Combatting Conservative Demoralization

American conservatives are in a funk; can we get out of it?

For conservative Americans, this is the winter of our discontent. Scores of articles, books and videos attest to a serious demoralization in the ranks of conservatives in the United States. The causes are easily identified. Arguably, the two main reasons are: the re-election of Barack Obama and the seemingly irreversible implementation of Obamacare following on Chief Justice John Roberts’ surprise defection. However, both of these events herald much more fundamental developments in the political/cultural/social fabric of the nation, which are the true reasons for the depressed state of American conservatives. Therefore, let us list some of the most transparent signs of radical change in American society which, having been recognized and acknowledged by conservatives, engender feelings of despair and lack of hope for the future of the Republic.

  • The explosive and seemingly inexorable growth of the Federal Government, accompanied by unsustainable deficits and debt, is robbing the American people of their liberty, independence and prosperity.
  • The throttling of the country’s economic engine by progressive policies and programs, which have converted economic growth into economic stagnation, signals the end of the American economic miracle and a steady decline into Euro levels of unemployment, lack of opportunity and generational decay.
  • The hollowing out of the military has resulted in an America less able to defend its and its allies’ interests and increasingly
  • Aggressive projection of power by its adversaries (China, Russia, Iran and other Islamic radicals, North Korea).
  • While substantial immigration has traditionally replenished the nation’s energy and enterprise, the country is increasingly flooded with people whose origins – unlike in the past – lie in countries that know little of Western Civilization, British Rule of Law, Dutch free enterprise and the freedoms enshrined in our Bill of Rights. In the resulting environment, it is difficult to sustain adherence to the founding principles of our nation.    
  • In particular, the rapidly growing minority communities in the US align themselves overwhelmingly with statist, collectivist and redistributionist policies that are alien to traditional American values. These communities vote overwhelmingly left rather than right – a trend that appears likely to strengthen as the size of these communities grows.       
  • Finally, the takers now outnumber the makers, with greater imbalances on the horizon. Nearly half of Americans pay no income tax and (a somewhat different) half receive some sort of welfare payment from the federal government. Entrepreneurs are reviled while the “needy” are deemed the soul of the nation.

As a consequence, the US today is a poorer, weaker and less self-confident nation than it has been at any point during the lifetime of any living American. Conservatives observe these signs and attribute the underlying cause to the progressive movement that first gained traction in the US more than a century ago (during the administration of Teddy Roosevelt) and which, in fits and spurts over the 20th century, has nearly completely captured the culture of our nation. Conservatives see the results described in the bullets above as direct consequences and believe that – unless reversed – these developments spell doom for our nation. Of course progressives see it differently. Namely, they consider their century-long success as the salvation of our nation. And alas – the ultimate cause of conservative demoralization – there seem to be more holding the latter opinion than the former, with the disparity growing.

It is enough to bring about the despair that is so manifest in conservative circles. So what is a depressed conservative to do? Give up? Move somewhere else? Or continue to do battle in the hope that the tide can be turned and the nation restored to its traditional moorings? I believe the proper response can be arrived at by answering the following questions:

Is the trajectory that the country has been on for decades truly irreversible? If not, how can it be reversed? If so, then is there any reasonable course of action other than abject surrender?

If one believes that the progressive dominance is not permanent, then one must shake off the demoralization and resume the struggle to restore America. I have written elsewhere about strategies to follow. In short, conservatives should recognize that the progressive “victory” in America unfolded according to the Gramsci game plan: capture the culture, the politics will follow. Conservatives must recapture the culture. It is vital to contest the political battlefield, but the more important places to  concentrate forces are the media, universities, publishing houses, law schools, seminaries, libraries, foundations and of course the public schools – that is, all the opinion-molding organs of society. When the playing field is leveled out in those arenas (or even better tilted back to the right), then the goal of restoring American culture and politics becomes achievable.

If, on the other hand, one believes that the cause is hopelessly lost and the nation inevitably doomed, then one must ponder the unthinkable. Conservatives must begin to formulate plans to carve out a new nation from the wreckage. I have no idea how that can be accomplished peacefully; but let us keep in mind the words of the Declaration of Independence:

Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the
governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these
ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute
new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its
powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety
and Happiness.

This essay also appeared in Th Intellectual Conservative at: