Regarding Jeff Minick’s April 2019 article, “Happy Warriors:” The reason the Left is winning is because they actually fight for their side in the culture war while the Right does not. And since, as the saying goes, politics is downstream of culture, the winner of the culture war is going to dominate the political system.
The Left engages in, to use “Pentagonese,” full spectrum operations. Propaganda/info ops, street actions, lawfare, civil disobedience, deplatforming dissenters, indoctrination on campus, production of movies, plays and television programming, and electoral politics. More recently, the Left has made open calls for violence with the “punch a Nazi” line—a “Nazi” defined as anyone the Left chooses to call that name, like Trump rally attendees.
Consequently, they outmaneuver their conservative foes who limit themselves to writing position papers (which nobody reads) and turning out the party faithful to vote for RINOs every two-to-four years.
The Leftist paradigm of open borders and more socialism is not a symptom of a lack of ideas, but a consolidation of their power. Open borders means flooding the U.S. with third-worlders who will become a Democratic voting base, giving the Left permanent majorities. More fundamentally, if you change the demographics you change the culture. Displace traditional American heroes from Thomas Jefferson to John Wayne and replace them with Che Guevara and Trayvon Martin. We see this process being completed here in California where it is unlikely we will again see a Republican governor or assembly majority.
Consider the Left’s performance in the recent Kavanaugh hearings, which included demonstrations, harassment of their opponents, and a media-supported smear campaign. Or the liberal pile-on against the Covington high school students. Or the leftists who shut down Milo’s speech at UC Berkeley. Since the Left attacks on multiple fronts, their campaigns seize the initiative, throwing conservatives onto the defensive.
And who wins in a war? The side which maintains the initiative.
A case in point has been the rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC). Conservatives have attempted to attack her with moronic references about “occasional cortex.” Actually, the strategy behind AOC is brilliant. The Democrats let their radicals take the lead, disrupting the system with extreme demands, then follow-on by pushing programs which appear reasonable in contrast. And while Republicans might scoff at AOC, her “socialist” pronouncements are becoming the Democratic platform. No doubt in one or two election cycles, National Review will be promoting them as “natural conservatism.”
The Left supports its radicals. Obama referred to the then recently deceased Trayvon Martin as a surrogate son, while the Democrats at their 2016 national convention brought Black Lives Matter onto their platform. Compare this to conservatives throwing their own radicals under the bus. Heck, a majority Republican Congress refused to even support Donald Trump on basic issues such as building the border wall. . . .
Then we ask why the Left is winning.
Rank-and-file Americans see themselves as being abandoned by Republican politicians who make campaign promises then disappear into assorted legislative committees and Beltway think tanks to hold hearings and write papers which accomplish nothing. Even with the mass de-platforming of conservatives from social media—which means a loss of access to communications, media and finance—the Republicans have done nothing to break up or even regulate the IT companies, fully doable under the various anti-trust acts.
People are more impressed by action than arguments. We have seen leftists harass Trump administration officials publicly, with Kirstjen Nielsen, [ex-]head of the Department of Homeland Security, being chased out of a public restaurant by protesters. . . .
What then is the more powerful tactic?
Suppose a hundred conservatives wearing MAGA caps marched into that restaurant and pounded on the tables, demanding service? What if a thousand conservatives paraded onto UC Berkeley with banners proclaiming free speech and chanting slogans in defiance of campus speech codes? What if ten thousand conservatives were to declare that they would meet any “punch a Nazi” violence against their rallies and speakers with equal (and legal) defensive force ... and then follow up with action?
These actions would do more to rally Americans behind the Right than all the well-reasoned talking points from Burke to Wills. . . .
The failure of Western leaders to appreciate the value of propaganda and street actions was a point that James Burnham hit home on in his Cold War trilogy and his collection of essays. As Mr. Minick notes, education and engaging in a war of ideas are important. But conservatives are not going to win this war by changing television channels.
We need something to really shake the system, like a total boycott of the media. If one million conservatives canceled their cable television services, took the money they now send in to what are essentially leftist propaganda organs, and instead contributed the cash to up-and-coming pro-right organizations, it would be a revolution.
Suppose a conservative think tank or entrepreneur where to subsidize the building of an alternative social media system . . . such a network has the potential to completely undermine the current leftist-dominated IT monopolies . . .
Time for our side to step up and win the culture war.
Mr. Minick Replies:
Mr. Miranda makes many good points. Many Republicans, for example, do feel betrayed, and justly so, by their representatives in Congress, who for years have won office by running as conservatives and then losing their fire for the cause. And yes, as I pointed out, the Left right now has control over vital parts of the culture—the educational system and the media in particular. I agree as well with Mr. Miranda that the Right needs to be more aggressive in defending everything from our borders to our country’s history (I won’t wear a yellow vest, but pick a different color, and I’ll step up).
One point of “Happy Warriors”—and perhaps I should have made this more explicit—is that the Right needs to stop its handwringing and predications of doom, and offer people a positive and patriotic vision of tradition and conservatism. We are in a war, as both Mr. Miranda and I point out, but hearts sunken in despair rarely win battles. We must fight hopeful of victory, certain of our cause and, as Mr. Miranda points out, always aware of the tactics of the Left.
That said, I disagree with Mr. Miranda’s opening statement that “the Left is winning.” I think that issue is still very much in doubt. Otherwise, how do we explain the election of Donald Trump? How else do we explain the hysteria of progressives and the mainstream media over the last three years? Their wailing and savage rancor are not the marks of an army sure of victory.
We can defeat the radical Left using some of the strategies and tactics proposed both by Mr. Miranda and myself. To win that war, we must win the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. We must offer them hope, a vision, a dream in which, as Winston Churchill once said, “the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.”