BY JOHN HAWKINS MARCH 3, 2019
Every experienced political observer knows that polls of adults are much more liberal than polls of likely voters. What that means is that for political purposes, a poll of adults doesn’t mean much. On the other hand, it also means that the culture at large is significantly more liberal than the group of people that turn out to vote.
This is reflected in our culture, which by every measure imaginable is considerably more liberal than it has ever been. Some people may think, “Gee, that’s just how it is. Cultures ALWAYS get more liberal over time,” but that’s not true. SOMETIMES, cultures go downhill like a truck without brakes, but other cultures go through cycles or become more culturally enriched and conservative.
The first step to getting our culture to go back in the right direction is understanding why conservatives are losing the culture wars.
1. Churches and marriage
It’s not a secret that marriage and the Christian church are in decline in America. Part of that is just a changing world. People are less likely to join any real-world group because they’re getting enough social interaction on the internet and the whole purpose of marriage has changed. Most men no longer need marriage to get sex and most women no longer need marriage for financial support. Throw in a sky-high divorce rate and draconian family courts that are heavily slanted against men and marriage today is orders of magnitude less attractive than it was a few generations ago.
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The problem with that is that the church and marriage are the backbone of our culture. The “old school” values that made America successful were Judeo-Christian values that people were immersed in from their childhood on, usually in church. A marriage between a man and a woman is, was and probably always will be the best way to raise a child and good parents will always care about shaping their child and the world around their child in a way that brings them success.
Yes, the world has changed in ways that have made marriage and the church less successful, but conservatives have been extremely lazy about trying to counteract those changes. What have we done to make marriage stronger or more appealing? What have we done to get more people back in the church? If you said, “As marriage and the church go, so goes our culture,” there would be more than a little truth to it.
No socialist, terrorist bomber, anti-white professor, anti-American professor, radical feminist, or radical Marxist should ever be allowed to teach in our universities. When we take the worst of us and put them in charge of molding the next generation of minds, it shouldn’t shock anyone that it has an incredibly negative impact on the culture. It also shouldn’t surprise us that the history, values, and philosophy that made America successful to begin with are either largely ignored or misrepresented by Leftist teachers who want to replace it with something new and inferior. Yet our school systems are overwhelmingly run by people with this kind of mindset from top to bottom. Our political representatives should play a more active role in what gets taught in high schools and threaten to cut off funds to state universities that hire people like this and turn a blind eye to radicals that prevent conservative speakers from talking. At private schools, we should be speaking with our wallets. We have got to stop paying people with our own money to help them brainwash our kids!
3. Deemphasizing character
A society that consumes "Game of Thrones," "Breaking Bad," and Eminem is going to be more degenerate than one consuming "The Lone Ranger," "Happy Days," and Bing Crosby. Of course, we don’t really call anyone “degenerate” these days, do we? Ok, maybe child molesters and people who torture animals, but nearly everything else is live and let live. We can see the negatives of the world as it used to be — where divorce or having a child out of wedlock was scandalous. Even married couples weren’t seen in the same bed on TV and even something that seems as innocuous as Elvis twisting his hips was outrageous. But what about the positives? Is the average person’s behavior better or worse than it was then? Are people more or less honest? Are you more or less worried about the quality of the culture your children are growing up in? The starting point of a good nation is a people with good character and since human beings are naturally selfish, that doesn’t just happen. Things like virtue, decency, manners, patriotism, and character have to be taught and encouraged in a society, and when they’re not, you get what you’re starting to see in this increasingly decadent country -- an anything-goes attitude that even admires degeneracy and evil if it appears to be bearing fruit for the moment.
4. Desensitization (hat tip to Jessica Fletcher)
This is a relatively new problem that has the unfortunate effect of making it more difficult to deal with the other issues. In the modern era, we are incredibly overstimulated. Every day most of us are being bombarded with more cute videos, beeps, boops, memes, gifs, offers, ads, news, and people vying for our attention than we could fully process in six months. So, getting someone’s attention tends to require either a personal connection or epic levels of cute, shocking, or extreme. It takes ever-escalating levels of brutal insults, crazy comments, or outrageous behavior to cut through the clutter. Not only does this often lead to people getting deeper and deeper into the sewer to get our attention, but a lot of the best advice is also simple, plain, and not particularly exciting. Obey your parents. Be polite. Tell the truth. Respect your elders. Church isn’t a thrill-per-second ride. Neither is staying on the straight and narrow, generally. You’ve probably heard someone say “Don’t do drugs” so many times you barely even hear the words, but if you see an article called “Not Only Is Doing Heroin Not Bad For You, It Will Be The Best Move You Ever Made,” it will catch your eye. When bad advice catches your attention and doing the right thing is so boring you can barely keep your eyes open when people mention it, which is going to have a bigger long-term impact?
5. Reluctance to boycott
Back in the Moral Majority days, conservatives LOVED to boycott. Now, for the most part, we’re too comfortable and lazy to do it, but we cloak that in high-minded rhetoric that we don’t really mean about free speech. If conservatives actually let their values guide where they spend their money the same way that liberals do, the open liberalism of the entire entertainment industry would change overnight. Are you tired of corporations disrespecting what you believe in? Then STOP GIVING THEM YOUR MONEY. It’s no surprise that America-hating socialists would undermine our society, but it’s mind-blowing that conservatives are funding the destruction of the culture that made our country successful.
6. The size of government
We often think about government from an economic perspective. The bigger government gets, the smaller the share of the pie for everyone else, but there’s also an enormous cultural impact of big government. The bigger government gets, the less responsibility people are allowed to take for their own lives. Have a kid out of wedlock? Big Daddy government is there with a check. Don’t want to work? Big Daddy government will pay your bills. Go your whole life without saving a dime for your retirement? Big Daddy government has your back! The problem with this is that Big Daddy government is turning us all into children who are surrendering large portions of our autonomy, responsibility for ourselves, and accountability for our decisions. The more we allow government to paper over the bad lifestyle choices that people make, the harder it is for people to see how damaging certain attitudes and cultural choices can be. When government shields people from the consequences of their bad decisions, it makes it difficult for people to learn from those bad decisions.
If you were so inclined, you could drive coast to coast in the United States without ever going through an area where Hillary Clinton won in 2016. That’s because Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton 2,626 to 487 in the number of counties taken in the 2016 election. So most conservatives often already live in places that seem more conservative than the dominant culture. This has a great deal to do with why we’re so complacent and unwilling to fight. If you’re living in some place in “flyover country” with minimal crime, where God, guns, and country are respected and people are generally polite, it’s easy to pretend everything is okay. The problem is that the culture extends into our schools, our homes, our entertainment, our government, and our kids’ minds. As Glenn Reynolds said, “You can't win a war you're not fighting” — and most conservatives are just betting that somehow, some way, everything will turn out fine, even if we don't seriously address the problem. That is not a safe bet when you’re dealing with the sort of people who sit around and try to think of ways to destroy the Boy Scouts in their spare time.