So tonight – phone – had an interesting conversation with Bill Reader. He’s not a troll, and since we are friends he wouldn’t come to my blog to call me names, but he was making many of the objections made here over the weekend to the idea of working to take over the GOP.
We covered the reasons – mine and his – mine being of course the ones I laid out here. His being – his being younger than I – that he despairs of incremental gains, of slow victories.
Part of me understands. Honest. It’s a tough thing for people in their late thirties and early forties, who don’t really remember Reagan, and who just remember a slow slide to the left. (Ignoring much of public opinion has moved the other way.)
I had to tell him of the seventies, when it was assumed that Communism was right and the ultimate destiny of human governance and, in fact, the moral high ground. It was assumed by my teachers, in Europe, and it was assumed by the intelligentsia and the upper class here as far as the 1980s when I came here to live.
I mean, the Russians were brutal and uncouth and imposing by force a regime that would be great if we just slid into it.
Most of Europe bought it too, and have been doing just that.
This meant most conservatives older than I are … squishy. Not all, of course. Not nearly all. But most “conservatives” older than I assume things like the ACA are necessary and if not a good, at least inevitable for ‘civilized governance.’ Europe, needless to say assumes so – and are paying the price of it in stagnation, in lost opportunity, in slow decay (which they seem to wallow in. Go figure.)
And then there was Reagan. And those of us not old enough to remember Goldwater’s candidacy nonetheless got an idea conservatism/liberty could and would work.
The establishment got power again, afterwards, of course, the people who believed socialism was covalent with civilization.
And because the conservative/libertarian base was busy working at their jobs, raising their families and doing the other stuff we do, we slid back into the GOP thinking their goal was “sure, same result but slower.”
The momentum was already there, baked in the cake. And the left kept pushing. Harder, because they wanted everyone to forget that for one moment the USA had deviated from the European pattern of slow decay. (Does anyone remember the early nineties, everyone trying to portray the eighties as a horrible decade of unemployment and economic hardship?)
It worked to an extent because the left had an immovable wall of media: news, entertainment, teaching. All of it worked in tandem to proclaim the big lies: that Republicans were for big business and the rich; that the democrats were for the little people. If you noticed that the rich were more and more democrat and used politics to enrich themselves, you wondered if you were going nuts. There was no corroboration out there, no idea that your opinion wasn’t completely alone. No idea you weren’t insane.
This is something the left excels at. Or did. The centralized communications of the twentieth century were ideal, once they took them over, to maintain the illusion everyone agree with them and painting their opponents as crazy.
Now there are cracks. I’m not sure what the percentages are, but it seems most people at least know about Drudge. There are indie books and you might find suddenly the villain isn’t always a conservative and Libertarian. There are blogs where the like minded meet and draw strength and knowledge to face the next battle.
And conservatives and libertarians of my generation – most of us – not only do not view communists as having the moral high ground and socialism as a rational path but – having seen the Soviet Union fall and been exposed to the shenanigans of our own left through the alternate media – view it as an evil to be fought at our costs.
Bill said “but this feels so paltry. It is just words.”
He is right. It is just words.
But we’re humans and we need narratives to guide our lives. The narrative used to be of a state run by “the best minds” which would take over more and more of the functions of life until it provided whatever you needed, exactly right, because “best minds”. If you don’t believe me, read a lot of the classic science fiction. Even those who disapproved of the idea viewed it as inevitable.
Now we’ve seen what an out of control state can do, and a lot of us are proclaiming the message of a state that’s kept small, starved, humble, a state that can neither give you everything you want nor take away everything you have.
And there are a lot of us, all over. And we know we’re not crazy.
Guys, if this were the nineties, people WOULD be convinced Obamacare is the best thing ever. I can just imagine story after story after story, its becoming part of major movies’ plots, etc, etc, etc. In other countries “universal care” was given and almost immediately approved of. Here, its approval ratings keep dropping. People can get the real news, not just pravda, see.
The left has lost that narrative setting ability. It wasn’t an inconsiderable weapon. Arguably it was their largest. Or at least they’ve lost most of its potency. And we’ve gained a good deal of it. And it will serve us well.
Because if we can change the narrative in people’s heads, not only can we restore the republic incrementally, but – heaven forbid – should we need to rebel earlier (I don’t think it will happen. In fact, I can’t see anything short of our own government nuking one of our cities that won’t be hushed, tamped down, and the few who rose portrayed as traitors. The media is still strong enough to run a distraction game while the few who moved get hanged to dry. I could, of course, be wrong. If Net Neutrality hampers the net much, the millennials will rise for sure. They don’t know life without the net.)
The founding fathers spent a generation in broadsheet and public meet hashing out their ideas and more importantly propagating them. There was a small number who fought, but when they won and it came to creating a system, people were all (almost) on the same page.
A rebellion or debacle that happens before the culture is changed means we already lost.
We COULD end up with something out of Starship Troopers… maybe… only I don’t see even that. Historically, in that situation people go for the man on the white horse who promises to save and fix all, even if he is just a little man from Corsica.
The good (urgh) news is that I don’t think there will be a flare up, certainly not a widespread one. And I don’t think there will be a collapse. Yes, yes, I get those emails too “Banks about to collapse” and I have since 1990. There is a lot of collapsing a country as rich as ours can do. Venezuela and Cuba are still very theoretically solvent.
This is what I call the “Slide down easy” route. If we don’t succeed in getting some people who will fight for our rights in the capital or if the other side wins the day in 16, we will see the slide down easy. Things failing, things breaking, a general degradation of our style of life. Heck, we’ve seen that the last six years, though nowhere near “bad” yet. Just minor inconveniences, curbed pleasures (Staycations, not driving an hour to something because of gas, eating a lot of eggs because cheaper than meat, etc.) If it continues it has a long way to go to get to where we only have utilities some hours a day.
That’s a long long way down (longer some places than others.) We’ll have time to change hearts and minds and hopefully arrest the decline before it gets to that point.
People who want to take different routes? Go right ahead. Not the shooting route, because frankly if you’re screaming you’re ready to start shooting on a blog you’re either a government stooge or just incredibly stupid and surrounded by them. I think the third party route is insane, but then I don’t even think you’ll pull many votes. And there’s always Libertarians pulling votes on the right side (mostly.) (I’ll note Ron Paul was smart enough to run in the Republican party and as a Republican. He understood the dangers of third parties, and clearly he too thought it was worth it to run a quixotic campaign just to pull the GOP away from socialism.)
There are times when I myself will switch my ideas of how to do this so fast your head will spin: if mass arrests of our people occur; if the country gets attacked and our president tells us we deserved it, if… a dozen other events occur.
The thing about the right – even if people tried to tell me otherwise this weekend – is that we’re not monolithic. We are the proverbial individualists who failed to organize.
The only thing that unites us in fact is our love of liberty and individual freedom.
And if there are some among us who don’t love those, they’ll get overwhelmed.
The left has the advantage of being able to march in lockstep. It has helped them many times. On the other hand, the disorganization typical on the right is a strength too. They demonized the tea party, but they couldn’t personalize the demonization because there were no leaders. Part of their obsession with the Kochs is that they had to find someone to blame.
When a crowd comes at you each in an individual style, it’s much harder to evolve a strategy than when everyone comes at you marching in uniform ranks.
I? I’m going to continue working the culture vineyards. It’s self-serving in a way, but it’s what I can do best. Sort of utilizing my meager talents in the area I have them.
I know others of you who are more competent (and less health impaired) are doing the local level taking over the GOP thing. Others yet are fighting culture fights in games and literature (I do that a little too) and schooling and everywhere the long march has entrenched leftists.
And others of you are setting up groups, working in organizations, teaching the young.
Yes, as Bill told me, it all seems incremental and slow and just “ideas.” But the Jewish people had an heritage mostly of ideas and stories, and they have outlasted the peoples who built in marble and granite. Ideas matter.
And though – as with my never-ending clean up and fix at the other house – it will seem like it’s never ending, and a thankless task, I know from history and from other similar projects, one day we’ll wake up to find ourselves in a new world we build.
… with all the work to do to keep it so.
Because that’s how the world works.
I know it’s difficult and tiring and thankless, but it’s our job, and we can do it. We have to do it. It’s the only thing standing between us and darkness. Or at least the triumph of socialism and the eternal slide down.
In the end we win, they lose – we just have to make it so.