t proselytize directly, but they’d offer a view of America that combats the Howard Zinn view that currently permeates their education from kindergarten through graduate school.  One of the main things to do would be to educate people beyond their simplistic, ill-informed belief that the Constitution is simply a slave document.  We should have a fun show (good graphics, interesting facts, humor) that puts the Constitution in context and, most importantly, explains how the Bill of Rights came about and why it matters.

We could also have documentaries with pro-Israel histories, honest stories about Communism (let’s talk Soviet gulags and Chinese re-education camps), and Fast and Furious exposes.  Another fruitful idea would be to team with F.I.R.E., a non-partisan organization, to create a show making people aware of free speech restrictions on campus.

Fox itself should be encouraged to offer daytime talk shows, or perhaps to create a new affiliate — something along the lines of “Fox Social.”  Again, this wouldn’t be “conservative TV.”  Instead, it would be fun, human, empathetic, and based upon conservative and realist values.  Indeed, it might be useful for the station to have a lot of entirely content-neutral shows, such as cooking or home decorating shows, just to drive up the audience.

Step 4:  Conservative movies.  This is a no-brainer.  I keep waiting for Declaration Entertainment to make something more than wonderful videos and, instead, to head for the big screen.  When it does, conservative bloggers should support it with everything they’ve got.  And speaking of support, conservatives who love movies need to go Cold Turkey and stop supporting Hollywood.  We give the Left a free pass when we whine about their movies but still pay money to see them.

Step 5:  Stop complaining about how Progressives use the courts to achieve their ends, and starting doing the same ourselves:  We have advocacy groups fighting for churches, for pro-Life causes, etc.  It’s time to get a legal advocacy group that fights for equal access to publicly funded institutions.  That group needs to (1) sue PBS and NPR to get 50% ideological diversity in every minute of their programming; (2) sue every publicly funded school in America (from kindergarten on up) to force ideological diversity in its faculty; (3) start having a say in local school boards.

This last is an important one.  To date, the only school board fights in America have been about evolution versus creationism (a fight that goes back to the 1920s), and about books that supposed advocate witchcraft.  We need to start making the school board and education department curriculum fights about conservative values and about equal presentation of those values.  The fight should focus on economics (free-market versus Big Government), American identity (get rid of Zinn or at least counterbalance him), and national security (we’re not evil when we protect ourselves).

From Lee:

If you’re a convert from liberalism, figure out what made you convert.  Maybe we should all just focus on converting one person a month, each of us. And for every ten of us, in one year, there will be 100 (figuring that some conversions won’t “take”) and in two years, 200 . . . and so on.  (I, Bookworm, will add that using the Leftist approach of personal attack and name-calling will not convert them.  They will just avoid you.  Entice them with ideas, common sense, empathy, and the Dennis Prager trick of creating clarity, which often leads to agreement.  Incidentally, my experience with the Dennis Prager approach is that people invariably end up agreeing with my realist ideas, rather than my agreeing with their Leftist ones.  I still haven’t gotten them to change their knee-jerk Democrat party affiliation, but I’m working on it.)

From jj:

Fight for it as if you want it.  jj’s right.  He’s not talking about mean fighting for a political office, because you want to win.  He’s talking about fighting for an ideological world view.  Romney’s goal was the presidency; our goal can’t be that limited.  We have to use enthusiasm, energy, and creativity to change the zeitgeist.  It’s not about winning elections; it’s about changing the paradigm.

From Bookworm:

Figure out a way to convince young people that there’s nothing cool, hip, and rebellious about embracing establishment politics, pushed by old guys and gals in Washington, on Madison Avenue, and in Hollywood.  What kids should view as cool, hip, and edgy, is to think for themselves and to reject the media sales pitch that inundates them.

All of us should put our money where our mouths are.  One easy thing to do is to supp0rt the band Madison Rising, rather than the dopes who use their music to preach racism, welfare, and violence.  If Madison Rising can making a living providing hard-driving conservative rock, other groups will get inspired.  Lee echoes my belief that we should use the marketplace to change the zeitgeist.

A lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking has been talking about, “Oooooh! We must find ways to broaden our appeal to women and to Hispanics.” I think WE don’t need to “broaden our appeal” (i.e., change to become Progressive? What else can that mean?) But what we need to do is to EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATE WHAT IT IS WE ARE ABOUT. And such as it is, the route of effective communication is controlled by the “lame stream media.”

So, how do we get Rachel Maddow and Soledad O’Brien, and Chris Matthews OUT? And the voices of reason in? I say, put our money where our mouths are. STOP WATCHING ANY PBS AT ALL!!!! No more Big Bird! (Okay, so CNN’s rating are in the tank. And Jon Stewart doesn’t have a huge audience either, comparatively speaking.) Make demands of advertisers and sponsors: Stop supporting the lies propagated by the “Main Stream” Media, or we will stop buying Mr. Clean.

Someone else (here or at another blog) suggested an Oprah for the Conservatives. (I forget who they specifically mentioned.) I love that idea. Not an “Oprah FOR THE CONSERVATIVES” so much, and an Oprah who happens to be conservative. Because really, a lot of the Oprah fans are deep down inside conservative about a lot of things. Money matters to most people. And with a popular day time talk show personality making the info Keynes and Hayek and Bastiat accessible to the masses via mass media, well, we could educate oodles of concerned couch potatoes.

I learned a loooooooong time ago that it is virtually impossible to argue with liars. And I have never solved that problem, except LIE ONE’S SELF. If you don’t have the facst at hand, make some up. And if they challenge you, challenge them to prove it. That’s what they do. And that is what happened in this election and one four years ago… And the MEDIA HELPED WITH THE LYING!!!

From Don Quixote:

First, we must get over this notion that anyone who disagrees with us is ignorant and immoral.  Certainly, many on the left (especially in the leadership) are both of those things.  But there are millions upon millions of highly moral people who simply disagree with us.  Many of these people are open to being made less ignorant and persuaded to our cause.

Second, we must pay attention to the message and how we present it.  Obama’s ads were dishonest, but sharp and persuasive.  Romney’s ads were unfocused and ineffective.

For example, here in central Florida, with its many retirees, Obama ran weeks of ads saying that Romney would turn Medicare into a voucher program, basically telling seniors that their own Medicare was in peril.  Bookworm posted a reasonably effective (though too short) commercial featuring our own Senator Rubio.  So far as I saw, it never ran here.  Instead, Obama’s ad went unanswered for weeks.  Finally, in the last few days of the campaign, Romney ran ads clarifying that his plan would not change Medicare for anyone over 55 and would give a choice to anyone under 55, and even that ad didn’t say what the choice was.   That ad was far too little and far too late.

[snip]

Third, we must find ways to stand firm in our principles while being flexible in our positions.  For example, it would not violate our principles to support a path to citizenship for all immigrants who seek it.  America is a land of immigrants and it is, if anything, against conservative principles to close the borders to those who seek a better life here.  I believe that we could be more successful among Hispanic voters, and completely consistent with our principles, if we put forward a plan that (a) allowed a short path to citizenship for all who sought it, but (b) cut off benefits to all those who did not seek citizenship.  Immigrants who are now here illegally would be given the opportunity to choose which course they desired.  I believe a plan can be put together that would, at a minimum, not turn off Hispanic voters but still be true to conservative values.  If that much is accomplished, Hispanics will become Republicans in large numbers because they largely share conservative values, especially regarding family and religion.

Incidentally, regarding our ad communication failures, Don Quixote doesn’t just point out a problem with Romney ads, he offers solutions that could be used for all Realist (or Individualist or Free Market) ads.

Ultimately, we are helpless only if we are inert.  If we sit and spin ideas around in our heads and just talk to each other, reinforcing our own beliefs, we will lose.  We must sell our ideas outside of the usual circles.  Further we can win only if we find common ground with the identity groups Obama targeted (women, minorities, gays, etc.).  While we may have marginal disagreements with those groups, my suspicion is that there’s still time (but only just) to bring them together with us on core free-market, individualist, constitutional values.

Conservatives need a new ground game

Maybe I’m in denial, but I’m feeling less depressed than I felt last night and this morning.  Part of my more sanguine attitude is based upon a Taranto principle, which is that Obama now owns the events of the next four years:

Obama has spent the past four years explaining away his failings by essentially arguing he is the best of all possible presidents–that he has done as well as any man could given the “mess” he “inherited” from his predecessor. It is certainly true that he took office under adverse circumstances. But so will whoever takes office Jan. 20. In fact, things are about to get a lot worse because of decisions taken but deferred during the Obama years.

The mess today’s winner will inherit includes not only high unemployment and slow growth but impending policy changes that threaten to make those problems worse. On Jan. 1, unless Congress acts, the Bush tax cuts expire–or, to put it another way, “massive, job-killing tax increases” are about to take effect (that quote is from President Obama). If Obama gets his way–which he likely would if re-elected–Congress will forestall the hike only for taxpayers making under $200,000 or $250,000 a year. That would be good for those fortunate enough to have jobs, but it would not change the tax increase’s job-killing nature, as it would hit investors and small businesses hard.

Then there’s ObamaCare. Although enacted nearly three years ago, it was written so that most of its provisions would not take effect until the next presidential term. “The bottled-up rules to set up President Barack Obama’s health care reform law are going to start flowing quickly right after Election Day,” Politico reports. “As soon as Wednesday, the gears and levers of government bureaucracy are likely to start moving at full speed again.”

The scale of the messes Taranto describes makes it unlikely that Romney could have been a successful president.  At best, he might have stemmed an economic or national security collapse, but I doubt he could actually have improved things.  The systems for self-destruction — massive debt, vast entitlement expectations, ObamaCare beginning to weave into the warp and woof of our social and economic fabric, a dangerous world outside of America’s borders — are already deeply entrenched.  Four years won’t fix them.  (Which may be why voters ignored Obama’s empty 2008 promises and decided that he really need 8 years to fulfill the hope and change manifesto.)

But, but . . . what about Reagan?  He also inherited a dangerous world and an unhealthy economy.  That’s true — but he inherited a different ground game.  Political correctness didn’t exist then.  Skin color diversity (offset by ideological homogeneity) was at the beginning of its trajectory, not the peak.  People still viewed government aid as something one first earned or, if one didn’t earn it, as something one accepted with some degree of embarrassment.  Now, even with no pay-in, they view it as a right, with no shame attached.  In Reagan’s day, our troops hadn’t been fighting a blood-and-guts war for eight years (as opposed to a massive Cold War chess game) against an enemy that neither the Republican nor the Democrat President willingly named.  In Reagan’s day, the intelligentsia may have tried to downplay the Soviet Union, but ordinary people still knew that it was indeed the Evil Empire.  Israel was still loved, not hated, so Americans supported a president who supported Israel.

The ground game has changed.  As Roger Simon says,

So we have a problem with democracy. It’s not working or, more specifically, has been turned on its end, with the masses manipulated against their own self-interest, creating power elites similar to those described in Milovan Djilas’ The New Class.

How did that happen? I think many of us know there are three pillars of our own destruction: the educational system, the media and entertainment (the popular arts).

Those three areas are so corrupted those who legitimately are on the center-right (or anywhere close to it) will increasingly find themselves swimming upstream against a current so great who knows where it will take them. (Think Hayek, Orwell, etc.) We must address ourselves to these three immediately before it is too late. In many ways, it already is. Culture is the mother of politics and mother is turning into Medea.

Okay, fine.  We fight the wars we’re given, not the wars we want.  So here’s my thinking.

As I said, I’m less depressed than I was because I think our culture is such that, no matter who occupies the White House, bad things are going to happen.  Really bad things, both with our economy and our national security.  Seeing as I think the coming hurt is inevitable, I’d rather it happens on a Democrat’s than on a Republican’s watch.  If I’m wrong, I’ll eat crow and begin to consider whether my political leanings of the past eight years have been a temporary aberration, and I’ll even contemplate returning to my liberal roots.  (Unlikely, but if the next four years are an American boom time, we’ll all need to rethink our belief systems.)

Accepting the inevitable, how do we fight back?  As polite conservatives, we’ve always tried to work through the ballot box.  We’ve decried the bias in media (including PBS, which we pay for), academia, and education, but we really haven’t done anything about it.  We tried to vote for people who would stop funding PBS and we whined on websites about the indoctrination at our children’s schools.  We’ve still paid to watch movies and we tune in to TV.

We resent the system, but we work within in.  For all that we talk about the ageless wonders of our Constitution and free-market principles generally, we are short-term thinkers, who keep believing (all evidence to the contrary) that we can kill the Progressive tree, not by attacking the roots, but by taking an axe to the tip-top of the tree through honestly brokered elections.  The fact is that the cultural battle is so one-sided (against our side) that we’d probably lose even honestly brokered elections, ones that did not involve massive fraud and media malfeasance.

We keep doing trying the same failed tactic, even though we recognize that the strong Democrat victories resulted, not because the Left voted, but because they spent 60 years going after America’s social and intellectual infrastructure.  The numbers of actual Lefties are probably pretty small; the number of people who have been taught to vote Democrat without thinking what it really means, is huge.

William F. Buckley figured out the problem in the 1950s and started a cultural counter attack, which ended with the Reagan ascendency.  Whew!  That was it.  We won.  Yay.  We won forever.  NOT.  The Left never stopped its ground game.  Indeed, during and after the Reagan years (including during the Clinton years), the hard Left consolidated its hold over cultural institutions.  We just watched and whined.

We cannot do that anymore.  For the next four years, conservatives need to stop worrying about this candidate or that candidate (which is all we ever do) and we need to start wooing the masses.

My friend Lulu, who comments here and who has been an occasional guest poster, called me today with a wonderful idea:  Star Parker.  Okay, you’re right.  Star Parker is a wonderful person, not a wonderful idea, but she’s the symbol for my friend’s idea.  We don’t need to run Star Parker for office, we need to run her for talk show host, a la Oprah.  She’s engaging, approachable, intelligent, conservative and black.  I hate to add the last, because I don’t like to judge people by the color of their skin, but I’m in minority.  I live in my head, so I relate to people intellectually.  Most don’t.  They need other people to look like them in order to start feeling comfortable with their ideas.

The talk show idea, though is the right one.  We know that most people aren’t high-level thinkers when it comes to politics but are, instead, low-level, emotional reactors.  I do not mean that they are stupid.  I just mean that, when it comes to politics, they engage in a non-abstract, non-theoretical, non-intellectual level.  The old saying is that, if the mountain won’t come to Mohamed, than Mohamed must go to the mountain.  We need to reach out to non-engaged voters by meeting them at their level, rather than insisting that they meet us at ours.

Admittedly, our conservative social infrastructure is limited.  Liberals own the media and the entertainment world.  But how did they get there?  They pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed.  We need to start pushing too.  We need talk shows, even if they start on cable or internet.  We also need to take a page out of the Leftist handbook and start using the courts.  For example, Lulu suggested that, as taxpayers, we have standing to sue PBS to demand that, as long as public broadcasting gets public monies, it must devote 50% of its programming time to conservative programs.  After all, for decades, simply because they rented public airwaves, TV and radio were required to be  neutral.  Why isn’t PBS?

When it comes to Hollywood, we need to come together an create alternatives.  Stop spending your money on movies by people who hate us.  Why are we doing that?  And we should take the money we didn’t spend on the haters and invest it in movie makers (such as Declaration Entertainment) that will make entertaining movies that don’t hit us over the head with their message, but that feed it to us subliminally.  (When we do make movies we always go for the iron hand, rather than the velvet glove).  The Left figured this one out, as Ben Shapiro explains in Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV.  We too can change the paradigm without being obvious.

And why are we, who pay most of the taxes, allowing publicly funded schools to discriminate against conservative teachers? We sit back and cheer when an individual conservative teacher sues after being denied tenure, but we’ve never had a taxpayer suit saying that, just as student body’s have to be diverse, so should faculty — and that this diversity includes not discriminating against belief systems.  In other words, we have to redefine diversity so that it encompasses ideology as well as (or instead of) skin color.

We also have to advertise ourselves better.  As Romney’s campaign (and McCain’s and Bush’s too) showed, Republican political “leaders” find our ideology embarrassing and seek to wrap it up in gauzy, often impenetrable, platitudes.  One of my readers, Fern, suggests that our campaigns have a musty, fuzzy look.  The Left identifies us as backwards, reactionary, etc., and we yield.  We’ve certainly given the Left linguistic control.  They’re “Progressive” and “Forward.”  We’re fuddy-duddy “conservatives.”

Obama, a child of the Left, understands that words matter, more than the fact that these so-called Progressives keep trying to recycle ideas that failed in all nations that have tried them.  They’ve got the glamor and the gloss, and those gimmicks sell in a superficial world.

One of the first and easiest things we can do is to start with re-branding.  Keep in mind that calling conservatives “right wing” harks back to the 18th century French parliament, when the non-revolutionaries sat on the right side of the hall.  Is that how we want to identify ourselves — as relics of the ancien regime?  “Conservative” too makes us sound like a bunch of reactionary codgers who can be painted as desirous of slavery (never mind that the Republicans freed the slaves), Jim Crow-lovers (never mind that Republicans opposed Jim Crow), and misogynists (never mind that Republicans are in the vanguard of fighting Muslims and Chinese Communists who treat women and girl babies like disposable property).

It turns out that, in a media rich world, Shakespeare was wrong.  That which we call rose, by any other name does not smell as sweet.  With that in mind, how about starting to call ourselves “Individualists” or “the Freedom Party” or something like that?  Liberals successfully (and mostly under the radar) rebranded themselves as Progressives, leaving behind the musty Victorian taint of “liberalism.”  If they can do it, why can’t we?

Truly, the wake-up call we received yesterday is not about 2012 or even about 2016.  It is about our finally understanding that the opposition has long had a better strategy and endless institutional patience.  We won only when there were still enough voters who hadn’t been indoctrinated.  In 2008, there weren’t enough of us remaining to tilt the scales.  The Left attacked America at the root, and we need to take it back at precisely the same level.

The battle is over.  The war has begun.  Consider this post Ground Zero.  If you have ideas — practical, non-whining ideas that ordinary people can put into effect — post them in the comments section, and we’ll see how far we can disseminate them.  For starters, I am no longer a conservative.  I am an “individualist” who supports a “Freedom Party,” as opposed to a “statist” who supports “Big Government.”

UPDATE:  Others thinking about a new ground game too –

The Colossus of Rhodey

Don Quixote (at our own Bookworm Room)

Ron Radosh

Michelle Horstman

Maybe Akin’s revolting stubbornness is part of a deep, Machiavellian plot *UPDATED*

Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri is refusing to step down, despite the fact that everyone in the Republican/conservative establishment, from the RNC, to Rush, to Mark Levin, to Ann Coulter, to every major blog known to conservativism, is hollering that he must leave.

Akin’s arrogance and selfishness is depressing.  Or is it?

Maybe, just maybe, this is part of some deep-dyed Machiavellian plot.  I know I’m reaching here, but bear with me.

Once Akin went stupid, the inevitable happened, which was the Dems capitalized on what he said to tie his remarks to abortion and the alleged Republican war on women.  We know that stupid faux-biology about impregnation during rape has nothing to do with the question when life begins or when it becomes entitled to legal protections.  But the media is frothing at the mouth with excitement, convinced that a gaffe by a 32-nd rate Congressman can be used to define an entire political party.

You know, therefore, that if Akin had vanished immediately, the media frothing would have continued unabated.  That is, what he said is out there, and there’s nothing conservatives can do to stop it.

However, because Akin hasn’t stepped down, the one thing Republicans can do, with ever-increasing volume, is to disavow him and demand that he step down.  Those continued cries for his withdrawal should count as headline material.  In Akin’s absence, no one would care that the Republicans were saying “Aw, come on, MSM.  We don’t agree with him….”  However, in his presence, maybe someone will notice all the Republicans screaming at Akin, “Leave now, you unmitigated idiot.”

Okay.  I know nobody plotted for Akin to appear intransigent in order to improve Republican headlines.  Akin is refusing to leave because he is, in fact, an unmitigated idiot.  His known unmitigated idiocy is why, in Missouri’s open primaries, the Dems spent $1.5 million to get him elected (perfectly proving my ongoing point about the evils of open primaries, which deny parties the opportunity and the right to make their own, best choices about candidates).

Still, even though my theory amounts to pie-in-the-sky retrofitting of painful events, it still has merit.  We should make much of the fact that, unlike Dems who rally around their crooks and pedophiles, Republicans react ferociously when someone uses the Republican platform to engage in acts or make statements that are beyond the pale of reason or morality.

UPDATE:  The plot just thickened, because the Dems couldn’t restrain themselves and are now preparing for the Abortion Convention . . . er, Democrat Party Convention.  My sense is that even those Americans who identify as pro-Choice start feeling sickened by a three day orgy celebrating fetal death.