Cede Ground on Social Issues? For the Most Part, No.

The only thing I would recommend changing slightly is the opposition to gay marriage. We should absolutely hold the line on protecting religious liberty — and we should continue the conversation on marriage and its true purpose on a cultural level (more on that below). But surely there is some clever way we can tweak the rules for hospital visitation and the like and thereby publicly acknowledge that our LGBT fellow citizens are people with feelings that deserve our respect. Right now, many in the Obama camp – especially the folks who are my age and younger – are convinced we hate gays and wish them ill. Is this a grossly unfair characterization? For the vast majority of us, yes. But if we keep ignoring that attitude, the left will continue to hang it like an albatross around our neck. Reality is what it is, and complaining about Obama’s opportunistic flip-flop on the issue isn’t going to change that.

That being said, I believe it would be a huge mistake to abandon our identity by completely giving up the beachhead on social issues. We have a moral duty to uphold the truth, no matter how unpalatable it may sound to ears that have been stuffed with pop-cultural trash. And what is that truth, pray tell? Simply this: The promotion of radical libertinism has been an unmitigated disaster for our society. Even the academics are with us on this one; social science has illustrated time and time again that women and children in particular are struggling in our current cultural milieu. And here’s the key for those who fear the Leviathan: High divorce and out-of-wedlock birth rates not only wound millions spiritually, emotionally, and economically, but they also breed a population that looks to the state for comfort. We conservatives all thought Obama’s “Julia” info-graphic was bizarre and creepy because the eponymous character apparently had no one in her life to lean on besides the government — but to a second generation single mother, that info-graphic was comforting because she genuinely feels she has no alternative. Exit polls reveal that Obama overwhelmingly won over those voters who were looking for a leader who “understood my problems.” Were these voters wrong-headed? Hell to the yes! If you’re worried about putting gas in your car and food on your table, Obama is the last candidate you should’ve picked. More generally, a distant politician in Washington is too busy to genuinely give a rat’s butt about you personally. Still, we ignore what such an exit poll result indicates at our own peril.

Again, if we wish to maintain our honor and build a society conducive to liberty, we can’t set aside the social issues for the sake of political convenience. However, I do think we need to change our approach to the debate. Number one, I think we should hold a mandatory boot camp for all pro-life politicians in which they will be aggressively trained – with electronic dog collars if necessary – on what they should and shouldn’t say. Because really — we should never again allow the mainstream media to tarnish our brand because some well-meaning but clueless Akin put his foot – no, his whole leg – in it. Blah, blah, media bias and all that, but let me reemphasize: Reality is what it is. We should work to take down the media, yes, but in the meantime, we have to adapt. Number two, as Andrew Klavan and others have observed, we can’t be afraid to go after the culture. I saw somebody suggest in the comments of one blog that we spend our money on ads that present our pro-life, pro-family views in ways that are logical, appealing and non-threatening, and I think that’s a good idea. Personally, I nominate the young folks at 1Flesh for that task. We also need to break out of the Christian ghetto and send our kids to the viper’s den that is Hollywood to make movies and TV shows that, at the very least, won’t automatically endorse the idea that we social conservatives are imbecilic bigots who want to beat up gays and send women back to the kitchen. The arguments on our side are sound, but they’re not reaching the masses because our cultural gate keepers are blocking the transmission. I say we storm those gates.

3 thoughts on “Cede Ground on Social Issues? For the Most Part, No.

  1. The problem with Hollywood is that conservatives are blacklisted. What you want us to do in the culture is impossible for us to do overtly in Hollywood. However, we CAN build alternatives…2016: Obama's America set records for documentary box office take and movies like “October Baby” make a profit routinely. We need to push them through secondary channels to get them to the big screen, and we need our own network of critics and columnists to comment on those movies so that conservatives can bypass the snobbery that frequently emerges on RottenTomatoes.com, but it's something that's important and worth doing.

    We also need more of our own television channels. So that we're free to make TV programming that conservatives will want to watch – and we have to make that television attractive to other audiences…we cannot advertise our networks the way Fox News does (hey! We're the CONSERVATIVE CHANNEL!!!!)…we have to advertise these things as appealing to the American spirit…use code words conservatives know but liberals have forgotten.


  2. Yes — independent movies like October Baby do make a profit routinely. However, I think that's possible to do without successfully reaching the people we need to convince. Multiply millions of committed conservatives times the eleven dollar ticket price and you get a hefty chunk of change — but you don't actually change the culture.

    Don't get me wrong: I love watching conservative and Christian movies produced by outside houses, and I will continue to support such productions whenever I can. But we just haven't reached the Hollywood level when it comes to our scope of influence because we just don't have Hollywood's advantages. We don't have the star power, we don't have the effects studios and the creature shops, and we don't have the giant promotions machine. On the latter, we rely primarily on word of mouth, and that will get us no where.

    Bottom line: In order for us to make real, lasting cultural headway, all of the above-mentioned infrastructure needs to be built — and in order to build it, we need to learn from the experts. Hence my belief that we need to send our kids to Hollywood. It will suck for them, true. They will have to spend many long years keeping their mouths clamped firmly shut. But in the end, they will know the immense satisfaction of turning Hollywood's tools against the entrenched leftist elite.

    And by the way, a related note: I had an attack of mania recently and wrote up an outline for an entire four-year home-based high school curriculum, and that curriculum turned out to be dominated by the liberal arts. Yes, the STEM subjects are there too (and they will be taught rigorously), but art, music appreciation, philosophy, religion, history, civics, literature, composition and speech take up the lion's share of the instructional hours. Why? Because I firmly believe that the left's arguments are persuasive only to those who have divorced themselves from our civilization's patrimony. Additionally, if we want to raise kids who can stick it to Hollywood, the mainstream news media, and the radical pseudo-intellectuals in academia, we need to raise kids who can write and create. We need to nurture conservative young people who have gifts in these areas so they'll be able to transcend political categories and speak to the people directly.

    Just my $0.02.


  3. Having grown up focused almost exclusively on STEM and then learned to love writing, history, philosophy, theology and government/civics only because I happened to get a rare collection of good professors in college in those subjects…I can say that I agree that the humanities need to be the top priority. Having had to attempt to read butchered language throughout the scientific literature in order to gain the knowledge I need in STEM, I think scientists IN PARTICULAR need to be good writers.

    And I would agree with your points about needing to teach young people to become technically proficient in cultural messaging. Filming arts, acting and journalism need to be our top priorities.


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