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.
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.