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The culture war is over, and conservatives lost (Face it, Americans no longer agree with us)
The Week ^ | 01/03/2013 | Matt K. Lewis

Posted on 01/03/2013 12:09:45 PM PST by SeekAndFind

Late last year, I criticized the notion that Barack Obama won re-election by buying off voters with "gifts." 

In case you've forgotten, many conservatives had sought to explain away Mitt Romney's loss by reasoning that we had finally reached a tipping point where Americans were voting for candidates who supported the welfare state, based solely on their own pecuniary interests. And I argued that voters do want to be given something by Republican politicians: Hope, optimism, and vision.

But while I dismissed that premise, there may be an even larger fundamental problem that should alarm conservatives even more: Too many Americans simply no longer agree with them on the merits.

We should have seen it coming. Back in 1999 — on the cusp of George W. Bush's presidency, and as Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress — conservative leader Paul Weyrich issued a controversial open letter declaring that conservatives "probably have lost the culture war." 

As Weyrich wrote:

In looking at the long history of conservative politics, from the defeat of Robert Taft in 1952, to the nomination of Barry Goldwater, to the takeover of the Republican Party in 1994, I think it is fair to say that conservatives have learned to succeed in politics. That is, we got our people elected. 

But that did not result in the adoption of our agenda. The reason, I think, is that politics itself has failed. And politics has failed because of the collapse of the culture. The culture we are living in becomes an ever-wider sewer. In truth, I think we are caught up in a cultural collapse of historic proportions, a collapse so great that it simply overwhelms politics.

In recent months, it has been especially depressing to be a conservative. In the past, one could more easily endure the ranting of liberal commentators by taking solace that — outside of New York City and Washington, D.C. — most of the country was center-right. Thus, whenever an elite liberal commentator said something fringy, one could always console himself by saying (or at least thinking): "I hope you push that idea, because you'll keep losing elections in real America."

Today, conservatives have made a shocking discovery: They are the ones in danger of appearing out of touch with middle America.

Weyrich, it turns out, might have been a Cassandra. At the time, of course, his letter was criticized by many of his conservative friends, who had, after all, toiled in the trenches for years to elect Ronald Reagan. They were still optimistic that we were on the verge of some sort of permanent governing majority that would allow a new leader to finish what Reagan started. But today, it looks as though Weyrich was quite prescient.

To be sure, his idea wasn't entirely original. Years earlier, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed, "The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society." Years later, Andrew Breitbart would popularize this notion, and introduce it to a new generation of conservatives. But Weyrich was making an observation at a time when it would have been easy to dismiss such reflection as premature — or even pessimistic. (Indeed, many of his contemporaries did exactly that.) 

Predictably, conservatives tended to ignore this inconvenient truth about the culture, persuading themselves that winning elections — and ostensibly passing conservative laws (though they did that less frequently) — were what mattered. (Or maybe it was that they convinced themselves that because they could win elections — because the American public supported their politics — it implied a "silent majority" of Americans were still traditional, salt-of-the-earth types.) 

In the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, Republicans did quite well electorally. Simultaneously, however, our society became coarser, more permissive, less traditional, and more socially liberal. And while politicians won elections, our young people turned to Hollywood for guidance. For every Republican elected, there were 10 films or songs (many of them quite good, actually) selling sex, drugs, and violence. Of course, this all comes down to that clichéd line about the breakdown of the family unit. It's clichéd because it's true.   

Now: In the wake of the House GOP's capitulation on the Senate-passed fiscal cliff bill (which does nothing to rein in entitlement spending), some prominent conservatives are beginning to notice that today's electoral and public policy defeats are a natural byproduct of having lost the culture war.

For example, over at Red State, conservative commentator and blogger Erick Erickson argues, "Republicans should turn their attention toward — family." Erickson quotes Rick Santorum, who, during a 2012 Republican primary debate said:

The bottom line is we have a problem in this country, and the family is fracturing.

Over 40 percent of children born in America are born out of wedlock. How can a country survive if children are being raised in homes where it's so much harder to succeed economically? It's five times the rate of poverty in single-parent households than it is in two-parent homes. We can have limited government, lower tax — we hear this all the time, cut spending, limit the government, everything will be fine. No, everything's not going to be fine. 

There are bigger problems at stake in America. And someone has got to go out there — I will — and talk about the things. 

Democracy, of course, requires individuals who are moral and responsible. Strong families are the cure for much of what ails us. You pick the problem, and stronger families would probably render the solution moot. Consider a recent debate: We can put warning labels on violent games and movies, but that won't replace mom and dad being involved in their children's lives and being aware of what they are watching.

Conservatives have largely lost the culture, and it can't be won back by passing some landmark piece of legislation. Instead, it's going to be a long, hard slog. The good news is that, though conservatives typically hate the term "reactionary," most conservative victory is first predicated on liberal overreach.  

It may be that if things get bad enough, America will finally start looking inward. 

Matt K. Lewis writes for The Daily Caller and co-hosts The DMZ on

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: americans4prosperity; conservatism; culture; culturewars; homosexualagenda; kochbrothers
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To: SoFloFreeper
Yes, everything that you says is true and imperative.


21 posted on 01/03/2013 12:34:34 PM PST by LibLieSlayer (FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS!)
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To: cripplecreek
Sounds like a good place to start. You could filter again after the next round of gun control votes.

Of course, we might be too busy reloading soon after that...

22 posted on 01/03/2013 12:35:00 PM PST by Dead Corpse (Sine ullo desiderio vive et ama.... Carpe diem.)
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To: SoFloFreeper

Love is always the answer

23 posted on 01/03/2013 12:35:47 PM PST by stanne
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To: LibLieSlayer

Too many people are buying the media line of BS about Obama’s mandate.

The reality is that the GOP holds all 3 branches of government in 24 states and they are growing increasingly defiant of federal government. (democrats hold 13 states) We just passed right to work in Michigan for Pete’s sake and last week the governor placed further restrictions on abortion clinics.

24 posted on 01/03/2013 12:36:34 PM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: SeekAndFind

No, the culture COLD war is over.

25 posted on 01/03/2013 12:36:57 PM PST by Boiling point (Socialism; Ideas so good they have to be mandatory.)
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To: LibLieSlayer

I’m not sure what your point is. The author is not suggesting we surrender, just pointing out that we can no longer get by defending our positions.

We have to counterattack and take back ground already lost to the enemy.

Recognizing that we are in the process of losing is the first step in analyzing what is necessary to turn things around.

In a somewhat similar situation during WWII, Vinegar Joe Stilwell had to deal with his PR-types who tried to portray the retreat from Burma as something less than a defeat.

“I claim we got a hell of a beating,” Joe told the press. “We got run out of Burma and it is humiliating as hell. I think we ought to find out what caused it, go back and retake it.”

26 posted on 01/03/2013 12:37:26 PM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: SeekAndFind

The culture wars is a low level skirmish and one they won.

They are wise to ensure conservatives stay in the low level skirmish with fantasies of winning.

27 posted on 01/03/2013 12:37:51 PM PST by NoLibZone (If the left gave the money they make on violence, we could feed all the hungry and reduce the defict)
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To: SeekAndFind
Look, let's face it: Only hardship will cause a turn to God.

I have seen it in my personal life, and I see it nationally.

If Obama crashes America, as it looks like he has been instructed to do, the Unintended Consequence will be a return to God and morality.

We simply got too fat to succeed.

28 posted on 01/03/2013 12:38:08 PM PST by Lazamataz (LAZ'S LAW: As an argument with liberals goes on, the probability of being called racist approaches 1)
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To: stanne

RE: After 40 Years, Abortion Activists Losing

Well, here’s what I want to know... are the number of abortions in this country DECREASING? INCREASING? Or SAME AS BEFORE?

If it is either increasing or same as before, how are abortion activists losing?

29 posted on 01/03/2013 12:39:37 PM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Wrong! Baloney.

POLL AFTER POLL AFTER POLL has demonstrated that ON INDIVIDIDUAL ISSUES, MOST Americans go with conservatives - if ANYTHING, the percentages reflected on those issues indicate an INCREASE on many of them.

It would seem to me that MOST Americans have an issue with the REPUBLICAN Party as an alternative to the Democrats - or at least certain REPRESENTATIVES of the Republican Party.

AND, considering the IDIOTIC show in the Congress by them this week AND the idiotic performance of the majority of GOP representatives who re-elected the BONER who was RESPONSIBLE for MOST of the Republican missteps in Congress recently, CAN YOU REALLY BLAME THEM???

Democrats = EVIL

Republicans = VERY STUPID

Perhaps most people would rather go with evil than with the collection of morons represented by many of the Republican Establishment Drones.

30 posted on 01/03/2013 12:39:37 PM PST by ZULU (See video:
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To: demshateGod

I am 49, female, and have been married to the same MAN, for 25 years. We also do not cheat or carry on. Among the younger people I work with, my lifestyle is seen as quaint relic of the past. Most of them are either terminally single and sleep with whom ever comes along, divorced once or twice, divorced with kids, or with kids and never married, OR, in a homosexual relationship with or without kids, OR, in a faux marriage in which they live separate lives and date other people on the side, with full knowledge of each other’s adulterous behavior.

There ARE no traditionally married couples with over 1 or 2 kids. We are an anomaly anymore. I feel sorry for these people — but they have whatever it is they fought for. Trouble is, it really doesn’t look all that appealing, and many of them have confided in ME that they secretly envy my life.

And I tell them ...It didn’t come easy. Hubby and I fought, but we mended our differences and stayed together. We aren’t rich, we don’t party, our life is pretty routine ...but it’s a nice, warm, loving and secure relationship. Our kids do well. We have savings and a home. I don’t know what else to tell them ....none of them ever seem to want to get off the pot to create a decent life for themselves. They want to wallow in the smut because they like it ... they think it’s cool. They like partying and they like staying out all night and bragging about their exploits the next day.

I guess until it shows its really ugly end, we are going to go through a dark time in America - a morally dark time. I feel all I can do is continue to live the life I feel is best and pray for their conversion. I can’t control them, and neither does God try to either, it seems.

31 posted on 01/03/2013 12:39:59 PM PST by LibsRJerks
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To: SeekAndFind

I think it depends on what your definition of “lost” is.

32 posted on 01/03/2013 12:41:15 PM PST by GSWarrior (Click HERE to read entire tagline.)
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To: SeekAndFind

We either have to persuade people that we are right or prove Obama wrong. All economic common sense and history are on our side but Repubs are not making the case in a convincing way. Everything Obama says on the economy is nonsense and Repubs need to point that out loudly, publicly and repeatedly.

33 posted on 01/03/2013 12:43:35 PM PST by Brooklyn Attitude (Obama being re-elected is the political equivalent of OJ being found not guilty.)
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To: Shadow44
Unfortunately, this is a never-ending long term project that won’t see immediate results.

You can't even start until you clear the Marxists out of education.

34 posted on 01/03/2013 12:43:42 PM PST by MileHi ( "It's coming down to patriots vs the politicians." - ovrtaxt)
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Americans are a very funny lot.

They tell us that they want smaller government and claim that the Federal government is too big. Yet, when the time comes to CUT the federal budget, many start to scream and complain that the programs AFFECTING THEM will be cut. Result: Nothing gets cut.

They tell us that they find Congress UNFAVORABLE. Yet, when it comes to voting, they often re-elect their own congressmen anyway.

Conservatives supposedly outnumber liberals in this country by a huge double digit number. Yet, come election time, a huge number of conservatives stay home.

35 posted on 01/03/2013 12:44:01 PM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: cripplecreek

Praise GOD crip... and of course you are right!


36 posted on 01/03/2013 12:44:50 PM PST by LibLieSlayer (FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS!)
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To: SeekAndFind

See tagline.

37 posted on 01/03/2013 12:46:39 PM PST by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: Sherman Logan

I am sorry that you didn’t get my point but your last two sentences pretty much make me think that you did.


38 posted on 01/03/2013 12:46:40 PM PST by LibLieSlayer (FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS!)
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To: SeekAndFind

They keep hoping it is true

39 posted on 01/03/2013 12:47:59 PM PST by AppyPappy (You never see a massacre at a gun show.)
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To: LibLieSlayer

No need for caps bro.

$10 Trillion buys a whole lot of approval and ‘winning’.

It cannot be paid off. We all know how it ends -in catastrophe.

It’s hardly the time to stray or alight with fools.

40 posted on 01/03/2013 12:48:17 PM PST by Justa
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