A conservative friend of mine was looking at the political and moral horizon and complained that he thought all was lost. He sought in vain for signs of hope and asked if there might be something, however small, that would serve as an indicator that the conservative cause has a future.
He no doubt felt the impact of liberal media that have long reported on the coming demise of the conservative movement by magnifying the internal struggles that frequently take place inside its ranks. The media also like to convey the idea that it is senseless to oppose the liberal agenda which they claim is on the winning side of history.
The problem is that many conservatives like my friend are so absorbed by our own misfortunes that they often fail to see any other facet of the struggle. My friend’s despairing analysis of the situation curiously took place last mid-November.
Had he looked just a little farther, he would have spotted a train wreck of massive proportions on the other side of the political divide. The Democrats had just suffered one of their greatest electoral defeats since the 1920’s. Rising from the smoldering ruins could be found a new Republican-dominated Senate and a House with a strengthened majority of 247 of the chamber’s 435 seats. Only 18 Democratic governors remained in power and most statehouses remained overwhelmingly in the hands of the Republicans. The electoral map revealed patches of blue in a vast sea of red.
If my friend was looking for a sign, this was a big one with flashing neon-lights that even now shines for all to see. He could have read on this sign that the left’s plight is arguably worse than that of the right.
In fact, that is the message now appearing among the liberals. Apart from a strong presidential candidate that has some traction, the sub-presidential fields all look bleak with people using terms like “free fall” and “dire.” The New York Times Magazine (May 12, 2015) pretty much opened up the game with a long feature article by Robert Draper titled “The Great Democratic Crack-Up of 2016.” The story amply documented the fact that the liberal cause is floundering and unfocused—and they do not know what to do about it.
Draper shows how shifts by Democrats to the extreme left and to the center have both failed to produce consistent results. The solution must entail much more than merely tweaking their message. The problem, he claims, is that the Democrats have managed to adopt “a party brand that has come to be viewed in much of America with abiding disfavor.”
Three reasons can be given to explain why the liberals are in trouble.
The first reason is that the Democrats have lost the heartland. They have abandoned those notions of family, faith and community that so many hold dear, and are so much a part of our national consensus, identity and narrative. Liberals have lost ground because they have come to resent the idea of self-restraint and thus scorn the heartland’s spiritual, religious, moral, and cultural values that normally serve to establish order and temper economic activity.
Secondly, liberals have increasingly embraced the post-modern wasteland. They are absorbed by what might be called the frenetic intemperance of our days where everyone must have everything instantly, effortlessly and often with taxpayer’s money. They have adopted an extreme individualism where they believe each is completely free to construct an eternally new self, complete with new genders and new identities. Reality becomes whatever each determines it to be, and big government is the enabling power that is supposed to make it all happen.
Finally, the fact that Democrats have shifted from heartland to wasteland is in itself not enough to cause Americans to reject their program. Rather it is the brutal manner by which they impose it upon the nation that makes people uneasy. It is as if the liberals have taken the nation on a barreling train ride to the wasteland and will brook no opposition (not even within their own party). Their agenda advances not by popular vote but more by executive orders, judicial fiats and media spectacles. While the wasteland’s rich and powerful pseudo-elites enjoyed the ride, the heartland’s bakers, florists and small businessmen protested in November 2014 against immoral mandates by standing on the tracks which derailed the train.
What my friend needs to see is that the liberal cause is not monolithic; it is in trouble because it has failed to conquer the heart and soul of America. What is needed is a return to order. It is time to get off the train and find our way back to the heartland.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.
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