Diary

Constructive Lessons Conservatives Should Learn from Obama

I’ll begin by saying that it is hardly possible to exaggerate the EXTENT of media bias–the vast majority of television and print media is utterly and hopelessly in the tank for Democrats, and has a visceral hatred toward Republicans or anything that smacks of conservatism. Even when this hatred isn’t on the surface, it’s so deeply ingrained that even what they choose to cover is shaped by a severe left wing bias.

Blaming the media for our political troubles, however, risks ignoring a deeper problem. A problem without which media bias simply wouldn’t matter. And that is the extent to which our nation’s very culture and public institutions, at their smallest levels, have succeeded in providing fertile soil for liberalism. When the MSM comes along, they are only reinforcing ideas that have already been planted. Were there more conservative voices in the media, the problem would remain because conservatism is, to a growing proportion of the population, almost a foreign language. It’s not that they DON’T hear it so much as they CAN’T.

It’s interesting to consider the trajectory of Barack Obama in this light, one that actually mirrors that of contemporary leftism. Obama started as a community organizer, agitating for various causes in the streets of Chicago. Then he got involved in the schools, trying to inject into them leftist curricula. Only later, did he begin wielding top-down rather than bottom-up power.

This, more than the media, is the challenge we face. To an increasing extent, K-12 and higher education and community action groups are out there preparing the ground for battle in ways which favor liberals. Under these circumstances, if we only fight for conservatism during elections, then we lose.

The problem here, obviously, is that conservatives cannot simply mimic the efforts of Obama and the left on all fronts because doing so violates some of our core beliefs. If you believe in individual liberty and responsibility, freedom of thought and action, you don’t start trying to brainwash school kids. Our involvement still matters though, if only to press back. Conservatives need to get more active in local PTAS, run for school boards, and look for other ways to get involved in their own communities.

Unfortunately, a lot of this is thankless, difficult, and highly unglamorous work. A movement needs foot soldiers, however, as much as it does generals. And the most important fights are NOT even elections. Elections are simply those moments when we check the score board.

I think that this is something Obama was completely right about, and which he understood very early on.

There’s yet another dimension to this, and that relates to popular culture and the arts and the ways in which they shape political attitudes. This is a real shame because some of the top contemporary creators of fiction, drama, poetry, music, and film out there are conservative but get barely any support or attention from conservatives. They’re left to contend by themselves with the liberals who dominate these fields. But that’s a very long story, so I’ll leave it for later.