Maybe mi­nori­ties’ val­ues need chang­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Den­nis Prager

The most widely of­fered ex­pla­na­tion for Mitt Rom­ney’s de­feat is that the Repub­li­can Party is dis­pro­por­tion­ately com­posed of — ag­ing — white males. That is, alas, true. But the real ques­tion is what Republicans should do with this truth. There are two re­sponses. The nearly univer­sal re­sponse — mean­ing the re­sponse of­fered by the lib­eral me­dia and lib­eral aca­demics (and some Republicans) — is that the Repub­li­can Party needs to re­think its po­si­tions, mov­ing away from con­ser­vatism and to­ward the po­lit­i­cal cen­ter.

The other re­sponse is for con­ser­va­tives and the Repub­li­can Party to em­bark on a mas­sive cam­paign to influence, and ul­ti­mately change, the val­ues of those groups that voted Demo­crat.

The Demo­cratic Party, and the left gen­er­ally, have done a mag­nif­i­cent job in iden­ti­fy­ing con­ser­va­tive val­ues as white male val­ues. One rea­son for their suc­cess is that they dom­i­nate vir­tu­ally ev­ery lever of influence — the high schools and uni­ver­si­ties, tele­vi­sion, news­pa­pers, movies, pop cul­ture and ev­ery­thing else ex­cept talk ra­dio. An­other is that they re­ally be­lieve that con­ser­va­tive val­ues are noth­ing more than white male — es­pe­cially ag­ing white male — val­ues. Re­mem­ber, left­ism has its own trin­ity — the prism through which it per­ceives the world — race, gen­der and class. In this case the race is white; the gen­der is male; and the class is rich.

As a re­sult of this iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, there is no de­bate over whether the mi­nori­ties’ (and sin­gle women’s) val­ues are cor­rect or whether the val­ues of the white males are cor­rect. The left has suc­cess­fully fore­stalled any such na­tional dis­cus­sion by sim­ply re­duc­ing con­ser­va­tive val­ues to the dy­ing ful­mi­na­tions of a for­mer rul­ing class.

In the words of New York Times colum­nist Maureen Dowd, “Mitt Rom­ney is the pres­i­dent of white male Amer­ica.”

This iden­ti­fi­ca­tion seems to be work­ing. But it’s in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­hon­est. Ag­ing white males are as im­por­tant to the left as they are to the right.

In a re­cent is­sue of the New York Re­view of Books, lib­eral Har­vard pro­fes­sor Ben­jamin M. Fried­man strongly crit­i­cized the Tea Party. Af­ter cit­ing “sur­veys show­ing that Tea Party mem­bers are ‘pre­dom­i­nantly white, male, older, more col­lege-ed­u­cated and bet­ter off eco­nom­i­cally than typ­i­cal Amer­i­cans,’ ” he noted par­en­thet­i­cally “they sound like, say, read­ers of The New York Re­view of Books.”

Come to think of it, these peo­ple who make up the tea party also sound like the peo­ple who at­tend clas­si­cal mu­sic con­certs, who en­dow concert halls, mu­se­ums, hos­pi­tals, and uni­ver­si­ties, and fund left-wing causes (Ge­orge Soros, for ex­am­ple).

Per­haps when this gen­er­a­tion of ag­ing white males dies off, ag­ing women, ag­ing Latino and black males, and young peo­ple will be­come the read­ers of jour­nals such as the New York Re­view of Books and en­dow sym­phony orchestras.

I sus­pect not. And if not, the left may come to re­gret its con­tempt for this par­tic­u­lar group. With­out ag­ing white males, I doubt the New York Times would sur­vive. How many young peo­ple, fe­males, His­pan­ics and blacks subscribe to the New York Times?

Ob­vi­ously the is­sue for the left isn’t ag­ing white males, it is con­ser­va­tives, whether they are young or old, white or non­white, male or fe­male. If fe­male abo­rig­ines were con­ser­va­tive, the left would have a prob­lem with fe­male abo­rig­ines.

For con­ser­va­tives, the is­sue is that for gen­er­a­tions now, they have failed to make the case for their val­ues. They haven’t even con­veyed con­ser­va­tive val­ues to many of their chil­dren. And when they have, the univer­sity has of­ten suc­ceeded in undoing them.

The only an­swer to the “de­mo­graphic” prob­lem, there­fore, is to bring women (sin­gle women, to be pre­cise), young peo­ple, His­pan­ics, and blacks to con­ser­va­tive val­ues. I wrote a col­umn in Septem­ber (“It’s not Just the Econ­omy, Stupid!”) crit­i­ciz­ing the Mitt Rom­ney cam­paign for only talk­ing about jobs and the econ­omy. Pres­i­dent Obama kept say­ing that this elec­tion was about two dif­fer­ent vi­sions of Amer­ica. But like Ge­orge Her­bert Walker Bush, the Rom­ney cam­paign ap­peared to dis­dain “the vi­sion thing.”

Our only hope for Amer­ica is that ev­ery con­ser­va­tive takes upon him or her­self the project of learn­ing what Amer­i­can and con­ser­va­tive val­ues are, com­ing to un­der­stand what left­ism stands for, and learn­ing how to make the case for those val­ues to women, young peo­ple, blacks and His­pan­ics. That is what my ra­dio show, lat­est book and Prager Univer­sity are about. And while I am, hap­pily, hardly alone, there are still far too few of us who un­der­stand “the vi­sion thing.” Surely the Repub­li­can es­tab­lish­ment has not.

We should mis­sion­ize for the Amer­i­can Trin­ity (Lib­erty, In God We Trust, E Pluribus Unum) as least as pas­sion­ately as the left has mis­sion­ized for its an­tithe­sis — Egal­i­tar­i­an­ism, Sec­u­lar­ism and Mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism. Or we will lose Amer­ica as we have al­ways known it. Den­nis Prager is the au­thor of “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs Amer­i­can Val­ues to Tri­umph”.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.