As the Obama supporters routinely take pleasure in telling us, we lost. As I survey the political landscape, I’m afraid that the election of 2012 signals that we lost more than just an election, we have lost the cultural battle that has been raging in America for the past 50 years.
Politics follow culture. The political will of an electorate is only the representation of the will of the dominant culture of the period – and that is what the left in America has understood during their long march through the institutions of our country (via Dutschke, Gramsci and the Frankfurt School of Cultural Marxism). While conservatives were fighting tactical skirmishes, the left was playing the long game, patiently waiting for the time when the culture that they were creating overwhelmed the political world.
Stepping back to look at the reasons that Obama and the Democrats won at the national level, it is hard to really determine why, to pinpoint one single reason or theme. Their message was weak (not that we did a hell of a lot better), we have had four years of disastrous economic results and we are at the point of bankrupting the nation with all the misguided spending and government expansion. Regardless if you believe that Bush caused all of this, and for the record, in my opinion the second Bush term was almost indistinguishable from Obama’s first, rational people elect presidents and national level politicians to do one of two things – to continue policies that are working or to fix those that are broken.
Obama has clearly failed at the latter but he was re-elected anyway.
The only thing that he could run on was a logical fallacy called an argument from authority (and its variant, argument from false authority). This is simply making the claim that the speaker is an expert, and so should be trusted, but since there are actually degrees and areas of expertise, the speaker is actually claiming to be more expert, in the relevant subject area, than anyone else in the room. There is also an implied claim that expertise in the area is worth having. Democrats routinely make this argument when they dismiss out of hand anything that doesn’t align with their ideology as crazy, stupid or worthless. It is also evident when they just say things like “Solyndra isn’t a scandal” or “Benghazi isn’t important” and they don’t give factual reasons to support their position.
The typical defense of an argument from authority is deflection, refusing to talk about a scandal because I say that it isn’t one, dismissing something out of hand because I think it isn’t important or refusing to address failures by falsely invoking a non sequitur, the most used one of these is a charge of racism – thereby making your argument illegitimate for no other reason than I’m the expert, so I get to make those determinations.
It strikes me as this is the one thing that Republicans lightly attacked and when they did, they were ineffective because they weren’t aggressive or adamant enough. Arguments from authority can be defeated in only one way; the presumption of authority has to be proven illegitimate and the way that is done is to aggressively force these arguments to a conclusion and in reaching that conclusion prove that the authority isn’t really an authority at all.
But in the end the argument from authority did work and Obama did get re-elected. I’ll be the first one to admit that I was stunned…dumbfounded. That one puzzled me to no end until I considered the cultural angle.
It worked because we have cultivated a culture that is comfortable with the “beta” approach to authority. When people are not strong enough in their core values to question authority on an individual level, they assume authority where there is none. For decades we have lived in a society that has taught our children that no matter what they do, everybody gets to play, everybody gets a trophy and everybody goes to college. We have created segments of society who are advanced by the color of their skin over performance and supported racism as long as the purveyor is a minority. We have been forced to accept certain cultural aspects that we have convictions against and are told that we are bigots and discriminatory if we believe in American exceptionalism.
We now have a bland, nobody is better than anybody else, don’t stand out culture that expects to present themselves to American society at large and say, “Here I am, I did what you told me, now do something with me”, thereby abdicating any personal responsibility for their own futures, waiting for an “sovereign” to direct them where to go and what to do. This sovereign is now supposed to be responsible for them and their futures as they have had the individualism conditioned out of them.
We have created the Leviathan as foreseen by Thomas Hobbes.
This is a society free of objectivity, and one that is ripe for a “sovereign” to be respected and followed simply because these folks are looking for an “authority” to guide them and tell them what to do, they are the modern Hobbesians…and there are a lot of them.
When we look at the last Gallup poll on party affiliation, there is something that jumps out. When people were asked if they identified themselves as Republicans, Independents or Democrats, the numbers looked like this: R-27, I-38, D-32 but when they were asked which way they “leaned”, the numbers changed dramatically to: R-39, D-50, which means that there really were really only 11% (not 38%) who were true Independents. Obama could lose over 90% of the actual “Independents” and still win a narrow election, which he did, getting almost 7 million fewer votes than he did in 2008 while Romney actually improved by 500K over McCain’s 2008 total.
It means that the “Independent” vote is not the panacea for Republican victory because the coalition of Democrats and Democrat “leaning” Independents is already too large to overcome at a national level – and they are concentrated in key counties in key, high value “swing states”. There seems to be a large percentage of Americans who either voted to continue the path to a “sovereign” rather than self-rule. It must also be noted that there are a significant number of people who didn’t vote, indicating that there are even more in the country comfortable with authoritarian rule.
Given that we have had “soft” Republicans in the fold at one time or the other like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Scott Brown, and Lincoln Chaffee – and in non-military matters, McCain and Lindsey Graham, it is clear that classical liberals are substantially in the minority as the “Hobbesians” are on the rise. I would wager to say that we are well in the minority as these “Hobbesians” likely make up two thirds of not only the electorate but the non-voting population as well.
That is a result of culture. Leviathan is rising.
If this proves true, it will take at least as long to swing the culture in a different direction – which means we are in for about 50 years of insurgency as we push the country away from Hobbes and back toward Locke, the Founding Fathers and classical liberalism.