Conservatives will never win the culture war. I’m sorry to break this to you. Our ostensible political party sometimes wins elections, but these victories are both temporary and ephemeral, at best. What does winning the culture war even mean? Have you considered what winning would look like? What are the terms of victory?
The progressive, professional left knows exactly what victory means, how to fight, and how to consolidate its gains, which is why it’s winning. They’ve pinpointed the enemy: everyone else. Everyone. Especially you. And there is nothing they won’t do to achieve victory on any field, no matter how minor. They’ve been fighting this war for decades. They’ve acquired the press, the academic sphere, and entertainment media. The one thing that they think about from when they get up in the morning to when they crawl into bed at night is how to destroy you. They don’t quibble with each other on methods or ethics. They’re not concerned with intellectual consistency. They’re not trying to change your mind or get you to listen to the better angels of your nature. They want you gone.
You know all this, right?
In addition to not knowing what it means to win, conservatives don’t have the left’s weapons of the news media, academia and entertainment. And, worse yet, we don’t have this all-consuming desire to destroy the left. We just want to be left alone. You can’t win a war that way, because desiring to be left alone isn’t something you can plant a flag on. Sorry, Libertarians. I know Ronald Reagan won on that platform (in part), but that was a political victory, not a cultural one. “You leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone” never works. Remember your C.S. Lewis:
It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
The professional left doesn’t have a conscience, but you get the drift.
Say I’ve got it all wrong. Tell me, “We can win. We need better messaging.” Okay, get started on the messaging. In the meantime, who do we have on our side? Many of the same moral busybodies Lewis described, wagging their fingers at both sides. The left doesn’t eat its own, but the right does with an insatiable appetite.
Conservative media figure Ben Shapiro’s a crackerjack finger-wagger, particularly in the Age of Trump. He writes:
It seems like a relatively uncontroversial proposition that civilized human beings ought not commit battery on one another for reasons of politics. Yet that seemingly basic notion – one that we teach small children before they hit kindergarten age – has now been immediately discarded by a significant number of supposed conservatives, people who proclaim their values from the rooftops but then abandon them when it comes time to speak up against their heretofore political allies.
In a similar article, Kimberly Ross at RedState wagged her finger at Rush Limbaugh for not sufficiently castigating Trump or reporter-abuser Greg Gianforte:
During the 2016 campaign season, however, Rush grew to support, defend, and apologize for Trump simply because of the (R) next to his name. Standards? They didn’t matter. Winning was the only goal. Quickly, my disgust at his unprincipled tribalism grew.
“Supposed conservatives” from Shapiro and “unprincipled tribalism” from Ross. It’s right and good and necessary to wag that finger. Mmhm.
The removal of integrity from one’s arsenal is liberating: progressives never feel the need to reprimand their fellow leftists for moral turpitude. They’re fighting the war as a cohesive unit, not sniping at their own troops from behind. It’s why their messaging is so consistent. If they’re not all on the same page, the dissenters keep it to themselves.
I don’t like everything other conservatives do either, but I used to let things slide. Forbearance used to be a virtue. A good soldier knows when to shut up and put sights on an enemy coming to kill him.
No amount of marketing’s going to fix the dissent in our own ranks. It won’t kill us, but we will never win the war. And while we’re bitching and moaning about being left out in the rain, the progressive left marches on, inexorably.
So you can’t fight for the right to be left alone. You have to adopt the same tactics that the professional left has. If you’re going to fight, fight to destroy them before they destroy you. Get on the same war footing. Make the progressives afraid to open their yaps and spew whatever moronic bilge has burbled to the forefront of their minds. Don’t let up.
Anything less is capitulation. Until we fight like progressives, conservatives will never win the culture war.