I’m occasionally asked to speak in group settings and the number one question I get from conservative audiences is some variation of, “How do we influence the culture when it seems like it’s already too late?”.
My answer is always, “Stop raising politicians”.
Somehow along the way in this country conservatives decided their greatest victories should and would happen at the legislative level. Their distaste for the direction of American pop culture led to their withdrawal from it. That left a lot open space in the culture battlefield and liberals rushed in to fill it.
Unsurprisingly, it turns out that most Americans find policy dry and boring and pay no attention to it. So while conservatives were fighting and discussing policy, everyone else was having a good old time enjoying the fruits of a prosperous society. The arts and technology fields became flooded with liberal creators.
And that brings us to today.
We don’t need one more political commentator. We don’t need one more “public face” of the conservative movement. We don’t need another panel show of conservatives on a conservative network talking about conservative topics. Those things have their place, but they do nothing to advance the culture wars.
If you go to CPAC, you’ll see hundreds of young people walking around in suits and ties, or heels that are far to “old” for their age. They’re carrying flags and proudly representing as “conservative” youth. It is nice to see and we laud those young adults because we love to see young people getting involved in politics. But most of these kids want to go into politics. Most of them desire to become the next Ben Shapiro or work at a fancy D.C. think tank or somewhere on Capitol Hill. Their parents typically whole-heartedly support that and have encouraged that. I know many conservative parents who push for their children to become government influencers or worse…lawyers.
But we don’t need any more of those people. That isn’t where the real battle lies. Politics is downstream of culture – as cliche as that has become it is still true.
Recently, Redstate contributor Brandon Morse reported on the case of an anti-SJW vlogger who had his account suddenly suspended by Google without explanation. Carl Benjamin is just one case in long line of conservative/anti-liberal outlets and vloggers who have had their content removed or channels demonetized because of their political ideology.
Morse points out that this is not just a phenomenon in “political entertainment”. Google employee James Damore lost his job for simply pointing out that a lack of females in STEM careers is more biologically motivated than a result of bigotry. Clinical psychologist and professor Jordan B. Peterson had his YouTube channel suspended for “violating terms of service” after he refused to let his students choose their own gender pronouns for themselves in his classroom.
The list goes on and on.
As Morse so deftly points out, the platforms for our ideas have become almost as important as the ideas themselves. While we’ve been raising politicians and policy wonks, the left has been raising programmers and technology geeks. Now those people own the very technology that has changed our society the most, and we are just depending on their good will to be allowed to speak on those platforms.
The balance of conservative to liberal Americans hasn’t changed much over the years. It remains about 50/50 with small percentage shifts year to year. However, in culture-dominant industries like tech and entertainment that balance is drastically skewed to the left as James Damore pointed out.
We talk a lot about conservatives rejoining the arts scene to affect entertainment, but it’s deeper than that. If we want to have a voice in our culture, we need to be a part of the platforms that air those voices. If your conservative kids are excited about gaming or coding or other technological areas, encourage that. Foster those interests. Send them to coding camp. Don’t turn up your nose at their video gaming. Did you know that gaming is actually a lucrative “sport” these days? There are young people who have bigtime sponsors like Red Bull and Nike who get paid to travel the world to gaming competitions. Many of these video games are story based, and often the stories involve liberal principles and ideas.
You can’t end the gaming industry or your child’s interest in it, but you can encourage a shift in that culture. Let the kids play! Let them invent. Play with them or watch them so you can see for yourself the good and the bad of it all.
As it stands now, the people with the power to shut down our voices at places like Google and Facebook are largely millennial liberals who moved directly from the insulation of a progressive college campus to the insulation of a progressive technological campus often housed inside the bubble of a progressive large city. They don’t shut down people like Benjamin because they’re evil despots rubbing their hands together with glee at the thought of ending the First Amendment. They do it because to them he is abnormal. They feel they are justified. They feel they are doing the right thing, the good thing.
It’s a culture, not a grand plot. The only way to change that culture is to flood it with a counter culture.
If we want to preserve the avenues for conservative voices to reach the mainstream then we have to be more proactive in filling those jobs that serve the mainstream. It is great to encourage your children to be independent thinkers who share conservative values, but don’t get stuck there.
As I am writing this post, I just saw a newsflash come across my screen saying that Prager University is suing YouTube for suspending their channel and deleting their content.
Imagine how different this whole conversation would be if YouTube’s staff reflected the statistical ideological split of the general American public?
We don’t need more Tomi Lahrens. We DO need more James Damores, so parent accordingly.