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You’re a conservative, you’re not a conservative

The future conservative base, supposedly.
The future conservative base, supposedly.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

It’s often been said that liberals always win and conservatives always lose. Conservatives are the Washington Generals to liberalisms Harlem Globetrotters. That’s been the case since at least 1789 when the French Revolution – spurred by its cousin, the American Revolution – fundamentally changed the course of European history in an atavistic, suicidal direction.

Flash forward to 2014, and the “conservative” movement here in the United States provides a microcosm of the larger trend of never-ending defeat. Today it was reported by the Associated Press that the Republican Party has made no progress on its public image with non-whites over the last year. Non-white Americans don’t support the GOP because it stands for an agenda that is antithetical to their interests.

Conservatives will look at this and say, “non-voting Hispanics are more likely than the voters to express conservative attitudes such as agreeing that ‘hard work’ is more important than ‘lucky breaks or help from other people’ in getting ahead.” Such claims are non-sense, of course. The Democrats have got Hispanics in the bank precisely because they represent Hispanic interests.

But that’s not the issue here. Not anymore. Even if conservatives came to their senses and accepted that Hispanics will never buy what they’re selling, their destiny would still be defeat. It’s not just that conservative ideas and principles are incompatible with Hispanic interests, it’s that those ideas and principles are morally bankrupt.

The conservative movement, as articulated by the likes of talk radio and the network of think tanks, assumes without question that the following principles are fundamental to conservatism:

  • Getting ahead
  • Owning your own business
  • Economic growth

It is those first two principles in particular that must be taken to ask, for conservatives are ready to dump all over their own base if they deviate from those principles.

Christopher Chantrill is a textbook example of this. He penned a doozy on October 23, 2013 in which he trashed the White working class and spit all over their authentically conservative values. So dishonest was Chantrill that he took a quote completely out of context from a new American Enterprise Institute report on the White working class. Here’s how Chantrill described it:

Working class whites see “their middle-class bosses as people who ‘worried all the time,’ [are] ‘cold and snobbish,’ and as ‘arrogant, very arrogant people.’ They [see] their work as ‘just a job,’ not a rewarding activity of itself.”

Here’s what the AEI report actually said:

For the typical white working class person, family and stability are more important than career and upward mobility. They saw their middle-class bosses as people who “worried all the time,” were “cold and snobbish,” and as “arrogant, very arrogant people.” They saw their work as “just a job,” not a rewarding activity of itself. As befits people who work in teams and do heavy labor, they saw collegiality and practical knowledge to be of greater worth than individual striving and theoretical knowledge. Levison describes this combination as a “distinct combination of viewing work, family, friends, and good character as central values in life while according a much lower value to wealth, achievement, and ambition.”

Let me repeat that: The White working class embraces work, family, friends and good character. They don’t really care about wealth, achievement, and ambition. The first line alone says it all: “For the typical white working class person, family and stability are more important than career and upward mobility.”

What do conservatives stand for if not family? What do they stand for if not stability? What do they stand for if not good character? Apparently conservatives don’t stand for any of those things anymore. Chantrill deliberately took that AEI quote out of context to paint working class White Americans as a bunch of greedy, lazy bums. And this is not the first time he’s insulted them. In a November 15, 2011 American Thinker article, he argued:

“The white working class needs to stop whining about the bosses and exploitation and accept the basic contract of the free economy. Get a skill, and then offer it to the world.”

Dollars to donuts this guy regularly listens to Tea Party hero Krista Branch’s I am America and always shouts out the line, “look down your nose at the peasants below.” Meanwhile, he refuses to “understand and respect the moral underpinning of working class life,” which as AEI goes on to say:

That moral view places emphasis on hard work and effort and gives respect to those who perform it, regardless of how much money is directly earned. It is one that emphasizes that life is about much more than making money or getting ahead: it’s about family, friends, and experiencing the time we have on Earth. Such views cannot be derided as “whiling away the time”; they are central to the working class world and must be respected.

Put in context, it’s clear that the White working class, by and large, supports traditional conservative principles. But the so-called “conservative” movement doesn’t stand for those principles. Instead it stands for a cutthroat ideology that tramples everything in its path, including the very notion of different human tribes:

“The white working class has a pre-capitalistic worldview; it lives in the world of the tribe and the strong leader or patron…So it doesn’t make any sense to try to cuddle up to the white working class. They live on another planet.”

Somebody should tell Chantrill that without tribes – without a clear understanding of “us” and “them” – he has no moral basis to oppose “radical Islam” or any other “enemy” of America. But that’s the thing about capitalism: It doesn’t recognize tribes. It doesn’t even uphold the dignity of the family, which is the most basic tribal unit. Every individual is a commercial commodity under capitalism – which is to say every individual is dehumanized.

So who does Chantrill suggest conservatives should appeal to?

“Target number one for 2014 and beyond has got to be the middle-class millennials.”

Presenting the latest Washington Generals strategy: Conservatives must appeal to the group where only 32 percent of them believe in American Exceptionalism – compared to 50 percent of Baby Boomers and 64 percent of Silenters (1930-1946). Oh, and only 70 percent of Millenials describe themselves as Patriotic as of 2011 vs. 91 percent of Boomers and 90 percent of Silenters. Millennials feel this way about America because so many of them are non-white:

The report indicates that diversity of American voters is growing. This diversity creates a proportionately smaller number of white voters, which is the majority of the conservative Republican base. The “minority” vote; including blacks, hispanics, women, and gays, usually leans more liberally, and that growing diversity correlates with more progressive voting attitudes.

The report in question is a January 16, 2014 piece from the Washington Post. It explains in specific detail the consequences of a national trend that the Post covered today and that conservatives pretend doesn’t exist: Americans are deeply divided by race and religion. Just look at what Chantrill claimed on October 17, 2010:

“In the old country, you trusted people only as far as the limits of blood, kin, or village. But in the American civilization, we extend trust to the community of all those who can be trusted.”

Nothing has changed. As America becomes bigger and more racially diverse – i.e., less tied together by blood and kin – trust plummets.

To wrap this up, conservatives like Chantrill don’t stand for authentic conservative principles. They despise their own White base. While telling us they “believe in an America that is cooperative, peaceful, and egalitarian,” they really see life as a football game, and we are all Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree. Such are the consequences of lionizing the immoral principle of “getting ahead.” (It should be noted here that “egalitarianism” and “getting ahead” contradict themselves, not to mention egalitarianism is inherently liberal).

Most importantly, while claiming they are conservatives, what they stand for is actually liberal, and what they claim is liberal is very often conservative. It’s a screwed up mind game, and the sooner it unravels with the American public, the better.