I was listening to NPR the other day, and they ran a story on the current Conservative arm of our culture. What stood out in the piece was the message, over and over, that true Conservative voices have been lost to the culture war – and after they laid out the points of their argument – they’re right. This simple fact is (to be quite blunt and honest) the most dangerous aspect of our current culture, and for that reason, we are in grave trouble.
Jonah Goldberg recently went on The Daily Show to discuss his new book Suicide of the West and noted that the divide in the country is so deep that the middle has been lost. From the NPR piece noted above, Goldberg explained:
You know, this is how the center doesn’t hold, is when people start [to] sort of, you know, partly out of a understandable sense of frustration, but nonetheless starting to embrace the kind of tribalism that says, there is no unum. There is only pluribus. And that’s a real, real problem.
Goldberg, and so many other conservatives, are pointing to a huge problem in America: the consequences of a culture war that has been won and exploited by one side. Conservative writer John Hawkins explains in detail how the left’s conquering of our cultural landscape has affected the everyday Conservative:
…a Republican guy gets up. And he reads his liberal college newspaper, and he turns on a TV show where he’s insulted. And then he’s, like, ah, jeez. Well, maybe I’ll just unwind and watch, you know, an awards show. Well, it’s the Oscars or something where he gets trashed all day long. This is sort of like a pervasive all-out attack if you’re a conservative, and it’s [an] all the time sort of thing.
It is because of this phenomenon that Trump carried the vote in 2016. He called directly to the group of Conservatives that felt they had been left behind, noting in his acceptance on election night, “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.” In hindsight, we now understand what he was talking about. On election night, and through a few of the more hair raising events of the past year-and-a-half, Liberal bias painted those “men and women” as backwoods, rural, uneducated voters who heard a recycled tag line, and pushed the Electoral College into his favor. However, the reality is that the forgotten men and women are the true Conservative voices that once made up the core of the Republican party. These same voices have not just been pushed out by the Liberal factions of our country, but also by their own peers as the Republican party has been the victim of a fringe group of extreme right wing views that do not fully embrace compromise. And to be fair, the same thing has happened on the left as the Democratic party has been lost to extreme liberal views without care of the moderate voices that demand both liberal and conservative values.
What happens when the word “Conservative” is mentioned is nothing short of a cringe as visions of Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O’Reily come rushing to the forefront of our minds. Alex Jones produces angry eye-rolls. These are the conservative voices that dominate our current climate, with very few level headed Conservative voices are being allowed to seep through.
On the other side of the aisle, Liberal voices like Joy Reid, Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper, and Don Lemon push extreme left wing views without acknowledgement of a middle area where true compromise can be made. They focus on how horrible and stupid Trump is while FoxNews and Sinclair focus on how great he is and how the “media” is tainted against him.
The reality is that we have lost our ability to debate and compromise because we are being told there is no middle anymore. And to that, I call BS.
What both sides need to understand can be broken down into 3 simple points:
- You are not going to get everything you ask for – in fact, you’ll be lucky to get a fraction of what you want. In our current climate, there is so much diversity in our society that there is no possible way that you can easily give every group a lot of what they want. Its impossible. Fight for what you know you can get and what can benefit the largest portion of our culture. Someone somewhere is not going to be able to benefit from what we want, so it comes down to how can we affect change for the largest portion of who will benefit. That’s how Democracy REALLY works.
- It is time to eject the extreme voices that dominate opinion. We have heard complaint after complaint for the past several years that the media is losing itself to ratings. SO QUIT WATCHING. Turn off CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC so we can demand better, more moderate voices that understand compromise means losing sometimes. Our problem is that we have allowed these talking heads to gain power in our conversations, and they are pushing extreme views from both sides. We have to get rid of Maddow and Hannity and find more Tappers and Todds. There is no reason we should have to listen to them any more. Jon Stewart called Tucker Carlson and CNN out several years ago on the old show Crossfire, accusing the show of doing what I mentioned above. It was enough that the show was cancelled shortly afterwards in one of CNN’s few moments of clarity. It didn’t last long. There was also a wonderful meme a few years ago that explains how our media works:
- We have to realize that words like “Conservative” and “Liberal” do not always mean “Christian Fundamental” and “Socialist.” The reality of our culture is that it is dominated in real terms by the moderates. It is not one side verses another side. It is two extremes competing and controlling a dialogue that belongs to a larger group that agrees with portions of both. When Marco Rubio went on CNN for the townhall debate after Parkland, I noticed one thing he did better than his two Democratic colleagues: he tried to explain to the crowd how legislation worked and conceded when he was in the unfavorable opinion of the dominant crowd. While MSNBC, CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post all lambasted Rubio, what I saw was a Senator of the United States who was actually trying to work towards a middle, and giving himself up to criticism so he could reach across and draw closer to the middle. His mistake with the NRA contributions question, unfortunately, destroyed all credible actions he took throughout the night, and it was because the clip was the dominate clip on every left leaning media site and article the next morning. He is on the right, so he must be vilified and made an example of, and he (unfortunately) gave them what they needed to erase the real role he played that night. His colleagues, the two Democrats, did nothing but repeat popular anti-gun tag lines without truly engaging with the crowd. They were simply there as eye candy for an angry, left leaning crowd. We have got to change our views and language about each side and realize that we are dominated by a moderate electorate.
One person in the NPR piece noted above mentioned a possible Civil war. I don’t know if we are truly at that point, but I do know that we have to change they way we think, and we have to change the way we understand each other. We are not all Hannity loving, Maddow worshiping extremists. To be honest, I can’t stand either one of them and would prefer that they both lose their jobs. But as long as eyes are watching, they will keep on talking. They will keep on shaping the discourse, and they will keep on ruining our society. The media is largely to blame, and it is time that the media understood and acted on the power it levies in our lives. It is time for the media to create a new space in the middle and allow all the voices a fair moment.
Because when one side dominates the culture, then it is no longer a culture. It is an autocracy, and right now we live in one – but Trump is not the autocrat.
The extreme right and extreme left are.