Lincoln in 1857, “On the Republican Party:”
Upon those men who are, in sentiment, opposed to the spread, and nationalization of slavery, rests the task of preventing it. The Republican organization is the embodiment of that sentiment; though, as yet, it by no means embraces all the individuals holding that sentiment. The party is newly formed; and in forming, old party ties had to be broken, and the attractions of party pride, and influential leaders were wholly wanting. In spite of old differences, prejudices, and animosities, it’s [sic] members were drawn together by a paramount common danger. They formed and maneuvered in the face of the deciplined [sic] enemy, and in the teeth of all his persistent misrepresentations. Of course, they fell far short of gathering in all of their own. And yet, a year ago, they stood up, an army over thirteen hundred thousand strong. That army is, to-day, the best hope of the nation, and of the world. Their work is before them; and from which they may not guiltlessly turn away.
1. Over at Real Clear Politics, Jay Cost argues this election isn’t a “realignment” because there wasn’t an issue (slavery, the gold standard, the welfare state) that transformed the electoral landscape.
I don’t think “realignment” is the right term for what we’ve witnessed. My own thought is that the culture wars being so one-sided resulted in what we saw this election, and more importantly, the tantrum from the eventual victor that existed for 8 years before. There really are two Americas: modern, secular, progressive-radical America is not an aberration that took over some professorships in the 60’s and founded an ice cream company or two later. The elites have succeeded in creating far more like them in values, if not ability. What they want is for this country to embrace European social democracy.
What we have seen is the emergence of a voting bloc that is not partial to conservatism at all. The Democratic party doesn’t need to cater to the South or fiscal conservatism in any way anymore. Everyone knew – or should have known – that then Senator Obama’s numbers regarding his plans were a bit fuzzy. I say “emergence” because these voters are not at the peak of their power yet: more time will inevitably result in gains for them, as near complete control of the educational system is theirs.
2. Perhaps the reason why this isn’t a “realignment,” though, is because of the incredible amount on the line with issues such as slavery, industry and government relief in a Depression. Not just necessity but the question of “what is justice” were being considered at those times. Each “realignment,” quite obviously, reduced to the issue of equality – what is just is sharing freedom, opportunity or wealth as opposed to aggrandizement by one or the other party.
Right now, while the Left preaches social justice, we know the incredible materialism that underlies these claims. “Social justice” isn’t justice – all of us know this. It’s an attempt to overturn more established values for the sake of greater comforts by uniting some of the discontented. To some degree, this is acceptable – we can do things that are seemingly harmless, so why not? But the greatest comfort is feeling good about being moral, and “social justice” allows for people to have this feeling without actually being moral. All you need to do is blame everyone else for everything. The dangers are sequential – a politics dominated by (messianic) celebrity, complete with the rule of gossip over policy; the emergence of conspiracy theory and paranoia as mass movements; finally, overt violence against others based on perception. There are certain European nations that may be the prime example of degenerate politics (they also might not be: this is not as obvious a sort of judgment as it seems): they seem to think they’re better than everyone else even though they can’t defend their own leaders or citizens; they can’t even prevent the rise of actual fascists among themselves, despite calling everyone they disagree with a fascist.
3. The moral issue we face is very large, but not as large as the quite obvious and unacceptable attempt to spread slavery. I think, at best, we’re flirting with the first stage of degeneracy, and not even that. Only the mainstream media and a few loud, obnoxious idiots think Obama is the Messiah. But it’s dangerous because of what it means for the office of the Presidency, not because there was dancing in the streets election night. People have the right to celebrate what they think is progress, and certainly, this election was unthinkable 50 years ago. We can all celebrate the more fundamental progress that allowed it to happen.
The work that needs to be done is still that of unity: Lincoln’s first evaluation of the Republicans is the correct one. To that end, whining about social conservatives (see here) being a detriment to the party is babyish and stupid. I am not going to tell people who are disproportionately fighting for our freedom – 40% of the Armed Forces says they are evangelical, but knowing evangelicals, that number is undoubtedly higher – that they can take a hike. They actually value something more than their own wallets or security or winning elections – imagine that.
Moreover, continuing Bush-bashing, as is being done here, is even dumber. The pundit class – Brooks, Frum, Goldberg, O’Rourke and many others – is very problematic right now, but that’s because they never believed in education. They hold that conservatism is obvious, as if a change in media alone will make people wake up. Education serves media for them, not the other way around: “Liberal Fascism” was written so you would approach the news better.
To me, we have the conservative/alternative media we need already. Changing minds is going to take time, but we need to start in earnest, not just to win. We can reasonably expect a lot from partisanship, after all: once upon a time, it helped destroy slavery.