Wal-Mart R US

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Filed Under General on Mar 2 

I am birthing a thought that’s been ruminating around in my brain, at least I hope that’s where it’s been, over the last few weeks. I’ve heard references to it multiple times recently, the latest being Rush’s speech to the CPAC crowd. It’s concerning the people we as conservatives are to woo and persuade and influence in order to win an election and move America in the right direction. The comment at CPAC by Rush was basically: “We’ve got to go get the Walmart voter.” We need to go get the middle of America, the majority of America right where most of us live – men, women, white, black, hispanic, other ethnicities, all of us. We need to stop pandering to the elites, and go after connecting with most of our fellow countrymen in a populist kind of way.

Yuval Levin, writing for Commentary Magazine, commented on a distinction between what he called populism vs. elitism, used in the context of an article on Sarah Palin. He argues that while Republicans tend to be economically elite, they are culturally populist; and the Dems tend to be culturally elite while being economically populist. He describes it this way:

Republicans tend to identify with the traditional values, unabashedly patriotic, anti-cosmopolitan, non-nuanced Joe Sixpack, even as they pursue an economic policy that aims at elite investor-driven growth. Democrats identify with the mistreated, underpaid, overworked, crushed-by-the-corporation “people against the powerful,” but tend to look down on those people’s religion, education, and way of life. Republicans tend to believe the dynamism of the market is for the best but that cultural change can be dangerously disruptive; Democrats tend to believe dynamic social change stretches the boundaries of inclusion for the better but that economic dynamism is often ruinous and unjust.”

Using his paradigm, the reason why Palin was such a lightning rod figure in the last election was that she was a thorough-going populist – economically, she is for the little guy, against corruption and waste. Culturally, she fit home with the NRA and NASCAR crowd. But because she was such a thorough-going populist, she caught the ire of the elites—both the cultural elites of the Dem party, as well as the economic elites within the Republican party.

That distinction stuck home with me. That’s why Palin was such a galvanizing figure to many in the election; she brought it home to the people of the US in a very populist way, something McCain had clearly lost (if he ever had it at one time) over the years. And that is why she was so demonized by the Left: she stood in direct contradiction to their own premises that to be a leader, a working woman, or a woman at all, required you to buy into a certain set of assumptions—their assumptions. And because she debunked that primal word view, they went ballistic on her. The fundamental basis of their world view was at stake.

It was a fear-driven attack by the elites afraid that this populist woman could upstage their chablis-swirling hero. It was truly frightening to them. They did it the only way they knew how: mock, insult and crush her normal intelligence and abilities into a pulp-sized nugget of idiocy. They stomped, scorned, despised, derided, and disparaged her till only the most rabid fans, the ones they could label as intellectual idiots and morons – would still be voting for her. Even though she was (and I would argue still is) immensely attractive to many, she has been tarnished and branded by the elitist left.

But I think that in the ashes of that conflict lie the seeds of an attack upon the elitist left’s very epicenter of existence. That is where we can strike home at the (dead) heart of liberalism, by exposing their own vanities, double-standards, arrogance, and self-righteous superiority over the rest of us. Rush was right: it’s all about control, and the elites want it, stemming from a self-perceived, haughty sense of “I know what’s best for you.”

What I heard Limbaugh saying in his speech was: screw the elites. If we try to dance the elite tune, whether it be the R or the D version, we will always be the minority party.

“The blueprint — the blueprint for landslide conservative victory is right there. Why in the hell do the smartest people in our room want to chuck it? I know why. I know exactly why. It’s because they’re embarrassed of some of the people who call themselves conservatives. These people in New York and Washington, cocktail elitists, they get made fun of when the next NASCAR race is on TV and their cocktail buds come up to them, “those people are in your party? How do you put up with this?” It would be easy to throw them overboard, so as to maintain these cocktail party/Beltway/New York City/inside-the-Beltway media relationships.”

Here’s what I am thinking on this: I think it’s time we stop trying to match all of the elite’s issues they have about conservatives, trying to dance the tune they play for us, and start speaking to the heart of middle America.

It’s time to stop swirling the chardonnay. It’s time to drink the beer: NASCAR beer; Wal-mart beer; housewife and mother and damn proud of it beer; truck-driving, 1-home living, mortgage paying, saving scraps for the kids’ college, vacationing in a motel or RV, being kind to people on the street, shotgun hunting, firewood burning, rule of law abiding, normal living, natural-consequences-happen-to-us kind of beer. The beer of over 70% of Americans.

It’s time to stop trying to prove to the elites (media, university, and governmental) that we have to be the equal of them intellectually (which is exactly what they want us to attempt), argue about their issues, cling to their premises, and abide by their rules. It’s time to stop respecting their contradictions when the go apoplectic about ours.

I believe we can be immensely populist when it comes to economic issues: anti-corruption and waste (good night, that’s a no-brainer!), level playing field for all in the market, hard work moves you ahead, fiscal restraint and reserve; as well as cultural issues: being center-right with most of the social and cultural hot buttons out there.

Levin says as much:

“Palin’s potent combination of cultural populism and social conservatism might provide the roadmap a Republican politician will need in the future to make headway against the Democratic tide. But that roadmap will only take that Republican politician so far. The rest of the journey requires the articulation of a broader vision for American families, American prosperity and freedom, and American security; a vision of conservatism, not only a nimbus of populism.”

“Both economic and cultural populism are politically potent, but in America, unlike in Europe, cultural populism has always been much more powerful. Americans do not resent the success of others, but they do resent arrogance, and especially intellectual arrogance. Even the poor in our country tend to be moved more by cultural than by economic appeals. It was this sense, this feeling, that Sarah Palin channeled so effectively. Her appearance on the scene unleashed populist energies that McCain had not tapped, and she both fed them and fed off them. She spent the bulk of her time at Republican rallies assailing the cultural radicalism of Barack Obama and his latte-sipping followers, who, she occasionally suggested, were not part of the “the real America” she saw in the adoring throngs standing before her.

Put down the wine glass. Grab the work gloves. It’s time to get to work identifying with most of America, and shining the light on the egotistical, conceited, condescending elites of this country who make up most of the Democratic Party.

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