Posted by Tony Listi on August 1, 2010
Tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way, however. It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you. For if you seek the votes of your fellow citizens, they will withhold them, and if you seek only their esteem, they will feign to refuse even that. You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.
— Alexis de Tocqueville
A friend of mine drew my attention to a very important article written by Jeff Schafer at the Alliance Defense Fund. It’s entitled “Stigma and Dogma, Revisited.”
This article re-echoes something that De Tocqueville (quoted above) observed early on about the dangerous tendencies of democratic culture. Stigma and social pressure rule the day in a democracy.
Yet stigma and social pressure were what kept the U.S. conservative and free for so long, esp. with regard to our current social issues. In the early history of America, abortion and deviations from traditional marriage were so powerfully and thoroughly stigmatized that they were not political issues at all. Not so anymore.
Stigma is the expression of moral outrage. The article reminds me of one of the Leadership Institute’s Laws of the Public Policy Process: “Moral outrage is the most powerful motivating force in politics.”
If conservatives are to take the long-term view of changing the culture in order to win (as the left did over a century ago), we have to be willing to publicly engage in the Stigma War. Big govt., govt. coercion, govt. dependency, promiscuity, sexual perversity, infanticide, etc. must all become shameful, stigmatized things again. Conservatives have to be willing to publicly denounce these things as immoral and shameful.
Why do you think the left likes to engage in name-calling? Racist, sexist, homophobe, bigot, etc. All these epithets are intended to stigmatize conservative views, whether the labels rationally apply or not. And they’ve done a pretty good job of it.
When people evaluate candidates or policies, it is moral factors that determine their choices; it is the elements of shame and guilt that convince people to be politically active and to hold certain political views with intensity.
We need not lose hope completely that the world is doomed to irrationality though. Feelings of guilt, shame, and moral outrage do not spring up spontaneously or irrationally; they are rooted in certain rational, though often false, paradigms and faith systems. The problem with the left is not that they aren’t rational; they are, assuming their faith-based assumptions to be true. It’s the fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality, human nature, and justice that separate us from them. (And these false assumption are inculcated into Americans through the cultural institutions of primary schools, academia, arts & entertainment, churches, and the media.)
We need to bring the reasons for our political faith and assumptions to the surface in the most clear, concise, direct, impactful, and thought-provoking ways possible. And this is where the necessity of activism comes in. And good activism is based on good organizational preparation beforehand that gathers the people and resources to make activism effective.
Moreover, activism should be directed not merely at challenging current leftist stigmas and dogmas but toward recapturing the cultural institutions mentioned above that inculcate these false stigmas and dogmas into American youth (and older).
Posted in Abortion, American Culture, American History, Culture War, Democracy, Education, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Marriage, Moral Philosophy, Political Activism, Political Philosophy, Political Psychoanalysis, Race, Racism, and Affirmative Action, Student Activism, Written by Me | Tagged: conservative, culture, diversity, failure, guilt, leftist, moral, outrage, political correctness, politics, pressure, public, shame, stigma, success, war, win | 1 Comment »
Posted by Tony Listi on February 28, 2010
Conservatives of all ages tend to be very short-sighted and ineffective when it comes to political warfare. They put all their energy into electoral and legislative battles but largely ignore the crucial Culture War that CampusReform.org fights daily.
When things get bad politically, conservatives volunteer and work for campaigns, for political parties, and for already elected officials. And when they win an election or legislative battle, they rejoice and go back to their normal lives…until the other side starts winning the elections and policy battles again.
But a battle here or there in itself is meaningless. Who is winning the war? The left is.
Why? Because despite the Reagan Revolution and the consequent short-lived ascendance of the Republican Party, the overall trend in public policy has been toward more government control of the economy and more government-pushed erosion of traditional moral values.
How did this happen? Conservatives have allowed the left to largely dominate the key cultural institutions that shape and determine political outcomes: schools, arts & entertainment industry, churches, and the media.
Create a leftist electorate and leftists will get elected. Simple as that.
While conservatives thought they were turning the tide in the 80s, 90s, and first half of the 00s, leftists had a better long-term strategy, steadily increasing their control over American culture, especially youth culture. All of a sudden, young people helped Barack Obama get elected, not just with their votes but also with the favorable image and winning psychology they provided him.
But which cultural institutions should be a priority for conservatives? The leftist monopoly on the media has been broken. FOX News, talk radio, and the internet have seen to that. Conservatives still do better than leftists among the church-going crowd because of the pro-life and pro-marriage factions of the conservative movement that Reagan and George W. Bush brought on board. But the left has made some gains over time, deceiving many Christians into believing that government can be compassionate and charitable.
But neither the churches nor the media has as great an influence on young Americans as do our schools and the arts & entertainment industry. Teachers unions, liberal professors, Hollywood airheads, musical blowhards, and misguided entertainers promote Big Government and immoral lifestyles among the young.
We shouldn’t have to wait and hope for sincerely misguided young liberals to grow up to become conservatives. If we take these institutions seriously and meet the challenge of reclaiming them, there will be more cradle-to-grave conservatives and more effective, intense conservative activists generation after generation.
Why are young people crucial to long-term political success?
- It will take generations to undo what the left has inflicted on us over several generations.
- They are future candidates, campaign staffers, campaign donors, activists, teachers, professors, artists, actors, musicians, priests, pastors, pundits, and journalists.
- They can recruit and persuade their peers to join and be active in the conservative movement.
- The young today become the electorate that decides tomorrow’s elections.
- They will have children who eventually join the Culture War and the electorate that decides future elections.
Therefore, the most important policy endeavors conservatives can undertake lie in the realm of education, at both the primary and college level.
The left has understood this and is patient, fighting the daily battles always with the long-term cultural objective in mind. If conservatives want their principles to win, they will follow suit, giving priority of time and resources to supporting student activists!
Here’s what you can do to join the ranks in the broader war for the hearts and minds of American youth:
- Support the mission of CampusReform.org by getting active in or creating a conservative student group on your campus!
- Support CampusReform.org financially! Help fund political training for young conservatives!
- Tell all your like-minded friends about CampusReform.org! Spread the word about the crucial importance of youth politics!
- Make school choice for parents a top legislative priority in your state!
Posted in American Culture, American History, Art and Creativity, Culture War, Education, Elections and Campaigns, Government and Politics, Hollywood and the Film Industry, Political Activism, Student Activism, The Media, Old and New, Written by Me | Tagged: 2010, academia, activism, activists, arts, campaign, churches, cultural, culture, Culture War, Education, effective, election, electoral, entertainment, institution, leisure, media, November, parental choice, policy, political, politics, school choice, schools, student, success, victory, vouchers, young, youth | Leave a Comment »