Paul Ryan speaks at the Reagan Library. Fast forward to around the 24-minute mark, where he says in part:
As the left gets more woke, the rest of America is getting weary. This stuff is exhausting. And we conservatives have got to be careful not to get caught up in every little cultural battle. Sometimes these skirmishes are just creations of outrage peddlers, detached from reality and not worth anybody’s time. They draw our attention away from the far more important case we must make to the American people. Culture matters, absolutely, yes, but our party must be defined by more than a tussle over the latest grievance or perceived slight. We must not let them take priority over solutions — grounded in principle — to improve people’s lives.
Well, that sounds like someone who has not taken the right lessons from the past several years. Is Ryan under the impression that the influx of Hispanic middle- and working-class voters in particular toward the American right is about all that “solutions-based policy”? Or, as you’ll find if you pay any attention to the dynamics going on here, are they reacting to a surge in culture war from the left that has taken over their schools, sought to defund the police, and embraced the radical agenda of BLM as gospel?
Diminishing the culture war in this heated moment isn’t just anti-conservative — a political movement fundamentally about defense of tradition and order against the forces that seek its destruction — it has the priorities of the people completely backward. What good is prosperity and low capital gains taxes if it comes at a heavy cost for American families and communities? Seeking the interest of the American people and listening to them when it comes to their priorities isn’t just a strain of populism, it’s about more than that.
Our cultural differences with the left are not mere matters of preference or outrage peddlers — they are policy differences as well, because the emboldened left repeatedly tries to legislate their values. We are a long way away from complaining about violence and sex on TV. When books get removed or added to curriculums across the nation through media-orchestrated and corporate-funded campaigns, it’s not a matter of outrage trolling, it speaks inherently to what we value as a community. When parents raise concerns, they are ignored, threatened, or silenced.
Look at Loudoun County Virginia for one example. Ian Prior writes of an Underground Railroad Simulation:
[T]he Underground Railroad Simulation was presented to the school’s Project Based Learning (PBL) Committee in fall 2018, including all of the fourth grade teachers, and no issues were raised. The lesson was on the agenda of all subsequent PBL Committee meetings leading into February 2019 and 21 staff members, including the principal and assistant principal, were aware of the lesson…
The principal and the school’s dean came to watch the exercise, both said that it was “awesome,” according to a source present during the simulation. The principal also tweeted: “TY for doing this with the students. They were 100% engaged in this learning experience.” A second school staffer tweeted: “This is amazing. They’re going to love it. Thank you for working with us on our unit.”
It wasn’t until after the Loudoun NAACP complained that LCPS changed its tune. The Madison Trust principal deleted his tweet and apologized for “insensitive physical education.” The principal then sent out an email to the whole school stating that “Loudoun County Public Schools does not endorse the use of instructional strategies that place elementary students in role-playing situations depicting the institution of slavery.” Several weeks later, after continued press coverage, six members of the Black Panthers of Virginia entered the school to protest the use of the Underground Railroad Simulation. … [O]ne of the gym teachers has left the profession and another has moved to a different school.
Meanwhile, money started flowing to consultants. The Equity Collaborative received an initial contract and is still under contract with LCPS. The Loudoun Freedom Center, run by the head of the Loudoun NAACP, also received a long-term contract for “consultation in curriculum review” that began the month after the Underground Railroad simulation.
Then the Loudoun NAACP leveraged the Equity Collaborative assessment to trigger an AG investigation and settlement to require critical race theory in Loudoun County Public Schools. All because two teachers used an exercise invented and used by anti-racist and equity coaches across the country. What an absolute scam.
Or read Evita Duffy about the New York Times’ coverage of race in her Wisconsin county. “Left-wing New York Times columnist Reid J. Epstein traveled to Marathon County, Wisconsin last week to defame my hometown and smear its working-class residents as racist because they refused to commit our community to racial “equity,’” Duffy writes. “Only a political hack could describe our quiet, blue-collar county as ‘simmering’ with racial tension.”
I like Paul Ryan, and I always have. But this speech could not be less in touch with the priorities of the American voters brought into the Trump coalition in 2020. Going down the road back to green-eyeshade conservatism ignores everything we’ve learned about what these voters want: a greater priority placed on the interests of defending the nation, the family, and the worker.
As Calvin Coolidge warned a century earlier: “We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp.”
The culture war is real, it is constant, and leaving the battlefield because it is exhausting — and it is — will only leave the American people to be crushed under the weight of woke corporations, the administrative state, and the propagandistic media that guides them.