Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Understanding the Election Results beyond Skin Deep

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In just the way some voters believed that Obama’s 2008 ascendancy heralded a new era of hope-and-change leftist hegemony, it’s easy to view the November 2 elections as the beginning of an unstoppable tidal wave of Tea Party triumph. But while I can get caught up in moments just like anyone else — I awoke bug-eyed after staying up freakishly late watching election returns — I always bear in mind that politics is but a series of moments and that, in reality, it’s only in places such as England that tea time is a permanent fixture.

For sure, the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Axis (which, lamentably, is still intact, although its shock troops have been decimated at the Battle of Midterm) put the fear of government into much of the electorate. Yet fear, like all emotion, is a transitory state. A cat may find itself fleeing from a donkey one day and an elephant the next.

And that was the difference this election: The independents who fled from the Republicans just two years ago ran from the Democrats last week. And while many want to view the results as a soulful sea change in America, the reality is that the same old patterns emerged. As always, those independents were the deciding factor: While they favored Democrats over Republicans 51 to 43 percent in 2008, this year it was 55 to 39 in favor of the GOP. Additionally, although the degree varied, other patterns held as well. Young voters and blacks — two major building blocks of Obama’s 2008 victory — were less likely to vote than older voters and whites, and their return to pre-2008 turnout levels contributed to the Democrats’ shellacking. Yet, true to form, those who did vote overwhelming chose Democrats. As for Hispanics, despite the fact that many Hispanic candidates won races this year, the group’s turnout was the same as in 2008. And its passions didn’t change much, either: Hispanics favored Democrats over Republicans 68 to 29 percent in 2008 and 65 to 33 this year.

Then there are the sexes. As usual, women voted in greater numbers than men, constituting 53 percent of those who cast ballots. And while they did swing toward the Republicans this year — they chose Democrats over the GOP 56 to 42 percent in 2008 while favoring them only 49 to 48 this time around — that old sex gap was still apparent. Men were far more likely to vote Republican, favoring the party 55 to 43. Clearly — and contrary to the politically correct (and usually conservative-advanced) narrative — it’s men who are sweetening the party’s tea (59 percent of Tea Party supporters are men). Had only women voted Tuesday, the Democrats would likely have picked up seats.

But transitioning from political moments to political movements, there is another pattern. It is an ominous one that, even more than those above, shows no sign whatsoever of changing: America’s steady drift toward the left.

Coming on the heels of a GOP tidal wave, many will find this statement outrageous; others won’t like me throwing cold water on the party. Yet Tuesday’s results were, again, political — they did nothing to change the culture. And, over the long term, the political just follows the cultural.

To illustrate this deeper problem, I’ll begin with a simple fact: A 2009 Rasmussen poll showed that only 53 percent of Americans believe “capitalism” is superior to socialism. But even more significant is that those under age 30 are almost equally divided on the question. Additionally, an even more recent survey showed that for the first time, young men joined young women in being more likely to describe themselves as liberal than conservative.

As for the latter, some may point out that people generally become more conservative as they age, which is true. But the point is that these 20-somethings are starting out being more liberal than previous generations, which is reflective of the very leftward shifting political spectrum of which I speak. Moreover, “liberal” and “conservative” are relative terms which generally describe, respectively, the left and right sides of that political spectrum. Thus, as the spectrum moves left, “liberal” becomes more liberal. This is why “liberal” John F. Kennedy was very different from fellow “liberal” Bay Stater Barney Frank.

The evidence for this shift can be found in non-relative measures. First, young liberals of a generation ago were never so accepting of socialism, an ideology that, although often misunderstood, does have a constant definition. Young liberals of a generation ago also never supported faux marriage, yet, today, 65 percent of college freshman favor it (including 24 percent of the “most conservative” students). Now, some may say that this is only because it wasn’t even an issue 25 years ago, but that is precisely the point: This unprecedented attack upon the linchpin of society’s foundational unit (the family) is something new. It’s why we’ve had to have ballot referenda defending marriage in the first place. And it’s what, using relative terms, we call leftward movement.

Attitudes toward socialism and marriage are just two social barometers, but others — perhaps with the exception of the pro-life issue — mirror them. Young people are less likely to attend church, are less opposed to illegal immigration, are more accepting of abnormal sexuality, are more receptive to big government solutions and are less likely to believe in objective morality (which really is the crux of the issue) than previous generations. It’s a steady degeneration, an unrelenting attack upon tradition. And if conservatism doesn’t stand for the preservation of that timeless thing, Truth — if it’s just about maintaining an ever-changing status quo which has been forged from earlier liberal victories — it means nothing.

To understand why this cultural shift has been occurring, you only have to know who controls the agents of cultural change. Studies once found that 95 percent of college professors are registered Democrats and that, even beyond the beltway, Democrat reporters outnumber Republican ones by a three-to-one margin. But we don’t need studies to know that academia and the media, along with Hollywood, are great bastions of anti-tradition, anti-American, and anti-Christian (did I just repeat myself?) unthought.

And the Education-Entertainment-News Axis dominates the whole culture. Consider academia: Observers often lament the fact that millions of Muslim boys are taught jihadist ideas in thousands of madrassahs (Muslim schools) across the Islamic world precisely because they know that, to paraphrase Lincoln, “The teaching in the schools today becomes the politics of tomorrow.” Well, in our liberal madrassahs — euphemistically known as public schools — children are indoctrinated with politically correct ideology. This is why, as writer Ben Shapiro relates in his book Brainwashed, there is one chapter of life where age doesn’t bring conservative change: the four years of college, a period during which students actually become more liberal. This is then reinforced by the entertainment they regularly imbibe and whatever news (MTV, The Daily Show, etc.) to which they’re exposed. Is it any wonder they’re becoming liberal jihadists?

Some may say I’m overly pessimistic, that the Tea Party movement reflects an erstwhile silent majority awakened by a rapacious federal beast that went a bridge too far. But while there is some truth to this, the reality is that such Americans represent a minority of the electorate. More significantly, their noble dream is ideological purity in the political realm; of what good is it, however, if ideological corruption reigns in the cultural realm, the only one that could make that dream a reality? For you can field ideologically superior, if not ideologically pure, candidates — such as Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, Linda McMahon, and Carly Fiorina — but culturally poisoned voters won’t support them. Oh, the problem is that Delaware, Nevada, Connecticut, and California are just too liberal, you say? That’s just another way of saying that the cultural cancer is more advanced in those states.

The reality is that among those who turn elections, those “independents” (who, so often, are surely independent of any consistent guiding principles), there has been little if any substantive ideological change. Most are simply people who continually move from port to starboard and back again on a ship steadily drifting left. When too many of the deck chairs are positioned on the port side, as was the case during the last two years, they get scared and move right; and when too many of the chairs are found starboard (or when the media can create the illusion they are there), they scurry to the left. Like so many, however, they don’t perceive the vessel’s overall drift.

The always clever political satirist P.J. O’Rourke recently said that the events of November 2 were not an election but a “restraining order.” But while the leftist politicians may be restrained, for a time, that civilization-rending perpetual-motion machine will churn unabated. After January 3, as before it, college professors and schoolteachers will be brainwashing the young, Hollywood will be disgorging corruptive propaganda, the Internet will be used more for evil than good, and the media will be spinning the news. These arenas are where the true battle lies. And unless traditionalists can somehow work a miracle, seize control of the culture and anchor the good ship America to something immovable, like Truth, her future will be one of dark nights, stormy seas, and a foundering on the jagged rocks of fate.

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