The Corner

Re: Rust Belt Blues

Michael’s New York Post column is a must-read for conservatives. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: It’s the culture, stupid. Elections matter, but the fate of the nation rests in the heart and character of her people, and Tea Party victories can be lost almost as quickly as they’re won if we do what Obama did in 2008 — overinterpret election results. When voters rejected the Democrats in 2010, they weren’t necessarily embracing conservatism, and if we pretend that they were, we run the risk of backlash.

At present, we face a profound cultural disadvantage. The Left has been spending two generations (and more) doing the hard work of capturing the great opinion-making institutions of our culture: the academy, pop culture, media, and much of the clergy. Our relatively modest pushback hasn’t made much of an impact on education or Hollywood, and at best we have a divided clergy, with each side able to trot out their own pastors. As for media, I’d trade places with the Left in a heartbeat. After all, when one side has all the broadcast networks, all the cable networks but one, and all but a few major print dailies, then that side can do things like, oh, transform the Occupy Wall Street clown show into something approximating a sixties-style protest movement . . . at least until the casualties start mounting.

I hope conservatives can pullout a victory in Ohio, but if we can’t even make the sale regarding the utter fiscal irresponsibility of public-employee salaries and benefits — salaries and benefits that impact a tiny minority of voters, by the way — then we’ve got a very long way to go before we can truly tackle entitlements or sell America on limited government and greater self-reliance.  

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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