Personal Values, Political Choices
Posted by KingShamus on November 19, 2012
A personal observation taken from the post-election wreckage.
On Election Night, I sat in a coffee house reading Twitter and scanning the Fox News website for the vote tallies. I couldn’t sit in my cold dark place without power. I didn’t feel like just listening to the radio for the returns to come in. So there I was, drinking a root beer and listening to cookie-cutter smooth jazz as Mitt Romney went down to ignominious defeat.
While making jokes to brighten my mood (Q–What do you call a guy who has $5 trillion dollars in debt, 8% unemployment and the Benghazi disaster? A–Mister President.) I overheard a conversation between two college girls. It went something like this:
Lady A: The election is tonight?
Lady B: Yeah.
Lady A: I kinda like Mitt Romney.
Lady B: Yeah, but he wants to take away student loans.
Lady A: Screw that shit.
Let me add: These two young women didn’t seem like bad people. Maybe not as clued-in as one might hope, but not many 19 year-olds are terribly invested in national politics. They were just shooting the breeze at a coffee shop. It was clear that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama did not loom large in their lives. Which is pretty much how most Americans are disconnected from the daily political grind.
A few days later, I found myself at a gas station line waiting to fill some cans to feed my generator. The guy working there looked like he was in his early twenties. He must’ve seen the NRA sticker on my bumper because he asked me, “Is Obama really looking to end the right to keep and bear arms? Because I’m concerned about that.”
Homeboy seemed like a nice enough dude. While he probably wasn’t an Obama supporter, he didn’t seem like an overly political person. He had a post-election worry regarding the newly re-elected President, but other than that he appeared like the sort of man who didn’t engage himself in partisan bickering very often.
Both of these encounters struck me as amazing in their own ways.
It’s important to note something sorta obvious: we live in an enormously diverse country. The opinions of the citizenry range from wide left to far right, from the lowest grubby obsessions to the highest spiritual aspirations. Because we are surrounded by this massive continent-spanning society, it’s easy to forget just how dynamic our culture really is. Even our most wretched debased theories are vaguely interesting, if only because of the scope of the awfulness involved. On the other hand, our grandest and greatest ideas are so transcendent that they expand human freedom and perspective in previously unimaginable ways.
It’s mind-blowing to think that two very different expressions of ideology–”Mitt wants to snatch my college money”/”Barack wants to confiscate my guns”–can happily coexist. Yet they do, in a more or less peaceful way. Our elections are bitterly contested, but for the most part actual wide-spread violence hasn’t visited our political disputes for a long time.
What we learned on Elections Day–and this, sadly, is a lesson some of us will have to re-learn a few times now–is that our politics flows out from the vast American culture. Politicians are a reflection of our religious values, our social norms, our manners, our entertainments and even our petty diversions. As of November 2012, the result of our grand national partisan argument makes it unclear whether America really is the center-right country some of us have assumed it was.
Don’t get it twisted. There are at least 59 million people who are at least sorta sympathetic to a right-of-center political vision. More people are reading conservative-ish books than liberal screeds. More people call themselves conservative than identify as left-wing. These are very large numbers. They indicate that there is still a sizable electoral minority and perhaps a broad plurality that comes to the ballot box with a traditionalist background.
Having said that, it appears that there are more Americans who believe that college loans (along with a whole host of things) should be doled out by the feds. At the very least, more lefty-sympathetic citizens than right-of-center folks can be motivated to vote. Do left-of-center people believe in big government because their politicians tell them to? Or do they come to the voting booth with progressive ideas already entrenched in their worldview and are simply looking for parties and politicians who can make liberal policies a reality?
I’d also argue that those who choose liberalism and buy it’s wares are much like other consumers in our society. Social conservatives lament that American pop culture is full of filth and decadence and arrogance and stupidity. Free-market conservatives often respond that pop culture is merely producing what the market demands.
The same thing goes for American politics. Conservatives are often annoyed that so many people consume so much of the liberal kultursmog; the Washington Post, the Daily Kos, the English Department of Montclair State University and almost anything financed by Harvey Weinstein or written by Aaron Sorkin. Maybe people consume progressive media because it’s the only one readily available. Most people will choose a debased culture rather than no culture at all.
Even worse, after another mortifying Election Night loss, righties scratch their heads and wonder why they got buried.
Seeing just how much cultural ground the Right has given up, along with how many delivery mechanisms the Left just flat-out owns, it’s astounding that Republicans are able to squeak out any victories at all.
What the traditionalists, free-marketeers, social cons and defense hawks must get through their heads ASAFP is that they’re never going to score decisive electoral victories without first scoring some major cultural victories first. They’ve already ceded so much ground to the vast left-wing idiocracy. It’s well past time for conservatives to start taking American civilization back from the degenerates, racists, whiners and liars that currently run the show.
Only then will the Right start to reverse both their electoral fortunes and the decline of the greatest country in the history of humanity.
UPDATE: Linked by Starless over at The Conservative Commune. Thanks, mi amigo.
Here’s a sample:
Yes, we need to appeal to Youth Voters and include them in the political process but there comes a time when we have to help them avoid behaving irresponsibly. When we are obligated — evenmorally obligated — to save them from themselves. We can’t do that if we continue to try to pander to their every petty whim and precious ideal.
This entry was posted on November 19, 2012 at 8:00 am and is filed under Domestic Happenings, The Social Scene. Tagged: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Presidential Election. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.