The Agenda Game: Part I - Conservatives Lose Ground on Social Issues
Conservatives and traditionalists appear to be hopelessly outclassed when it comes to organizing and strategy. How else to explain the lack of bang for the conservative buck, even with umpteen nonprofits, volunteer groups and lobbying organizations devoted to promoting a traditional approach to social issues? Inboxes overflow with “urgent” admonitions to contact members of Congress over one issue after another: the Defense of Marriage Act, gays in the military, women on submarines, pro-homosexual curricula. This past May, it was the politically-correct censorship of six year-olds (“Candy Cane Case”) and transgendered classrooms.
The very concept of marriage now appears to be in trouble—a cornerstone of the pro-family, conservative movement—even as celebrities brag on and on about conceiving out of wedlock. Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, in an interview just published in WORLD magazine, allowed that pro-family leaders probably are losing the battle for traditional marriage among younger generations of Americans, “as casual ‘hookups’ continue to replace the romance of dating”. A combination of factors has contributed to this result: teen magazine articles; hypersexual advertising; and age-inappropriate, graphic sex education. The one in four girls reported to have had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in 2008 hasn’t changed much from year to year—a little more among some demographics one year, a little less in others.
Any way you look at it, promiscuity is pervasive, and risky sexual behaviors increasingly are expected and normalized, despite the emotional and physical toll on girls, in particular.
Then, there are ongoing issues like crime, low academic performance, loss of personal privacy, the practice of sending naughty and/or “slow” children to psychiatrists for therapy and drugs, human trafficking and dozens more that have seen little or no gain for traditionalists since heaven-knows-when.
Even when conservatives win one, it’s soon back to Square One. For example, the organization MassResistance gleefully reported May 23, that Kevin Jennings will be leaving his post as the U.S. Department of Education’s “Safe Schools Czar” this coming July. Jennings has been the driving force behind pro-homosexual curricula and “tolerance,” as well as founder of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educational Network (GLSEN), which has so much money invested in getting its message out that it even managed to register-trademark (®) its own slogan. Jennings is credited with helping to introduce Bill 4530 in Congress that would require normalization of homosexuality, transgenderism, cross-dressing, etc., in America’s public schools. (Two copycat “transgender” bills at the state level are already taking a toll in California schools; AB 433 and SB 48 are poised to be passed by the California Legislature, but at least one elementary school in Oakland is already indoctrinating kids starting in kindergarten about “gender diversity.”)
No sooner had Jennings announced he was exiting as Safe Schools “czar,” than he was slated to head up an outfit called Be the Change, described by MassResistance as “a turbo-charged community-organizing organization founded by well-known Massachusetts liberal activist Alan Khazei,” who is poised to run for U.S. Senate against a Republican. Khazei, a fellow whom most conservatives never heard of, founded City Year in 1998 as a program for organizing youth, in the spirit of Hitler’s Youth and the communists’ Comintern and Young Pioneers, his goal being to “put their idealism to work” through “community transformation.” (This is the type of “community activism” Barack Obama cut his teeth on in Chicago.) The organization now has 22 offices across the US, and also in places as far removed as London and South Africa, given its slew of high-profile corporate sponsors. Jennings’ new role will not only give him access to Khazei’s fortune and influence, although he may have had it all along, but he will now be poised to include adults and take City Year to even greater heights once he takes the reigns of Be the Change.
With the 2012 election less than a year and a half away, conservatives are asking why things like this keep happening. Why, they wonder, can’t conservatives slam the lid shut whenever a new radical activist-turned-“expert” comes out of the woodwork?
They are finding that, just as housing prices are all about location, location, location, success in politics is all about strategy, strategy, strategy. Conservatives keep trying to recycle the same strategies—and sometimes even the same candidates—year after year. That is one factor in the rise of the Tea Party: the feeling that it’s time for some new blood.
It’s not that conservative ideals are blown off by the public—in fact, most Americans, when push comes to shove, actually identify more with the traditional social mores than not. Polls show that most people value their privacy; they don’t want to be snooped on. They zealously guard what they see as personal property. They expect schools to turn out knowledgeable kids and to instill discipline, not just kids who will be “team players.” They still admire the traditional white wedding, and they’re a bit squeamish about sharing bathroom and sleeping quarters with homosexuals.
So, what exactly is the problem?
It’s the hostile political environment. By the mid-1980s, even with the Reagan Revolution in full gear, the Marxists and anarchists of the 1960s had been trained to carry the day. They became the wealthy, the focused, the movers and shakers. They knew exactly how, and where, to invest their money (media, media, media) and learned to push conservatives’ hot buttons over and over so that traditionalists were left flailing about, hopelessly divided, at each other’s throats, disorganized and angry.
For 35 years, the left has used “the dog-bone strategy.” It tosses one outrageous issue after another to conservatives, and the conservatives always bite. Today, “medicinal” marijuana, tomorrow government bail-outs, the next day gay pride, and the day after that universal government health care. Pretty soon conservatives are left sputtering, grasping at straws, desperately latching on to something they hope will be the issue that carries them to victory—Medicare, school “standards,” energy shortages, taxes. They rarely have time to think anything through, so as to have something substantial to bring to the public table. Just about the time they do get a proposal together, they get kicked into another outrageous “crisis” that must be addressed—right now!
Every month, conservatives must seize a new crisis—climate change, the deficit, sex scandals—launching yet another pitiful exhibition of outrage, while the left-wing laughs all the way to …well, the presidency.
Many conservatives now realize they need to change the dynamics of this game. They know they must take the debate—and the agenda—away from the Left and devise a means of getting the leftist-liberal-anarchist cabal to debate on conservative turf. To do that, conservatives must first figure out where the conservative turf is.
That topic will be taken up in Part II in this series.
About the Author
Beverly K. Eakman began her career as a teacher in 1968. She left to become a scientific writer for a NASA contractor. She went on to serve as a former speechwriter for the Voice of America and for the late Chief Justice Warren E. Burger when he chaired the Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. She was an editor and writer for the U.S. Dept. of Justice before retiring from federal government. Her first book in 1991 blew the whistle on misrepresented standardized testing of schoolchildren. She is now author of seven books covering education policy, mental-health fraud, data-trafficking, privacy and political strategy, with dozens of keynote speeches, feature articles and op-eds to her credit. Her most recent work is Agenda Games: How Today’s High-Stakes Political Combat Works (Midnight Whistler Publishers, 2012). Mrs. Eakman can be reached through her website: BeverlyE.com.
Copyright © Beverly K. Eakman. Used with permission.