If conservatives are to be successful in the long term, they need to face some hard truths. The first is that conservatives do not represent a majority of Americans. Close on the heels of that bitter pill is the fact that most voters do not like Donald Trump. Finally, some conservative ideas are popular, but some are not.Now, let's dispense with the second of his three hard truths, not because it's not true - it is - but because, as the LITD post immediately below, as well as any LITD post about Donald Trump dating back to mid-2015 emphatically differentiates conservatism from Trumpism. Conservatives are not interested in selling Trump to anybody.
By way of pointing out to the reader that the Left is in even worse shape than conservatism, Thornton steers us to a consideration of that ever-present swath of the voting / civically engaged populace: moderates:
Now, it's important to be careful here. My first inclination - I'll be honest - is to sneer. Anybody that a pollster would identify as a moderate, and certainly anyone who proudly self-identifies as such, is an underbaked citizen of our country and inhabitant of Western civilization. Just how do such people form views on policy matters or cultural questions?How do conservatives win elections then? The good news is that liberals are actually doing worse. About 26 percent currently identify as liberals. This represents a long slow climb from 17 percent in 1992.The mathematically astute are probably thinking that liberals and conservatives only represent about half of the people polled. They’re right. The third major group in American politics is the moderates. Weighing in at 35 percent, the moderate group is as large as conservatives and larger than liberals. With neither conservatives nor liberals constituting a majority on their own, moderates are the deciding factor in elections.The problem faced by both parties is that they need moderates to win, but moderates don’t like extremism from either party. Primary voters, on the other hand, love to vote for the candidates that promise to deliver the most change for their respective ideology.
It's true that life in 2018 is hectic and demanding, and that family and work obligations and the attempt at having a bit of a social and recreational life leave little room for the contemplation of the works of the great thinkers in the areas of human liberty and morality, let alone a close monitoring of the flood of current events serving as a backdrop to daily activities.
But appealing to people's basic common sense ought not to be all that difficult. The moral case for citizens citizens keeping their own money is patently obvious, is it not? Ditto the plain fact that there are only two genders. Ditto the fact that the global climate is not in any kind of trouble.
I think the immediate basic task at hand is getting people to think in terms of immutable principles rather than situationally. Moderates are people who say, "Well, certainly such-and-such principle is generally true and makes sense in the abstract, but certain instances arise that necessitate taking the collectivist approach."
That's how we got progressivism in the first place - Richard T. Ely, Thorstein Veblen, John Dewey, Herbert Croly, Woodrow Wilson et al. They successfully disseminated the notion that modern life had grown too complex in the age of industrialization and urbanization for the Constitution to address national issues that were arising.
It really boils back down to freedom, getting people to properly value it - that is, cherish it. How shall we convince people that the only proper surrender of individual sovereignty is to God?
As we know, the culture is now so rotten that it sends the exact opposite message in every way imaginable.
Another element in this is finding out how to bypass the rampant narcissism that makes people decide to adopt certain positions because they're hip - i.e., validating. In that sense, maybe the fragmentation of our culture can be a good thing. There is now no universally recognized standard of hipness. Even within the identity-politics world, factions form that exclude each other.
This is a tough nut to crack, for sure. Let's go into this with no illusions about the magnitude of the task.
But go forward we will, because there is no other palatable choice.