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Democrats Thinking Inside the Bubble Taking Responsibility

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Conservatism is More Than Growth and Opportunity

by Christopher Chantrill
January 29, 2013 at 7:24 pm

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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 blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


Never Trust Experts

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, “Letter to Lord Lytton”


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


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