July 2, 2007
Victory in the Senate. Now Fix the Broken SocietyBy Christopher Chantrill
It was comforting last week to cold-cock the comprehensive immigration bill. It was exhilarating to watch the young guns sticking it to the pompous old bulls in the very stockyard of bovine pomposity, the United States Senate.
As Stephen Dinan wrote in the Washington Times,
As we know, the reason it was possible for "junior Republican senators" to tie "Democratic leaders into legislative knots" was because of the tidal wave of public opinion generated by talk radio and the conservative blogosphere against the bill. And it wasn't just that talk radio hosts whipped up raw emotion against the bill. Many of them had actually read it.
The principal argument advanced by the immigration bill's sponsors was that if you didn't support it, you were a bigot and a nativist. Even President Bush was guilty of this.
In the old days the "you're a bigot" gambit was an argument that could not be answered. The opponents of the bill would have slunk away, shamed and blamed, knowing that they could not win an argument against a guy who owned a printing press, a TV channel, or a bully pulpit.
But no longer.
With conservative talk radio and the blogosphere you can now fight back and win an argument with the media. Above all, you can say things that you are not allowed to say elsewhere in the public square: in the elite newspapers, in the TV news shows, in the newsmagazines, in the women's magazines, and in the universities.
In the early days of talk radio, people would call up the Rush Limbaugh Program in awe, saying: Rush, don't you know that you are not allowed to say that?
People don't do that any more.
Let us not get carried away with the euphoria of the moment. The alliance of young turk senators and new media conservatives achieved an important defensive victory. But you can only score on offense.
And conservatives are very far from going back on offense. An article in London's The Spectator by Andrew Neil makes this dismally clear.
Remember the 1970s, he writes? The big problem was the "Broken Economy," a combination of inflation and stagnation that was not supposed to happen according to the reigning Keynesian economics.
It's all just a memory now after the Reagan and Thatcher reforms of the 1980s.
Now we have a different problem. It is the "Broken Society" problem.
Neil reviews the statistics for his readers:
Children brought up by single parents, we know, are much less safe, much less educated, much more likely to be in gangs, much more likely to commit crime, and much more likely to become single parents themselves. "Family" in this subculture has shrunk to the bare mammalian minimum of women and children.
Of course, our society is not really broken. Certainly not at the top. This table from The Economist shows the percent of American children living with single parents in 2001 separated out by mother's education.
Everything is fine for the educated classes. It is lower down that things have gone horribly wrong.
So who cares as long as we can keep our own families safe? The liberals created the mess; let them clean it up.
But that won't do, and we know it. The collapse of the family and of social order in the underclass is as great a social outrage as segregated schools sixty years ago, or child labor a century ago. We conservatives are called to mend the Broken Society, and that means going on offense.
This time it will be nothing like stopping a bad bill in the Senate or fixing the Broken Economy. It will mean taking on the whole liberal culture. It will mean at a minimum creating a single-issue movement like the campaign against the slave trade.
More likely it will take a Gramscian "march through the institutions" driven by a quasi-religious determination to sweep away a liberal monoculture that dares to look on social collapse and call it a "diverse lifestyle."
It is a daunting task. And we have not yet begun.