Well…many thanks to National Review‘s Jim Geraghty for posting a link to my depressing rant “The Death Of A Thousand Cuts” in both National Review‘s Campaign Spot blog and in the pole position for his Morning Jolt newsletter. That was a nice, umm, jolt to my morning routine.
In a very welcome pep talk, Geraghty rightly points out that it’s easy to miss the positive things in the avalanche of bad news. He lists, for example, a slew of conservative writers and bloggers that would have been unthinkable when William F. Buckley was starting his magazine. He lists Adele as a pop singer who sings mature songs in an old-fashioned style that borrows from Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald. He even mentions a movie about Navy SEALS that stars actual Navy SEALS…and just how cool is that? When the man’s right, he’s right. I alluded to all of this in the last paragraph of my piece when I conceded that there is still much good to be found out there. Nevertheless, the depression comes from the fact that we have to look for the good, while the negative bombards us on a daily basis. I doubt Jim Geraghty would disagree that “the worst are full of passionate intensity” (as Yeats said).
He addresses this in a Campaign Spot post about this issue, mentioning that it’s something Jonah Goldberg has also discussed: in the realm of politics, conservatives and libertarians are more likely to shut off the lights and go home to their families when the day is done, where for progressives and liberals politics is a holy calling. I think this is largely true. Yet it is also sad.
I’m not suggesting that conservatives should treat government and politics as a mission from God (as The Blues Brothers said). Conservatives understand that politics is important, but is only part of the fabric of life. But we conservatives also need to understand that progressive politics and liberal (or is it libertine?) culture are ripping apart the fabric of our lives. The tax code has made a one-income family almost impossible, leaving latch-key kids in its wake; no-fault divorce laws have made leaving your spouse after an argument an easy reality; our children are listening to Adele, but also to Chris Brown, M.I.A., and a million other noisome vulgarians; one click of the mouse can expose you and your children to a world of things that are definitely not ready for prime time. In his pep talk, Geraghty is right to point out the advances conservatives have made, but his exceptions prove the rule: it’s the Left’s culture, and it would behoove conservatives to remember that while politics should never be the main focus of a healthy society, we face an implacable foe that works while we picnic, that seeks to subvert the will of the people while we attend Little League games.
The conservative philosophy rightly stresses the idea that government should not be all that important to our daily lives. But progressivism, which holds the opposite philosophy, never sleeps, and is always watching for weakness. Kind of like the eye of Sauron.
We should take cheer in the advances we’ve made. The internet has given conservatives, like myself, a platform on which to speak. Fox News has landed a serious blow to the monopoly of liberal news on television. A well-made, well-written, intelligent show like Downton Abbey is the talk around the water coolers, while almost no one talks about Survivor anymore. Most recently, the Washington Free Beacon is taking on the Left at their own game. But while we should acknowledge and take cheer in our progress, we should also be cognizant of the fact that progressivism may be wounded, but nothing is more dangerous than a wounded animal (as Captain Kirk said).So as Brother Geraghty wisely counsels, take cheer, my fellow conservatives. Against overwhelming odds we are putting points on the board. But as the game is far from over, be ready to fight, fight, fight (as Knute Rockne said).