It has been emotionally very easy to climb on the Let.It.Burn train after the defeat we were handed. I myself have spent some time over the last few days tooting that engine’s horn. As emotionally satisfying as that may be, it's time to have a serious talk about what we do to improve our outlook in the long term. Let me state it bluntly. We need to moderate or face extinction as a political movement! Oh gosh! I see the Horde grabbing its longbows and crossbows, heading to their favorite hill and imagining Moose steaks for dinner. I fly the white flag and ask for your indulgence to at least hear what I have to say prior to assailing me with the pitchforks and the torches. It is not some sort of Rovian compassionate conservatism that shall save us by rubber stamping a lifestyle of permanent dependence. Nor is it wholesale importing the political problems of our neighbors, whose immigrant populations, if brought in too fast and if left unassimilated, would carry those problems with them in their own ironic effort to escape those very problems. And certainly we cannot as a society exist in freedom while simultaneously rejecting moral principal, and politically applied at its core, law exists to protect the innocent from the amoral actions of others. So while always a complex topic, abandoning the pro-life agenda is to cede the very notion that man can exist in a free society. And we certainly cannot be any sort of prosperous society while endorsing punitive taxation aimed at taking as much as possible from those who have already done the most to build the economy; The madness that is the Euro-zone permanent stagnations.
So with the various hot topic hills, so many of you I imagine retreated to the instant I of spoke of moderation, declared not the problem, then, what is, you might ask? Well I have found a deeply entrenched quasi political view that almost every conservative shares. It is held, not without any rational basis, but, our loss should cause us to seriously question that basis, as we have questioned all things since our defeat. What is so perplexing is that almost all of us strongly hold this position while only rarely speaking our beliefs out loud. It has been passed down, largely from father to son, for generations, and within conservative circles it acts as our own shibboleth and as a sort of status symbol within conservative beliefs. All of this while never actually talking about it: IT IS JUST UNDERSTOOD between us all and few words need ever be said. This is the core belief which I must assail. A belief we must radically examine if we want to survive very far into this century.
I was a small boy when it was put to me; I think as we mostly are when it is first explained. I was a budding musician of some talent as a youth. My step father explained as I was agonizing over some part for some minor school performance, that I was fretting far too much over something so very inconsequential and that my real worries should lie elsewhere, perhaps on mastering my math tables. He had no malice toward my passions, only as most parents, a deep concern for my future. And he knew like all parents know that that future was best served by having "real" skills that lead to a "real" job. I listened as a young man to the trials of his life, having three children of his own at one time, and trying to support them throughout his younger years. He talked often about what it took to just carve out a small piece of the American dream, and the virtue of stable income streams, that came to fruition above all from the tangible things that one produced. He was fond of saying, if you want to have a job, you need to make your employer more money than what it costs to pay you.
All these things are so very very true. That I think is what caused us, as conservatives, to have internalized them to the point that they are a central part of our culture: "Get a real job" Wasn't I the aloof one in College, laughing quietly at my Journalism major counterparts and their sad choice of major. Now I get the sickening feeling they are laughing at me in a similar manner. Now I am not highlighting my personal past as some sort of regret fest, I Am STILL the captain of my ship, and can turn it whenever I have the whim, and pursue lost passions. No I talk about this because I think we need to talk about this part of our culture. This is what we need to moderate.
Ladies and Gentlemen we have ceded the ground of artistic expression, and the market of ideas, because we held them in low esteem. We saw them as high risk, low reward fields that the responsible man or woman would not pursue as a serious career choice. We all yearn to hear a good story but hold in low regard someone who pursues telling stories for a living. We yearn for good reliable news coverage, and would pay handsomely for it, yet tell our good sons and daughters that there is very little future in it. We all own an MP3 player so that we can at a whim buy new music...etc etc etc. Even our champions who have made it into the limelight can usually tell a story of how they were discouraged by their family. Rush Limbaugh for instance; Have you ever hear him discuss what his father thought about his career in radio? We pushed the good son and daughter away from these fields, telling them they weren't a good plan for the future, and the good son and daughter listened to us. Should we be surprised then to find the market of ideas dominated by those that reject our values? When we made the first requisite of entry rejecting our values, at least in part?
Today we look around surprised to see that Clint Eastwood has gotten very old, and John Wayne has been dead for decades. All in our current crop of actors can barely portray a "man" character very convincingly, and only rarely do we see a writer actually even try to write one. Instead we find ourselves, successful business owners, industrialists, rugged rural peoples, those of faith, military men and women, cast all too often as villains in the stories of our day. Should we be surprised?
We desperately need to moderate our position on the arts. And we have to do so at a very personal level, rejecting many ideas about what constitutes a responsible man and woman that we have held dear. Real jobs need to be inclusive of not just producing the tangible real world things that fulfill our basic needs and wants, but also, just as real, needs to be the job of producing the things that move the heart and soul. We cannot continue to look down our nose on the profession of artistic expression and expect to endure. This must change today. Look at your sons and daughters, and the long long fight that we could not win that they will inherit. Know that if they should prevail in the struggle for freedom, ideas have to change. Big ideas about freedom need to be written, painted, and composed once more, and so our view of their authors and our esteem of their profession must also change.