Political Elections, Cultural Elections, And The Votes That Really Matter
2008 Selwyn Duke
To be honest, treating politics isn’t my favorite pastime. Sure, like other commentators I do it, but it’s not something I can truly sink my teeth into. I’ll explain why momentarily.
This election season, my pen has directed many slings and arrows Barack Obama’s way. I criticized John McCain, too, but that was during the primaries. Now there is what I perceive to be a clear and present danger in the person of a slick demagogue, so my sights – and my site – are trained in one particular direction. Because of this, however, I sometimes receive emails from disenchanted rightist voters. “What do you have to say about McCain?” some ask. “How is he any better than Obama?”
My feelings toward such respondents vacillate between surliness and sympathy. I understand why they feel the way they do, but they don’t understand me. I’m neither a party man nor a doctrinarian. I’m probably at least as dissatisfied with our wanting candidates as those who write me, and I can sum up my reasoning very simply:
Both candidates deserve to lose.
Only, one deserves to lose more.
But there is something else I know. Candidates are reflections, and insofar as they are lacking, they’re symptoms. If you behave as if they are visited upon us by a supernatural hand or secret conspiracy, you’re fooling yourself. An election is simply a choice of exit ramps after a 500-mile leg of the never-ending journey on the eternal highway. You can exit right, you can exit left, but make no mistake, your only decision at that point concerns where to place the power in the locale to which your wheels have taken you. Sure, the hearts of some haven’t driven the leg, staying behind in their Model T; those of others have driven ahead in their Model Z. Then there are those with hearts driving the model Eternity, those rare timeless travelers. Regardless, many of these people want to choose a barely-traveled path that, while it may boast beautiful scenery, can never lead to the throne. Where they wish to reside is just too far from where the bus of civilization has parked.
Some understand this, some don’t. Our culture is light years from the vision I consider ideal. Some of you may feel like a foreigner in your own land, but I could feel like I’m on the wrong planet. Figuratively speaking, the journey I wish to take requires the aid of Captain Kirk; it may even require time travel. I’m not even a conservative, as that is a person who, generally speaking, is content with the status quo. I want to overthrow it. I’m a revolutionary.
This brings us to the point. Revolutions aren’t won or even initiated through elections; they are either launched militarily (which isn’t easy with a government that possesses sound-wave weapons and blinding lasers), or culturally. This is the point. “People get the government they deserve,” as Thomas Jefferson said, because, one way or another, leaders will be a reflection of the people. Thus, if you want better choices come election time, the people need to be transformed.
That is the battle that matters, and it’s one the left understands well. They have long steered that bus with their Gramscian drivers and navigated with their Gramscian maps, with their control of academia, the media, Hollywood, popular culture, the Democrat Party, and enough influential activist groups to wear out gavels in every courtroom in the land. And, then, when voters find themselves on a desolate stretch of highway gazing at monochrome scenery below gray skies, some wonder, or lament, or both. “How is it we only have these two inauspicious exits?” they complain. They write to people like me and ask, “How come you don’t condemn the right exit as much as the left?” as if not exiting is even an option, as if picking up your ball and going home will somehow make home better.
But my answer is simple. As per my metaphor, I understand that more than a referendum on where we are to go, an election is one on where we’ve been. It is but a link in a chain, one of a series of turns, and my only task is – just as it was all along – to try to turn that bus in the best possible direction at the given moment.
In other words, write me to commiserate if you must, but understand the silliness of asking me why I fight for right turns now as I always have. For if you do that, you are compartmentalizing politics, incorrectly viewing it as a realm that operates separately from the culture. It is not. It is a reflection of it, and its elections are thus only one of many related kinds in which we vote. We elect our entertainers and entertainment, media figures and news and commentary through what we watch, listen to and read. We elect our educators by what we tolerate in our local schools and what colleges we support with our money. And we elect our activist groups and religious leaders by whom we choose to donate money to and what events and houses of worship we attend. So, while many may view our November choice as a discreet event, it really is just another in a series of elections (albeit a big one), one whose players were, in a very real way, chosen through those other elections. Thus, here is my perspective: My duty in all these elections is to make the best choice available to me at the moment. If those choices are lacking, don’t ask me why I wish to make lemonade out of lemons; I didn’t choose the route. Ask yourself what the people did – or failed to do – that brought us to this desert.
Transitioning to the literal, let us discuss what this means. We can curse the darkness as we note that both major party candidates support amnesty for illegals, but who really is culpable? McCain and Obama? Sure, all people must be held accountable, but they are only two men. Do you think they could hold that view and have ascended politically in a thoroughly patriotic nation? No, they can only bloom in a substrate degraded with multiculturalism, anti-Americanism, and the moral relativism that blinds one to cultural dangers. And many are thus imbued because of brainwashing by the media, academia and other entities. Why? Because of all those cultural elections we lost throughout the decades.
Then there is the specter of socialized medicine. We may dodge it in this election, but the writing is on the wall. There was a time when no one – Republican or Democrat – even contemplated such a thing; now its necessity has become Democrat dogma and Republicans are starting to accept it as well. Mitt Romney – a Republican favorite early in the primaries and a future presidential hopeful – instituted socialized medicine when governor of Massachusetts. And this is no anomaly, as a poll earlier this year showed that 52 percent of Republicans supported the principle of forcing Americans to buy health insurance.
Thus, we would have to be blind to not know where the bus is heading. Just as with amnesty, there will soon come a political election in which the 52 percent has become 67, and both candidates “see the wisdom” in government health care. But what lost elections will have brought us to that point?
Perhaps a famous apocryphal quotation may be instructive:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.
This is true, but I must add some nuance. In the case of people of a moral fiber sufficient to sustain a democracy, degradation of that fiber is a prerequisite for the above. Their virtues of self-sufficiency, kindness and generosity must be allowed to wither and be replaced with the vices of a spirit of entitlement, envy and greed. Their grit must be turned to talcum as they are made to believe life should be easy and, if it isn’t, someone is obligated to make it so. Then they will be content to rob Peter to pay Paul – as long as they’re Paul.
So what are the lost cultural elections here? Again, the academics who teach America’s young don’t help. But most of all, when we choose how to raise our children, we also vote. We choose what standards to enforce, and when too many of us kowtow to kids’ whimsy, fail to hold them accountable and over-indulge them, we shouldn’t expect that, upon maturity, they will vote for a civil government any different than the family government that coddled and spoiled them during formative years.
Many of us could provide countless other examples, but need more be said? The people are the vessel and politicians the water, and the latter just take the shape of the former. So, yes, it’s easy enough to criticize any of our candidates, for if you look for the worst in politicians, you’re sure to find it . . . in abundance. But what are we lamenting really? That John McCain is like so many other older men in that, to quote a comedic quip, wisdom didn’t come with age – age just showed up all by itself? That Barack Obama, like so many other black men, was weaned on a diet of pulpit-projected bigotry and Saul Alinsky socialist politics and mistakes foolishness for wisdom? That “conservative” Sarah Palin created a new sub-cabinet in Alaska to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions? That they are all just creatures of the age? What did you expect? We define the age, and they reflect us.
Of course, we could still believe the political is divorced from the cultural, that our current big and bigger-government choices are some isolated political accident. We could, as some did in 2000 and 2004, believe that we will find our shining-city-on-a-hill savior four years hence.
That is, unless we could somehow, some way start winning those cultural elections. To believe otherwise is to be blind to the itinerary of that bus.
So don’t ask me why I won’t level criticism based on quota; don’t ask me to be blind to distinctions between dank, dark, miasma-ridden locales. I know our lost cultural elections have placed us on a highway that bends steadily toward the left, but in the upcoming political election – this referendum on our culture – we will choose the right or left exit. And don’t tell me that neither exit is worth taking, because, well, that I know also.
But one of them is not worth taking more.
Duke is a writer, columnist and public speaker whose work has been
published widely online and in print, on both the local and national
levels. He has been featured on the Rush Limbaugh Show and has been a
regular guest on the award-winning Michael Savage Show. His work
has appeared in Pat Buchanan's magazine The American Conservative and he
writes regularly for The New American and Christian Music Perspective.