As a student of the martial art known as “Guided Chaos,” a contemporary but significantly more sophisticated elaboration of what is better known as “World War II close quarter combatives,” my instructor—a retired Marine Lieutenant-Colonel who, in addition to having participated in numerous combat operations, taught both armed and unarmed combat during his tenure in the service while fighting such agents of evil as the Taliban—repeatedly assures his students that he is doing nothing more or less than teaching them how to “.”
To this end, Master Al, following in the tradition of such famed military geniuses as Sun Tzu, author of and the 17 century samurai warrior, Miyamoto Musashi, is at pains to impress upon his students that striking power is in and of itself insufficient in a fight for one’s life. Just because you have a toolbox, Master Al has said more than once, doesn’t mean that you are a carpenter.
One thing that is essential to victory is what Master Al calls, “.”
To prevail over the enemy, one must not only possess the capability to destroy him, but the to do so.
Bearing this in mind, it should be painfully obvious that Big Conservatives, i.e. those in the so-called mainstream “conservative” media, or “the Big Con,” who are forever imploring the members of their audiences to “fight” the left so as to prevail in the “cultural wars,” or this “second Civil War,” are either dishonest or profoundly inept.
Big Conservatives at least speak as if they conceive of our contemporary politics as war by other means. We that the left sees matters this way. Yet Big Conservatives, though they possess the ability—the resources in money and influence—to fight the left, their will for doing so is sorely lacking.
Anyone with any doubts about this should simply engage in the following thought-experiment.
Imagine that an alien from another planet, an alien, say, who knew nothing more than what “conservatives” and “liberals” to believe, came to Earth. It’s inarguable that upon canvassing the scene for just the shortest periods of time, he would arrive at one of the following two conclusions:
(1)Self-identified conservatives cannot possibly believe what they claim to believe. The reason for this is quite simple: Between their talk—rhetoric regarding limited or Constitutional government; the sanctity of life; personal responsibility; equality before the law; equality of (as opposed to ); individual liberty; traditional marriage; revering the Founders, etc.—and their walk—the policies that they’ve either explicitly endorsed or permitted to be enacted—there lay an unbridgeable chasm.
(2)Second, self-identified conservatives are utterly ineffectual when it comes to arresting the advances of the left.
How could our alien draw any other inference? Lip service to the Constitution notwithstanding, both Republican or “conservative” Presidents and Congresses, no less than their Democratic or “progressive” counterparts, have betrayed—repeatedly and dramatically betrayed—the vision of United States that the men who ratified it originally intended for the Constitution to embody.
Consequently, given that the federal government has been divested of its federal character and made into precisely the sort of national behemoth that the Founders dreaded, the Constitution is, today, all but a dead letter, murdered by leftist ideologues, yes, but by self-avowed “conservatives” too.
Whether it is the income tax, fiat money, socialized medicine and health care (Medicare, Medicaid, etc.), or any number of the legions of government-subsidized agencies, programs and sectors that exist, Big Conservatives are as responsible as their ostensible opponents for, if not always necessarily the creation, then at least the preservation and expansion of these.
“Conservative” politicians, by way of the power with which their offices have endowed them, have directly subverted the Constitutional design, but the scribblers and chatterers in Big Conservatism have aided and abetted them at every turn.
So-called “affirmative action,” race and gender-based preferential treatment policies favoring non-white minorities and women over whites and white men, are endemic, and filicide in the womb (“abortion”) has been the law of the land since 1973. Big Conservatives have indeed voiced their objection to such things, but their resistance has been about as timid and effective as their resistance to “same-sex marriage” became after a handful of lawyers on the Supreme Court “discovered” that homosexuals have a right to marry one another.
This is to say, Big Conservatives have done nothing more than proclaim their opposition to these things. But even here, they articulate their positions only and always . For example, “affirmative action” is wrong because it is “racist” and “sexist,” but toward the qualified whites, Asians, and men who are discriminated against in favor of less qualified non-whites and women, but toward the underqualified blacks and women who are its intended beneficiaries. Or Big Conservatives will object to filicide, but not, ultimately, because it consists in the destruction of an innocent human being in its mother’s womb, but because it irrevocably traumatizes the mother who kills her child, or because, insofar as black babies are disproportionately aborted, it is “racist.”
Big Conservatives not only stopped objecting to “same-sex marriage” as soon as the Supreme Court issued its ruling. They say remarkably little about such implications of trans-genderism as the abolition, in some quarters, of gender-exclusive bathrooms. As one popular blogger recently said, it’s laughable to think that conservatives can conserve Western Civilization; they can’t even conserve something as rudimentary as the ladies’ room.
We could continue endlessly. To be sure, it is a good thing that Big Conservatives call attention to some of the outrages of the left. But while talk is necessary, it is far, far from sufficient. Big Conservatism is an oasis of resources in money and influence. Rush Limbaugh alone is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and he reaches approximately 20 million Americans each week. If we really are in the throes of a “second Civil War,” then it is imperative that talk radio hosts, Fox News commentators, and the writers for “conservative” journals appropriate these resources so as to genuinely fight, rather than incessantly whine over the partiality of their enemies to !
And make no mistakes about it, whenever conservative media personalities identify the “double standards” of the left, all that they are doing is crying about the fact that those who they have declared their enemies are supporting while taking advantage of every opportunity to undermine and defeat enemies: conservatives.
As long as they insist upon using “the Civil War” as their model, Big Conservatives need only bear in mind that neither the Union nor the Confederacy would have so much as dreamt that complaining about the other side’s partiality toward itself was either a tactic or a strategy to victory. Similarly, Big Conservatives are not anyone when they do nothing more than whine and cry about the left’s “double standards.”
Alternatively, since Big Conservatives purport to revere the Founders, they should ask themselves why George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, James Madison, and the other members of the Founding generation—you know, those men who sacrificed their very lives to fight, truly fight, the largest empire in the world at that time—didn’t just content themselves to wax indignant over the hypocrisies and double standards of King George.
The resources of Big Conservatism could almost effortlessly be gathered to organize massive rallies and demonstrations of Americans who have long since crossed their threshold of tolerance for the anti-American predations of the left. If the commentators of the Big Con wished, they could collaborate with one another to engineer boycotts of anti-American corporations and products, and, importantly, work on constructing technological, educational, and entertainment alternatives to the forces that wish to marginalize, malign, and silence them.
There is a final thought. That Big Conservatives aren’t interested in doing what it takes to defeat the left can be gotten readily enough by their unequivocal refusal to so much as hint at just the possibility that conservatives may have to use in defense of themselves (to say nothing of the defense of others who fall victim to the left).
Doubtless, violence is ugly and should be used only when necessary. But not only is there nothing intrinsically immoral about violence; it is a moral good when it is the means by which the prey becomes the predator and the predator the prey.
Violence is or would be a moral good if and when an unassuming Trump supporter—an elderly man, say, a slender woman, or a teenage boy—knocked the lights out of a bike lock and chain-wielding Antifa or Black Lives Matter thug who was determined to assault a “Nazi” or “white supremacist.”
That leftist street punks, with the help of leftist media types and Democratic politicians, have been intimidating, threatening, suppressing, and, what is most alarming, physically on those who they perceive as conservatives is a well-known open secret. These victims, in the vast majority of instances, are those who make it possible for Big Conservatives to exist, for they constitute their audience(s). This being said, it’s beyond irresponsible that Big Conservatives, ever-fearful of saying or doing anything that could lend credence to the left’s charges against them, won’t so much as call for their constituents to protect themselves.
Leftists have succeeded in mainstreaming violence against their political opponents. Big Conservatives, who effortlessly raise small fortunes for charitable causes and sponsors and who organize cruises, speaking events, trips to Israel, and book signings, could utilize their resources to promote training, of both the armed and unarmed varieties, for those in their audiences. Just as Glenn Beck managed to hold a huge Tea Party rally in D.C. some years ago, so too could today’s Big Conservatives assemble equally huge street protests. Only in the latter case(s), the mood would or should be one of righteous indignation as “Deplorables” from around the country gathered together to denounce the unprovoked political violence of the left while putting their opponents on notice that, from this point forward, any such violence against peaceful conservatives would be met with swift, unrelenting violence in response.
The left bullies and pummels upon the right as much as it does because Big Con radio and cable news hosts may derive a sense of self-satisfaction whenever they pat themselves on their collective shoulder for categorically refusing, on behalf of all conservatives, to exercise their right to self-defense when attacked by leftist thugs. But unless one is a pacifist—which, given their readiness to send young Americans off to wars in foreign lands, none of these Big Conservatives seems to be—this is nothing of which to be proud. And it is certainly not the path to victory in this “second Civil War” that Big Conservatives insist we are engaged.
The “ruthless intention” to which Master Al speaks is a matter of being in it to win it, so to speak. Big Conservatives, inasmuch as they do nothing but essentially whine that the left dislikes them and favors itself by way of its “double standards”—all of the while accusing of being the snowflakes—give no indication that they are interested in doing anything other than enriching themselves.
Big Conservatism has the ability to genuinely fight the left. It lacks the will.
Thus, the left will continue to win the war as long as it is the only side that is intent upon fighting.
Jack Kerwick [send him mail] received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture.