Politics & Policy

Maybe Our Values Don’t Need Changing

It’s time to embrace “the vision thing” and proselytize for conservative principles.

The most widely offered explanation for Mitt Romney’s defeat is that the Republican party is disproportionately composed of (usually “aging”) white males.

That is, alas, true.

But the real question is what Republicans should do with this truth.

There are two responses.

The nearly universal response — meaning the response offered by the liberal media and liberal academics (and some Republicans) — is that the Republican party needs to rethink its positions, which means moving away from conservatism and toward the political center.

The other response is for conservatives and the Republican party to embark on a massive campaign to influence, and ultimately change, the values of those groups that voted for Democrats.

The Democratic party and the Left generally have done a magnificent job in identifying conservative values as white-male values. One reason for their success is that they dominate virtually every lever of influence: the high schools and universities, television, newspapers, movies, pop culture, and everything else except talk radio. Another is that they really believe that conservative values are nothing more than white-male — especially aging-white-male — values. Remember, Leftism has its own trinity, the prism through which it perceives the world: race, gender, and class. In this case, the race is white; the gender is male; and the class is the rich.

As a result of this identification, there is no debate over whether whose values are right. The Left has successfully forestalled any such national discussion by simply reducing conservative values to the dying fulminations of a former ruling class.

In the words of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, “Mitt Romney is the president of white male America.”

This identification seems to be working. But it’s intellectually dishonest. Aging white males are as important to the Left as they are to the Right.

In a recent issue of The New York Review of Books, liberal Harvard professor Benjamin M. Friedman strongly criticized the Tea Party. After citing “surveys showing that Tea Party members are ‘predominantly white, male, older, more college-educated, and better off economically than typical Americans,’” he noted parenthetically, “they sound like, say, readers of The New York Review of Books.”

Come to think of it, these people who make up the Tea Party also sound like the people who attend classical-music concerts and endow concert halls, museums, hospitals, and universities, and fund left-wing causes (George Soros, for example).

Perhaps when this generation of aging white males dies off, aging women, aging Latino and black males, and young people will become the readers of journals such as The New York Review of Books, and they will endow symphony orchestras.

I suspect not. And if not, the Left may come to regret its contempt for this particular group. Without aging white males, I doubt the New York Times would survive. How many young people, females, Hispanics, and blacks subscribe to the New York Times?

Obviously the issue for the Left isn’t aging white males; it is conservatives, whether they are young or old, white or nonwhite, male or female. If female aborigines were conservative, the Left would have a problem with female aborigines.

For conservatives, the issue is that for generations now, they have failed to make the case for their values. They haven’t even conveyed conservative values to many of their children. And when they have, the university has often succeeded in undoing what they’ve taught.

The only answer to the “demographic” problem, therefore, is to bring women (single women, to be precise), young people, Hispanics, and blacks to conservative values. I wrote a column in September (“It’s Not Just the Economy, Stupid!”) criticizing the Romney campaign for talking only about jobs and the economy. President Obama kept saying that this election was about two different visions of America. But like George Herbert Walker Bush, the Romney campaign appeared to disdain “the vision thing.”

Our only hope for America is that every conservative takes upon him or herself the project of learning what American and conservative values are, coming to understand what Leftism stands for, and learning how to make the case for those values to women, young people, blacks, and Hispanics. That is what my radio show, latest book, and Prager University are about. And while I am, happily, hardly alone, there are still far too few of us who understand “the vision thing.” Surely the Republican establishment does not.

We should proselytize for the American Trinity (Liberty, In God We Trust, E Pluribus Unum) as least as passionately as the Left has proselytized for its antithesis (Egalitarianism, Secularism, and Multiculturalism). Or we will lose America as we have always known it.

— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. He may be contacted through his website, dennisprager.com.


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