It is our character that supports the promise of our future – far more than particular government programs or policies. – William Bennett
There were those of us, the values voters, who stood by stunned when the bar for personal conduct, vulgarity, sexual assault, law and American values was lowered by those who refused to remove Bill Clinton from office in 1998. We were told we were prudish, imposing religious values and should mind our own business by staying out of Clinton’s “private life.” That side won the culture war. My side lost the culture war. They may now reap what they have sown, and what they have sown is an acceptance of Donald Trump. This linguistic monster, whose polyglot range is a very limited dirty to deriding, was created by those who stood with Bill Clinton, who made the coarsening of American discourse official. They’ll never admit it. The left is married only to the moment with no view of history or legacy.
Someone owes Gary Hart a presidency, after his was derailed by a mere picture of a woman sitting on his lap. We have gone from that standard for personal conduct to a society that would make Hugh Hefner blush. As Robert Bork pointed out, our slouch toward Gomorrah is the “rough beast of decadence” introduced by the left to American life. The Clintons particularly helped move us there.
The left has vulgarity playing on a constant loop in the national background like a porno movie at a stag party. American pop culture now looks like Larry Flynt’s America. Even the most seemingly innocuous movies have some dialogue or scenes of sex that make one say, “I can never watch this with even my adult children.” Television has become a smut contest as commercials inundate the viewer with claims of 4 hour erections. Music, Hip Hop in particular, is obscene. Even during sports one risks seeing Janet Jackson’s breasts. American culture is now a horny 15-year-old boy. This is now also the aesthetic of our politics, from Bill Clinton’s cigar to Donald Trump’s small hands. Austere, well-mannered county club preppies like the Bush family have had their day, replaced by a reality TV shock-jock cum politician from Queens. God save us.
Yet in an odd twist, values at least “looks” like it’s making a comeback. The Democrats, who seemingly were willing to accept all forms of conduct both illegal and crude from Bill Clinton in 1998, are giving impassioned speeches about public decorum, like Michelle Obama who was “shaken to her core” by Trump’s alpha-dogging dirty talk in front of Billy Bush. Suddenly there is no “private matter” when it comes to politicians, like there was for Bill Clinton. Values matter, we are told, by those who denied it 18 years ago.
Excellent. We’ve seen American political parties undergo major shifts in the past – in fact even switch positions. In the beginning, it was the Republicans who wanted a loose interpretation of the Constitution and Democrats who were strict-constructionists and concerned for states’ rights. Flip.
It would seem with this sudden “Democrat Spring” and their insistence on respectable decorum in the public square, the American right need only re-commit themselves to this long-held tradition and join them, thusly reclaiming an America where you can once again listen to your radio with your grandmother.
Oh, if it were only that easy. Oh, if the Democrats were only being real.
Democrats aren’t driven by a sudden fondness for good clean living. As usual, it’s party first. Right now, a Fred Rogers personal identity for America is a useful tool in this election. As soon as that tool is no longer needed, they’ll go straight back to their neighborhood in Sodom. The Democrat ability to set aside even their most beloved (claimed) causes routinely gets disavowed to favor a Clinton candidacy. Women’s groups will raise hell about workplace sexual harassment and male power in those situations, until the perpetrator is Bill Clinton and the victim Monica Lewinsky. They will raise hell about defense attorneys in rape cases bringing up the sexual promiscuity of the victim, unless that attorney is Hillary Clinton using a report that said the 12-year-old rape victim fantasized about being raped. They are currently defending that – just ask one of her “feminist” supporters. Good grief.
So, there’s no real concern that there is a “swapping” in each party’s view about the proprieties of acting polite and cordial in public. Democrats are insincere about it. Democrats are currently ignoring, as they have in the past, real crimes, which shows no commitment to virtue. They ignored Bill Clinton lying to a federal judge and Hillary Clinton mishandling secret material. Both crimes. They accept freely all the scandals, list ad nauseam, of Hillary Clinton, even the new ones like secret deals between the State Department and the FBI, or a plot to infiltrate and disrupt the Catholic religion. No, the Democrats are not suddenly virtue-crats.
Republicans now suffer a similar problem with hypocrisy on values. They are thrust into defending that which wrinkles their conservative souls in Donald Trump’s candidacy. Raised on Reagan’s 11th commandment and a belief that all good men must come to the aid of their party, Republicans, values voters in particular, are caught in a gotcha moment.
Trump’s candidacy isn’t a puzzle no matter how incapable mainstream media is of figuring it out. He started with ideas that attracted conservatives – ideas they felt the party elite was ignoring: Tightening of immigration, a fair fight with foreign countries on jobs, national security, lower taxes, American pride and an outsider’s takeover of D.C.
Then there was political correctness, that nagging eyelash stuck to the cheek of the American face that wouldn’t let loose no matter how many times we tried to brush it off. Trump’s brashness was a conservative backlash against PC. At first it was fun. There is a certain guilty pleasure both sides get out of politics – the more the other side hates something, the more pleasure we get in saying we support it. A collective, smirking, thumbing of the nose if you will.
Then it got out of hand. Trump’s lack of concern for dignity and etiquette crossed every line no matter how many times Republicans re-drew it to fit him on the correct side of it. We couldn’t have fun with it any longer. He would make Silvio Berlusconi ashamed. We want what was good and different about Trump but he pushed us to the point where support for him is to debase our own values. Now it’s too late.
Republicans are forced to act like Democrats – to care only for winning the election now, while American legacy for beauty be damned. Some, like Paul Ryan, are finding that very difficult.
The nomination of Donald Trump will be how values voters lose arguments to the left in the future. When Hollywood, Democrats or the left in general are caught in an act of culture destruction, they will respond to our complaints, “But you nominated Trump!” How shall we respond to that discussion ender? We have conceded the high ground on gentility in society and politics by nominating Donald Trump.
They’ll blame us, but truthfully all are to blame. We could have had Jim Webb v Marco, or Jeb, or John or Scott. We all chose what we have, Democrats and Republicans.
The fight for American civility and values has never been in worse shape.