If conservatives have learned anything since the 1960s, they’ve learned that political power and cultural power are two very different things.
Between 1968 and 2016, Republicans won eight out of 13 presidential elections. Yet the dominant culture moved significantly leftward on issues related to sex, marriage, family, religion, patriotism, and identity.
As the great Mark Steyn likes to say, “Culture trumps politics.” In other words, political victories often prove ephemeral, while cultural victories tend to be longer-lasting and more consequential. The past half century has made that abundantly clear.
All of this came to mind as I read Mark Bauerlein’s new essay at American Greatness.
Bauerlein, an Emory University English professor and First Things senior editor, argues that conservatism, rather than anti-Trump progressivism, deserves to be called “the resistance.” After all, even though Donald Trump currently occupies the White House, progressives continue to wield outsized influence over the commanding heights of American culture.
“Genuine conservatives have been resisting progressive aggression for so long — and losing again and again — that progressives don’t even realize that a fair body of their fellow citizens feels besieged and maligned every time they turn on a TV, walk through a mall, and review the books their kids read in high school,” Bauerlein writes. “Progressives own academia, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, public schools, the art world, mainstream media, human rights commissions and other state and local bodies oriented around identity, and human resources in corporate America and medical care. For them to assume the same title as French men and women who battled Nazis is ludicrous.
”The labels should be switched. In truth, the election of Donald Trump was the veritable act of resistance in our time. Liberals and leftists warn of his tyranny and paint feverish visions of dictatorship, but they are the ones who have behaved as if they were an occupying army, expelling conservatives from cultural, media, and educational institutions as soon as they gained a majority of positions.”