Fighting the Good Conservative Fight
Ever since the election, introspective Republicans, gloating Democrats and a largely corrupt media have offered innumerable suggestions regarding how the GOP can “reconstitute,” “re-brand” or “re-invent" itself to attract more Americans. The party must become more diverse, more inclusive, more compassionate and/or more modern. Some of these arguments might have merit, but in reality there is only one thing Republicans must fully embrace: genuine conservatism, for two simple reasons. One, anything less makes them Democrat-lite, and voters will invariably prefer the real thing; and two, embracing conservatism is critical for the nation's survival. That survival depends on conservatives first acknowledging, and then waging all-out war, on three critical fronts. Until that occurs, conservatives are doomed to irrelevancy.
Anyone wondering how a president presiding over the weakest economic recovery ever recorded, a Middle East in flames, and heading an administration embroiled in at least three major scandals (Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and intel security leaks) got re-elected, can begin connecting the dots with this story revealing that Washington, D.C. had the worst high school graduation rate in the country in 2011. Only 59 percent of its students graduated in the normal four years it takes to go from freshman to senior. Harry Reid's (D-NV) home state of Nevada comes in at number two with a 62 percent graduation rate. The highest graduation rate was in Iowa, where 88 percent of the students got their sheepskins.
Does anyone still question what the future prospects are for those who haven't graduated high school? Assuming every single child in the DC schools who graduated has a bright future, where are the more than four-in-ten others likely to end up? It doesn't take a genius to figure out that under-educated individuals, who lack both job qualifications, and critical thinking skills, are virtually certain to end up on one government program or another.
And those are the kids who don't graduate. In New York City, 75 percent of those who do graduate still need remedial math and English courses before they can do college work. New York is also a state where the "passing” grade was raised to 65 percent from 55 percent. As for history, the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed that a paltry 13 percent of high school seniors were rated “proficient” in their knowledge of American history.
In other words, even those who are considered “officially” educated remain woefully weak in three of the most critical areas necessary to produce thoughtful, potentially independent Americans capable of taking care of themselves. On the other hand, public school students are getting marinated in a variety “social justice" agendas that focus on radical environmentalism, and the "evils” of the capitalist system.
Whose purpose does that serve? The political contributions of the two largest education unions, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), tell the story. From 1989-2012, the NEA donated $49,769,888 to political campaigns. 64 percent of those donations went to Democrats, 4 percent to Republicans. The AFT donated $38,218,968 to political campaigns. 81 percent went to Democrats, and 0 percent went to Republicans.
This blatantly symbiotic relationship between those entrusted with educating American schoolchildren and the Democrat party has been in place for decades. Of the three critical fronts where conservatives must push back and push back hard, this one is, by far, the most important. No amount of “messaging” about conservative values can overcome a combination of inculcated ignorance and indoctrination. When the bedrock principles of our capitalist, democratic republic can be successfully vilified as a winning electoral strategy, nothing less than an all-out and unapologetic war to reverse the trend becomes necessary. As for compromise, forget it. There is no middle ground between freedom and tyranny, or fiscal solvency and national bankruptcy.
The second front on which conservatives must expend major amounts of resources and energy is the effort to halt, and then reverse, the disintegration of the nuclear family. The New York Times illustrates the current reality: “It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.” Here's where that “new normal” is leading: “Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.”
Columnist Ann Coulter reveals exactly how elevated those risks are. “Children raised by a single mothers commit 72 percent of juvenile murders, 60 percent of rapes, have 70 percent of teenaged births, commit 70 percent of suicides and are 70 percent of high school dropouts,” she writes. “Controlling for socioeconomic status, race and place of residence, the strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is being raised by a single parent.”
Once again, do these sound like Americans who are likely to be receptive to conservative values regarding morality, ambition or self-reliance – or those who will respond to the siren song of Big Nanny statism, and its cradle-to-grave entitlements? Conservatives saw the Obama campaign's “Life of Julia" website, illuminating the federal government's all-encompassing role in the life of an American woman, as amusing or embarrassing.
Unmarried women apparently viewed it as indispensable. Nearly a quarter of the voters in the 2012 election were unmarried women, and 67 percent of them voted for Obama, according to research by the Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund. Furthermore, unmarried women comprise almost 40 percent of the black American population, nearly 30 percent of the Latinos, and almost a third of all young voters.
Susan Carroll of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University explains the obvious. "The Democrats are much more supportive of the social safety net, the programs that help people who need financial assistance, whether it be unemployment insurance, child nutrition programs, Medicaid, the whole infrastructure of the social welfare state that helps people who financially are more in need." Nothing keeps people "in need” better than the disintegration of marriage and the nuclear family. As long as this trend continues to get worse, so will conservative electoral prospects.
Which brings us to the third front, namely the mainstream media. Perhaps the only thing more daunting than the level of media bias with which conservatives have to contend, is the willingness of so many on the right to accommodate it. Nothing exemplifies this better than the RNC, the Romney campaign and Congressional Republicans sitting still when four leftist debate moderators were chosen for the presidential and vice presidential debates. Their spinelessness was “rewarded” when CNN hack Candy Crowley took the president's side against Romney on the issue of Benghazi in the second presidential debate.
Unfortunately, such spinelessness is nothing new. The Americans Thinker's J.R. Dunn explains its origins: “Image manipulation has been a useful tool for the left ever since liberalism turned transcendental as long ago as the New Deal…Since that time left-wing image manipulation has continued unabated through the Cold War (when conservatives were pilloried as McCarthyists), the Civil Rights Era (racists, naturally enough), the Reagan era, (the 'decade of greed'), and the Bush era, which introduced 'neocons,' a distortion of a very real faction which no leftist could have accurately defined if hung out a window by his heels." The conservative response? "You can look long and hard to find any sign of effort by the conservative movement to combat or correct these stereotypes, from the day of their first appearance to the moment that you logged onto this site, and you will find nothing,” he writes.
Such stereotypes can only be maintained by a combination of nurturing from the mainstream media, and a Republican willingness to let that nurturing occur unchallenged. Even now, the entire debate regarding the upcoming fiscal cliff is centered around the Republicans refusal to raise taxes on millionaires, which the media labels “obstructionist.” Yet that same label is never attached to Democrats, despite Senate Majority leader Harry Reid taking Social Security off the table, and fellow Democrats shielding other entitlement programs from cuts, and insisting the debt ceiling be raised without conditions.
Barack Obama can claim Republicans want “dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance,” and Republican strategist Karl Rove advises his party members to avoid calling Obama a socialist or left-winger, and Mitt Romney to remain “focused on the facts and adopt a respectful tone” toward the president. Yet as I noted in a previous column, the mainstream media was more than willing to keep several inconvenient “facts” under wraps until after the election was over – and Republicans, including Mitt Romney, were more than willing to go along.
It didn't work. Moreover, it has never worked, and the sooner Republicans and conservatives realize it, the better their chances of winning elections. The best course of action is simple: assume the media is hostile, and be prepared to act accordingly. It is worth remembering that for all his faults, Newt Gingrich galvanized audiences during the Republican presidential debates when he criticized the media moderators, or challenged the premises of their questions. In short, he stood in stark contrast to those Republicans whose lack of forcefulness and commitment to conservative ideals makes them timid by comparison. No election has ever been won by a timid candidate. People sense cowardice, and more often than not, such cowardice trumps good ideas.
As a result of the first two developments mentioned above, Americans have become many things, but one them stands out: a majority of people are ignorant (not stupid), and that ignorance has left them largely disengaged from traditional American culture, customs and history. As such, they gravitate to the political party willing to do their thinking for them, forming one large bloc of Democrats. The other large bloc is comprised of those willing to tell the first bloc how to live their lives. Together they formed the majority that reelected the president. Throw in a mainstream media more than willing to trumpet such an arrangement as “inclusive,” and “broad based,” and, despite all the wishing and hoping from the right, the election was never really in doubt.
Conservatives need to understand that none of this happened overnight. The public schools have been dumbing down education for decades, single motherhood has been on a steady increase since the onset of LBJ's Great Society of 1960s, and the mainstream media has tilted left ever since the New York Times' Walter Duranty was singing the praises of Joseph Stalin's “democratic” revolution back in the early 30s – and winning a Pulitzer Prize for it.
A serious and sustained pushback is long overdue. Conservatives should get on with it, and never lose sight of their ultimate advantage over Democrats: the progressive agenda is unsustainable, absent the eventual imposition of a totalitarian state. The left may yearn for equality. It is up to conservatives to pound home the historical reality that equality has only been achieved when everyone has been made equally miserable – and that even then, such equality necessitates an all-powerful elite to enforce it.