Hunter Hearns argues trenchantly that winning some elections is not enough, if the Left continues to consolidate control of the Culture.
Republicans have controlled the presidency for 32 out of the last 52 years, a time during which they have appointed 15 of 19 Supreme Court justices. In the last 25 years, they have controlled the Senate for about 15 of them, and the House for 20. For a party to be so remarkably successful politically while losing on practically every issue requires a deep rethinking of where things have gone wrong.
Conservatives for two generations now have worried that immigration was turning the country more liberal. Yet even while it has continued, the massive leftward shift of college educated white women has emerged as much more electorally significant in the short term. In 2016, President Trump won the election and had both houses of Congress, yet his only legislative accomplishment of note before losing the House was tax cuts.
Many Trump supporters were motivated by his taking on political correctness and the collection of myths about identity-related issues that distorts practically every political debate. Yet social media censoriousness continues unabated, so much so that the sense of urgency to actually deal with the issue has faded away. And now banks have gotten into the act too, recently cutting ties with companies that support ICE in its mission to detain illegal migrants, and even with individuals who violate PC orthodoxy. This level of oppression would have been unthinkable in the McCarthy era, and yet the best we can hope for in any particular case of censorship from our â€œFlight 93 Presidentâ€ is an ineffective tweet.
Trump may squeak by another electoral college victory in 2020. Yet even if he does, there is little actual hope that he will fundamentally change the trajectory of the country. Conservatives thought that they might take their nation back in 2016; that hope is now gone. Electing more Republicans means at best getting a few-years-long reprieve until the next time Democrats control Washington. At which point we will see universal healthcare, the release of violent criminals, open borders, the stamping out of religious liberty, and a government that sees its citizens less as the American founders did, and more as communist leaders who divided the population into classes of oppressors and oppressed for purposes of implementing policy.
In other words, in the Flight 93 election, the passengers seized control of the plane and it crashed anyway. Why are things so hopeless? If the mistakes of the past are not to be repeated, we need a clear-eyed understanding of the American conservative movement of the last several decades.
I am a social scientist by training and have never been involved in electoral politics. Yet when I look at the American conservative movement, what I am struck most by is what an oddity it is from a historical perspective. Practically every significant movementâ€”whether ancient or modern, religious or secular, totalitarian or liberalâ€”knew that to succeed in the long run it needed to gain control of the institutions that manufacture public opinion. Yet from this perspective the American right has not simply failed in its efforts to build a more conservative society; it has not even tried.
There is nothing mysterious about its lack of long-term success. It was predetermined given the ideological commitments and priorities of movement leaders. One does not need to read ancient or modern philosophy or social science to understand what practically all political theorists throughout history have agreed on: most people do not have the time, motivation or inclination to think deeply about political and social issues. They will take the opinions that have been prepared for them by higher status individuals and institutions. If these opinion shapers are liberal, the public will be liberal, and this includes intelligent people naturally inclined to live in accordance with moral ideals.
Gramsci famously promised that society would change through his â€œlong march through the institutions.â€
He’s not wrong.