January 6, 2005

The right is fighting a culture war to "save" us

Is my entire liberal existence a loathsome lie? I was raised to value rugged intellectualism, aspire to speak French, drink lattés, drive Volvos—OK, well maybe not, but you get it. How did the term "Northeast liberal" become an insult? There are people in our country who elect leaders whose policies inherently hurt them. These people in red America are incensed. And they have displaced their anger onto the elite liberals who control the media, the universities, the airwaves, and who are living inauthentic lives alien to "real America." These reds are the true Americans, farming our food, watching NASCAR, worshipping God, and caring about the simple, true, and good things in this world.

The inhabitants of red America believe themselves to be the real martyrs of society. Some compare themselves to the abolitionists who fought to liberate our country from the trenches of slavery. The conservatives are fighting a culture war that has been raging since the 1960s. These cons view the '60s as the time when America went into the gutter. Our society lost our moral core. Suddenly women were taking pills (one in particular), and television was rife with vulgarity. A racial divide was plaguing our country, and the Dixiecratic (southerners who voted Democrats because Lincoln was a Republican) were the last remaining Democratic base in the South. However, today's cons care less about race and more about morality. They believe the moral structure of America is unraveling due to the liberals' control. And in their mind the Liberals will forever be entrenched in America. These intellectuals took over the government under FDR, tainting free market capitalism by creating the New Deal and Social Security. It does not matter how many times Republicans are elected to the Presidency—in the past 50 years there have been four Democratic presidents—these liberals will always control media and pop culture.

Despite the conservative backlash against the liberal elite, television is more vulgar, women are still having abortions, and people are still outwardly homosexual. Certain societal trends cannot be tamed. However, while the conservatives fight tirelessly for reform, the economy is in shambles. The great question of our day is how could people re-elect a President who will rob them of their chance for prosperity? John Kerry proposed a better healthcare system, a better social security system, and a better chance for economic recovery. And yet, none of this mattered—the cons had other issues on their minds.

No one understands this paradox of our time more clearly than Thomas Franks. His latest book What's the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, offers one compelling, well thought out, and well researched answer to this dilemma. Franks, a U of C alumnus, illustrates a world where Kansas, once the liberal stronghold of America, continually votes for conservatives who are ruining the future for blue-collar America—a world of increased deregulation, privatization, and corporate control.

The same president who bashes the East Coast liberal elites is the one who attended Yale, has more money than most of the country, and was handed everything on a silver platter. The cons are indeed full of contradictions. George W. Bush won this election because cons are a lot angrier, more organized, passionate, and driven then anyone suspected. They turned out in record numbers to give the elite and connected more freedom, flexibility, and wealth. Beating these cons is going to be a long and arduous process that the present Democratic party is not yet prepared for.