December 10th, 2012

Clarification

It’s come to my attention that some people misunderstood what I was getting at in this post, so I want to make it crystal clear if I can—knowing, of course, that Karl Popper was correct when he said it is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood.

But I’ll try to do a little better.

No, I do not believe that the majority of Americans sat down prior to the 2012 election, studied socialism and/or the left, and made a rational, well-thought-out decision that it was the best approach possible, and that Obama was the one to implement it in the here and now.

I wrote:

…I can only conclude that, for an ever-growing segment of the population, it wasn’t that they had to ignore and/or make excuses for these things [leftist "tells" from Obama]. It’s that they approved of these things. The oft-repeated statement that this is a center-right country doesn’t seem to be the case any more, however many people may describe themselves as “conservative” on polls.

A fuller statement of what I was trying to say begins with the idea that American values and culture used to be conveyed by a host of institutions creating a certain atmosphere and ethos, especially that Big Three we’ve discussed many times before here: media, entertainment, education. I would add to that list families and churches. Included prominently in this cultural transmission were the ideas of assimilation for immigrants and of American exceptionalism, but others were personal initiative, distrust of the federal government versus state governments (“government is best that governs least“), private charity, and the importance of marriage for raising children.

Now those same Big Three convey a very different message, one that is far more amenable to the values of the left. That is no accident, of course.

We are now reaping the dubious rewards of that change, a possible tipping point where the majority of Americans do not hear alarm bells when leftist sentiments and goals are voiced. It has everything to do with cultural and media brainwashing, a sort of desensitization to the idea of those things, things which used to (and not so very long ago, either) make people very uneasy. They no longer do, at least for very many people (as we saw here).

I’m not at all sure that most people even recognize these things as being part of a leftist agenda (to them, they’re not “tells”), or are even aware of what that agenda might be. They know they sound pretty good though—and also have the side benefit of sticking it to the rich, those greedy bastards.

Leftism has triumphed in many places because its promoters count on its sounding good at a gut level to the people they used to call “the masses.” The right, on the other hand, has to work harder to counter that message and to explain why its policies would be better in the long run, even though they might sound harsh in the short run. When the right is supported by media, entertainment, schools, families, and churches, it has a more than fighting chance. When it isn’t, the road it must walk goes steeply uphill.

We’ve been sliding down that hill for a long time, and the public no longer recognizes the danger. In fact, it’s beginning to embrace it.

17 Responses to “Clarification”

  1. Tesh Says:

    No accident, either, that family and religion have been marginalized and mocked.

  2. T Says:

    “When the right is supported by media, entertainment, schools, families, and churches, it has a more than fighting chance,” and thus my call for conservative billionaires to look to media acquisition and restructuring . . . (you all know the rest).

    Neoneocon,

    If I may, I also caution us (myself included) about reading too much into the national dialogue rather than the state/local. If one looks at the national election, one can easily assume that this country is inexorably evolving to the left, but it that true or is that only a reading of the “surface of the pond”?

    Paul Rahe has an interesting article which takes a deeper look at the current trends:

    It could also be the case that — with Washington deadlocked — the real action over the next four years will be at the state level. In 2012, the Republicans lost the national election. But, at the same time, they garnered in 2010 and 2012 a strength at the state and local level that they have not seen as a party since the 1920s. The fact that the Republicans in Michigan have just passed right-to-work legislation is proof that the Tea-Party impulse is by no means dead.

    The link (H/T Instapundit):
    http://ricochet.com/main-feed/Michigan-Seems-Like-a-Dream-to-Me-Now

    In support of Rahe’s musings I offer that in 1978 Republicans had unilateral control of precisely zero states (both legislative houses plus the governership). Today they control about 30 states. Could this be a more meaningful evolution than the apparent national trend?

  3. vanderleun Says:

    I’m sorry but I don’t quite understand. Can you please restate?

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    T: I’ve thought about that before, and so far my answer is that I don’t think it’s more meaningful. In a nutshell, the reason is that I’m convinced that people can hold two competing ideas (or beliefs, or emotional reactions, or what have you) in their minds. I think that on a local level people are fairly conservative because (just as the Founders realized) they get the connection there between their pocketbooks and the government, and can see cause and effect more easily. The national level is more distant and nebulous. Therefore they can vote in ever -increasing leftism on a national level and increasing fiscal conservatism on the state level, and not see these two things as being in conflict, actually at present or potentially in the future, or even relate the two at all.

    Somewhere I read an article explaining this in depth, but I don’t remember where.

    An example of something related but a bit different would be Massachusetts’ propensity every now and then to elect a Republican (such as Mitt Romney) to try to get its fiscal house in order temporarily, while remaining incredibly and strongly liberal at the national level. No contradiction is felt. Then when things are a bit better, it’s back to liberalism even at the state level. Massachusetts is more liberal than almost all other states, but I think the pattern is typical of many states. So far, it’s only in red states that conservatism goes deeper, and I’m not sure that the more purple or blue states that are more conservative at the state level lately actually represent a long-term trend in those states.

  5. vanderleun Says:

    “Could this be a more meaningful evolution than the apparent national trend?”

    In a word, “NO.”

    But, as a dear, dear, dear friend of mine is wont to say, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

  6. T Says:

    Neoneocon,

    “Therefore they can vote in ever -increasing leftism on a national level and increasing fiscal conservatism on the state level . . . .”

    I do not disagree with that. The operative question, I think is which one will prevail in the intermediate future a “top down” evolution with a national dialogue influencing (or bullying) the states, or a “bottom up” dialogue with states eventually breaking from a national trend? I would suggest that eventually, one will have to override the other. The current marijuana legalization conundrum is a case in point.

    Vanderleun,

    It seems that you have already weighed in for the top down approach (2:43 above) but I’m not so sure. Take PA (my home state) as an example. Oftentimes considered safely blue, the Republicans control both state houses and the governorship for the time being. The state is decisively Red and has passed conservative legislation (no-retreat self defense, voter ID, etc). It’s mostly the major cities (Phila and Pgh) which swing it blue in national elections. I’m not saying you’re incorrect. I just think we are at too early a stage to yet know one way or the other.

  7. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    Steven Crowder did a cute video along these lines where he did a man on the street interview and showed.

    1) People have little or no idea what the Fiscal Cliff is
    2) They think Democrats would be better at resolving is and consider themselves democrats.
    3) They largely agree with the Republican position.

    http://youtu.be/0Hb5T-yHuEk

    Neo is right, only the public information “noise” gets through. However there is also a thing that most people these days feel like they are not in control of their life, especially in the Blue states. An experienced welder in Texas knows he can go where the work is and make good money. An insurance middle manager in Hartford does not think this way and has mentally restricted himself to living in New England/NY/DC. So you feel trapped in a way that only the government can impact.

  8. T Says:

    Neoneocon,

    One further comment about this “top down” v “bottom up” trend. The reason I used the term “intermediate future” in my comment above is that I don’t think that either direction will ever see a permanent victory. I think we’re dealing with a dynamic which, over a period of generations, is a back-and-forth struggle. Perhaps your example of MA fits such a theory in a shorter time: Republican governor when we can no longer afford liberal/progressive programs, liberal governor as soon as we can do so again. (Pure speculation on my part).

  9. T Says:

    Dirtyjobsguy,

    In all fairness to your example (with which I do not wholly disagree), keep in mind that a welder goes to the work. S/he can relocate and find employment with another firm that employs welders. An Insurance agent can work for another insurance company in another state, but s/he essentially leaves his book of business behind. To rebuild that book of business is akin to starting out all over again from scratch, a proposition that those verging on retirement are not likely to consider.

  10. LisaM Says:

    I’ve been helping my 11-year old son pick up on leftist tells in TV shows, movies, sports broadcasts and books. Although he mainly watches shows intended for kids, there is something in almost every one. Usually a conservative is caricatured and made to look ridiculous, then is mocked by the “cool” ones. Recently a cartoon character made a dismissive joke about Ronald Reagan, who died before these kids started watching TV. My son always notices what they’re up to, but I fear the future voters out there who swallow it whole.

    Our school district is mainly conservative, even the teachers. (We’re some of those bitter clingers in PA.) He came home really angry about his reading story. It was about a young girl crossing the Rio Grande on a raft, trying to find her family. The border agent helps her come ashore and find her family. My son raised his hand and said to the teacher, “So in other words, they’re all illegal aliens and they expect us to believe that the border agent helped them break the law. It would never happen.” He was very insulted to be the target of propaganda.

  11. Kyndyll Says:

    Look no further than the “Reagan would be a Democrat today” meme for proof of the unconscious leftward skew of the general populace. Even if we toss out kids who weren’t alive when Reagan was president, that still leaves people who should remember that some of the views they hold now would’ve been on the outer edge of kookdom even 10 or 15 years ago.

  12. neo-neocon Says:

    T: Here’s an interesting article that’s relevant to what you and I have been talking about here.

  13. DonS Says:

    I think the disconnect between state/local and national hinges on the fact that conservatives tend to be more involved and better informed.

    The left’s low-information voters wanted obama to win. They didn’t bother to find out what was going on at the state level.

  14. M J R Says:

    DonS, 6:01 pm — Just wanna add, there are plenty of (very) low-information voters who supported the incumbent, but (I’m sure you do know) there is a hard core of very high-information voters on the left as well. Of course, their information (MSM, HuffPo, Comedy Channel) differs greatly from our information. That’s a different problem.

    Digressed. My point — that hard core is very active on the state and local level, possibly more active (if these things can be quantified) than their rightie counterparts. They live and breathe politics. It’s their very being. They’re the ones who made the political personal, or vice versa, or whatever the h#ll they were braying in the late sixties.

    Anyway, no disagreement here, just a footnote to your post.

  15. Artfldgr Says:

    It has everything to do with cultural and media brainwashing, a sort of desensitization to the idea of those things, things which used to (and not so very long ago, either) make people very uneasy.

    wrong term… the term you want is normalization
    combined with Marcuse sexualizing stuff…

    Anyway, people “buy” by listening to the ad copy and the list of benefits and facts… the benefits can be lies and the facts can be false. and so, without real validation beyond the fact providers, they think whats best is what claims they hear that then lead to outcomes.

    we have no movies about Russia and the gulags, china and Mao, and lots of stuff that would be important for them to know and not think were made up.

    but ultimately, liars win when the truthful refuse to lie and the person that hears abdicates their responsibility to determine which.

    however, where the women went their mates almost followed… up to a point… but for the most part, whither the ladies went, the men went, as Darwin doesn’t give other options. and the state reinforcing and backing it insured the direction it would take locally.

    they picked up their cues from the movement drowning them in stuff and they then learned to take up their cues from media, so they would be on the right position, and so on. after all, from the first ones who abandoned a lot of the family traditions, to three generations on where they dont bother with family at all and there is no such history to pass down as each new generation is less participatory. and they certainly are not going to listen to their mates and cooperate, as doing that would be losing independence.

    by the way, each of these generations had less family cohesion. more abuse, more poverty, were put in front of the tv to be minded, left with strangers who didn’t care, and so on (and more as the years passed). a large portion didn’t have two parents like the past, and lost all that came with that. including things like cohesion, consistency, help, advice, direction, etc… they were like the victims of war, but without the physical war to divide them.

  16. T Says:

    For anyone still following this thread, another essay our today which discusses many of the same points:

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/12/using_states_to_supplant_cultural_leftism.html

  17. davisbr Says:

    T? – Brilliant article.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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