Editorial

Why conservatives are losing, and may deserve to lose, the culture war

John Guardiano Freelance Writer

If conservatives want to know why they’re losing the culture war, and why the so-called gay rights movement is effecting a political, social and legal revolution in America — on marriage, adoption, military service and a host of other issues — look no further than Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

Graham is quoted in Saturday’s Washington Post about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and, amazingly, says this:

The policy is a major change. There’s all kinds of evidence that some people can accommodate change; other people feel like they can’t accommodate the change.

In other words, the problem with openly gay service isn’t the gay activists who want to enforce public acceptance of open homosexuality; it’s religious and cultural traditionalists who are having difficulty “accommodat[ing] change”!

With political friends like this, who needs enemies?! In this, as in many other areas, Graham votes right while talking and winking left. He buys into many of the Left’s political and cultural presuppositions.

Unfortunately, Graham is not alone. In fact, the same thing could be said, unfortunately, about many conservatives: They become pathetically inarticulate and tongue-tied — and, therefore, de facto left-libertarians — on social and cultural issues. And I include here most conservative journalists.

Given this sad trajectory, it is only a matter of time before “gay marriage” becomes the social and legal norm in all of America, and “Heather Has Two Mommies” a noncontroversial cultural touchstone.

Conservatives like Graham and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels want to avoid talking about social and cultural issues; but that’s exactly the wrong thing to do.

Instead of avoiding so-called gay rights, “marriage equality,” and issues of religious liberty and federalism, conservatives need to learn to talk about these issues with the same level of political skill, dexterity and sophistication that they talk about, say, taxes and missile defense.

Yet, all too often, conservatives either buy into the Left’s political and cultural assumptions a la Sen. Graham, or they make painfully crude and inarticulate points that repel more people than they attract.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), for instance, declaimed against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on the grounds that the military is necessarily, and by its very nature, “inconsistent with American values.”

“It [the military] does not have freedom of speech; it does not have freedom of assembly; it does not have the freedom to express its love to those in the military the way you can out here, because it’s an impediment to the military mission.”

I am grateful to Congressman Gohmert for having the courage to address this difficult issue (openly gay military service). That at least is more than I can say for many Republican elected representatives, who too often either flee from contentious and controversial cultural issues or surrender to the Left.

But with all due respect to the Congressman, he is simply wrong; and his rhetoric is detrimental to our cause. The U.S. military has always reflected the highest values and aspirations of the American people.

Moreover, our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines do have a constitutional right to freedom of speech; and their expression of love is not what’s problematical about openly gay service.

The problem with openly gay service is that it introduces of an overt sexual dynamic — backed up by the full power of the state, the full force of law — into small-scale military units. And that sexual dynamic is inherently disruptive and detrimental to military effectiveness, mission success, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline within the ranks.

I catch a lot of flak from conservatives because I am a proud, card-carrying contributor to David Frum’s website, FrumForum. David and I might disagree about some issues; but one thing we agree on is this: The Right really needs to improve its game or it’s going to lose big time politically.

Right now conservatives are losing the culture war big time; and it’s because of conservatives like Sen. Graham, Rep. Gohmert and others who haven’t taken the time to get politically smart and conversant about social and cultural issues.

Ditto too many conservative journalists. And, until that changes, conservatives will continue to lose politically — on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” “gay marriage,” and other social and cultural issues. And they’ll deserve to lose.

John R. Guardiano is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. He writes and blogs for a variety of publications, including FrumForum, the American Spectator and The Daily Caller. Follow him at his personal blog ResoluteCon.com, and on Twitter @JohnRGuardiano.