It’s Still The Culture, Stupid!

Bill Whittle recently gave an impassioned speech on why Republicans/conservatives lost the 2012 election. His main argument was that our side won’t/can’t win future elections if we don’t REALLY believe in the ideals we profess.

According to Whittle, the lack of conviction stems, in part, from the party/movement suffering from a form of Stockholm Syndrome caused in large part by the long-term marinating effects of a popular culture that is dominated by their ideological rivals. So long as Democrats/liberals control the country’s culture, he asserts, they’ll control the country’s politics. To their credit, Democrats/liberals take culture a hell of a lot more seriously than do most Republicans/conservatives (who tend to view pop culture as disposable entertainment). Their activists – more so than our activists – have a critical approach to culture that informs their politics. As David Ray Papke observed in his research paper, “The Impact Of Popular Culture On American Perceptions Of The Courts” (2007) Faculty Publications:

I think Americans have to approach their popular culture more critically. After a hard day at the office or around the home, many of us just want popular culture to wash over us, removing our frustrations and disappointments and allowing us to escape, but, given the pervasiveness and influence of popular culture, this attitude is dangerous. Educators should teach us how to challenge our popular culture, and we should take those lessons to heart. When we are watching a television show or a DVD in our dens and family rooms, we should intellectually wrestle with what we are watching. Popular culture can actually be more entertaining and edifying if we critically examine it.

About ConcernedVoterInMass

  • Republican Ram Rod Radio

    It takes too much effort TAO.  It can’t be done.

  • The Angelic One

    AlphonZo Rachel offers a humorous yet insightful observation (even though I disagree on his take on Herman Cain) on why the GOP will continue to fail politically until the party comes to grips with its deficiency in cultural cachet.  

  • …and Republicans were “steely eyed missile men” with the “power to vaporize any building in the world at our leisure.”  He longs for a real leader who will scare the living daylights out of any country (that would be you Iran) because we will blow up their country.

    Oh, how we long for the good old days of Ronald Reagan, who taught the terrorist of the world that Republicans cut and run when they killed 800 marines with a car bomb or showed a real backbone standing up to Iran by selling them weapons.  

    D’oh…those damn facts always getting in the way of fantasies.  Please, I beg you all, do everything Whittle suggests (no doubt he’s a big believer in Dick Cheney…because a guy like Cheney would lead the Reps to victory).  He is clearly part of the “we weren’t conservative enough”…in his speech, he acknowledge Michelle Bachman as someone he admired…can you imagine how badly the Republicans would have lost if Bachman or Santorum or Perry or Gringrich was the nominee???

    On a different note, Angel, you gave me a false expectation that the video would be about how culture impacts politics and elections.  Instead I got superficial sound bites about popular culture.

    Culture indeed has a lot to do with out political landscape (more like EVERYTHING).  But I’m referring to deep rooted cultural realities that go back centuries and are gradually chipped away and reformed over generations of change–not that sitcom I watched last night.  I’m referring to religious traditions that, at the very least, go back to the Reformation and far earlier.  Ethnic traditions carried down from the “old country” and live as part of us today.  Regional conditions that shape peoples outlook and values.  Over time (time that is tracked in generations) these cultural traditions intermingle and develop hybrids of values that define the competing coalitions of contemporary politics.  At best, pop culture is part on aspect of this web of values and frankly are more fleeting and, therefore, has less impact than the more traditional barometers mentioned above.  In that context, Whiitle’s (and your embrace of his point) is superficial.

    Understanding the impact of cultural is key to understanding voting patterns.  But pop culture is like the tip of the iceberg that is above the water, compared to the mass of the iceberg that exists under the water.  

  • The Angelic One

    Why do left-of-center folks question (like Plato) the nature of “reality” more so than right-of-center folks?

  • edfactor

    So, in this video, Whittle says that the culture is the problem, and gives the example of criticizing wealthy people who made their money. (I assume he wouldn’t give such a robust defense for JK III and those who inherit it.) I think he’s absolutely right. We must re-learn how to defend capitalism and those who succeed in it.

    He also gives a too-aggressive view of foreign policy. (But I agree that we have lost the ability to separate the good guys from bad buys. Amen to that, and to hell with the U.N.)

    But he stops there. Why?

    * We need to talk about how almost all corporations help America instead of hurt it

    * We need to talk about the benefits of immigration and the need to reform the system (Democrats appear to want this, but the unions will stop them at the end)

    * We need to move the conversation from health insurance (where we lose) to health (where we will win)

    * We need to stand up for our charities that do the work that government is so bad at.

    * We need to refocus environmentalism on serving the needs of human beings instead of returning the planet to pre-historic times.

    * We need to re-focus education on being able to make a living, not on grooming future United Nations interns.

    * We need to change our foreign policy conversation to one where we separate the good guys from bad, and how the goodness of the world’s sole superpower is why we should play the leading role in international affairs.

    * We need to step back from the media’s confused coverage of the world and re-teach the people about Western Civilization, and how starting with those values make it easy to understand what most of the conflicts in the world are about.

    * Speaking of Western Civilization, it is time to return the study of history to a contest of ideas where the West has won, not a long march to a collectivist, statist future.

    * We have to discard the evangelical-inspired culture war (which the media has pummeled us on) and adopt a new one that is actually aimed at the things most people agree is wrong with our culture (debt, instant gratification, overconsumption of everything, a declining work ethic, lack of respect for women, etc)

    * We need to remind people that we can be both religiously-tolerant and yet promote the role of all religions in the public square. We don’t have to adopt the strong secularism of President Obama and the Harvard faculty.

    * We must remind people of all the benefits of individual risk taking and freedom. We have forgotten. The nation needs to realize that a culture that worships “octomom” and the Kardashians is not going to succeed in the way that America did by honoring characters like Horatio Alger and Daniel Boone.

    The way to do all this is not primarily fighting big media. (Don’t get me wrong, my children are going to watch “Veggie Tales” and not movies and cartoons created by liberals.) We have to train Republicans to talk about these issues. It won’t be hard. We already believe this stuff. We just don’t know how to talk about it and the mainstream culture means people won’t figure it out on their own. If enough of us talk about it, we will slowly alter the culture.