Conservatism is More Than Growth and Opportunity
President Obama either signed conservatism's death warrant last week, with his second inaugural's theme of entitlements forever, climate wars forever, and equality forever, or he sent the liberal Army Group A heading for the Caucasus. But don't worry liberals: the Sixth Army will take care of Reagangrad.
Meanwhile conservatives are starting to organize for 2016: people like Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA). Stop fussing about inside the Beltway government, he told the Republican National Committee: focus on the big picture of growth and opportunity.
OK, governor, that's good as far as it goes. But something was missing in your speech. "Growth and opportunity" is boy stuff. Whatever happened to sharing and caring?
Look, I understand that the GOP is the Daddy party and the Democratic Party is the Mommy party. Maybe there is no way that Republicans can win against the equation that caring-and-sharing equals free stuff from the government. At least, not until the money runs out.
It's genetic. In chimp culture the males take care of the border wars, aka growth and opportunity, and the females take care of the young and the sharing of the food: sharing and caring.
Everything is different now, of course. Why, writes lefty Joan Bakewell, if Jane Austen were rewriting Pride and Prejudice (200 years old this week) she'd have Miss Bingley running a successful business and the five Bennet brothers lining up for jobs with Bingley Corporation. More likely, dear Joan, she would be writing ironical mysteries like P.D. James about establishment hypocrites and the way we live now.
The bigger problem is that most men vote on principle and most women vote for their children. So how does the GOP persuade women that voting for more free stuff is bad for their children?
The answer is that you must change the culture. Everyone thought that it was perfectly OK to enslave people to raise sugar and cotton, until they didn't. Everyone thought it was OK to bonk the servants (I'm thinking about you, Karl Marx) until they didn't.
Today everyone thinks it's OK to tax workers at 25-70 percent of their wages. Everyone thinks it's OK to terminate millions of in-utero babies each year. Everyone thinks it's OK to incarcerate children in government child custodial facilities euphemistically called "schools." Everyone will think that until we change the culture.
When you look at things that way, the future looks daunting. Conservatives don't get to order the culture around: we don't run the mainstream media; we don't run the schools; we "need not apply" to the professoriate. What chance do we have against the liberal culture machine?
But that's why God invented moral movements. The anti-slavery movement was an embarrassment, until it won. The anti-communists were an embarrassment, until they won. Many Republican politicians experience the pro-life movement as embarrassing. Not to mention the home-school movement and the marriage movement. The powerful people think of them as fringe, as not serious. "The truth is nothing serious is deemed serious in Washington," says Bobby Jindal.
The truth is that all the great turns in American history have been driven by moral movements. Think of the Great Awakening that riled people up for the American Revolution.
The great untold story of recent America is the conservative movements of rejection. In the late 1960s, after three of their finest stopped assassins' bullets, liberals started on gun control. Ten years later the NRA had transformed itself from a rifle club into a Second Amendment movement. In 1972 Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment. Then God created Phyllis Schlafly. In 1973 liberals passed Roe v. Wade; now we have a great pro-life movement. In 2010 liberals passed Obamacare; now we have the Tea Party. Today liberals are trying to end marriage as we know it with gay marriage at bat and polyamory on deck. Who knows what the pro-marriage movement will look like in 20 years?
They say that President Obama aims to destroy the Republican Party. So what does this political genius do? He picks a big fight on gun control, after riling up the Catholics last year with mandatory contraception coverage for Catholic non-profits.
The big difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats do top-down astroturf movements, fake rent-a-mobs riled up by community organizers and the professional left. But you never know what the conservative grass-roots, usually led by women, will come up with next.
It's easy for a conservative to be discouraged right now, because our effort to reform the welfare state has failed. But all that proves is that the future will be "interesting." Don't forget that while we sit around complaining about the failings of the Romneys and the Boehners and the next crop of presidential candidates, there are genuine conservative movements of rejection quietly organizing and building. And they ain't going away.
Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.