Where’s Charlton Heston When You Need Him?
In looking around YouTube a little this evening, we found this…
More, this time of him reading a passage from Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park on the vanity and stupidity of the idea of man-made climate change and the “destruction of the planet”…
Charlton Heston wasn’t just a great American actor – there are few enough of those these days – he was also an intellectual.
And Heston was, like Ronald Reagan before him, a steadfast, philosophical conservative. With Hollywood so poisonous in its left-wing professional tyranny since about the time Heston’s film career began wrapping up, it’s unlikely we’ll see another cultural figure of Heston’s stature so outspoken in defense of the principles which founded this country.
Heston is no longer with us. Neither are many other conservative titans prominent and respected in the culture.
Crichton, whose later novels debunked the Left’s idiocies with characteristic technocratic flair, is gone. Milton Friedman is gone. William F. Buckley has departed the scene. James Buchanan, the economist who created public choice theory – the theory which explained that politicians act under precisely the same self-interested motives ascribed to players in the private economy – and introduced the concept of “rent-seeking” into the public lexicon, passed last week. We even lost Andrew Breitbart last year.
And many of the giants of conservatism in American culture – Rush Limbaugh, Thomas Sowell, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Neal Boortz (who is leaving his show; Vince at Flopping Aces has a good piece on Boortz which helped inspire this post) and many others – are aging.
It’s not an accident that conservatism is struggling to find younger champions. The Left’s dominance of cultural institutions, a dominance which has become more and more aggressive beginning in the 1980’s and intensifying through the present day, has squeezed our movement’s development of a new generation of conservative intellectuals. As such, our best and most aggressive spokespeople come from backgrounds similar to that of Beck, or Breitbart, or Limbaugh – namely, that their philosophical and ideological awakening came not from formal education and instruction in our intellectual patrimony but rather as a function of having been self-taught through a mountain of independent reading. And while the product of that study is usually far fresher than the stilted, grievance-based gobbledygook one can find from overeducated dunces like Melissa Harris-Perry and Thomas Friedman or overcelebrated clowns like Matt Damon and will.i.am, it also allows the Left to paint modern-day conservatism as the product of mediocre minds and talents. And while that seems rich coming from the people who gave us Al Sharpton, Al Franken and Keith Olbermann, they’re making it stick.
Allen West is crazy, but Debbie Wasserman Schultz is DNC Chair.
It all seems to lead to a despondency; a diminution of standards leading to an inevitable decline.
Our movement may be suffering from its natural attrition, but we still have more talent than does the Left. What we lack is an outlet for that talent; certainly Fox News is a major asset but paradoxically, before Fox came along the Left was forced to accept conservatives on its air in the way of “balance,” and now it refuses to do that in more than very token doses. What’s needed are additional outlets and additional opportunity for cultural figures to develop.
We need an alternative to Hollywood which can create film and TV properties based on the values of the Right rather than the Left.
We need a new generation of talk radio hosts which can carry the message, but what has come after Limbaugh, Hannity, Boortz and Mark Levin is substantially less articulate and less attractive. The giants who built talk radio as a conservative institution are giving way to voices much more shrill, emotional and cheap (in the sense that many of the “up and coming” talk radio programs are as much Howard Stern as they are Rush Limbaugh). There are exceptions, of course; Laura Ingraham is quite good, Mike Gallagher is as well, Andrea Tantaros now has a radio show that seems destined to be very attractive and Adam Carolla’s podcast is to conservatism what Bill Maher’s unwatchable but persistent TV show is to leftism. But we need bigger, stronger and more.
We need another conservative Fox News. Glenn Beck’s The Blaze has potential; that might have been one reason why Al Gore was more interested in selling his failed Current TV venture to Al Jazeera than taking a bid from Beck on the 60 million homes Current can get in front of. But even if The Blaze can make the transition into a national cable network, it’s still not sufficient to have only Fox News and The Blaze when battling NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and the countless other left-leaning outlets which provide “news” content without even calling themselves participants on the political scene.
We need representation in the music industry beyond country music, currently our last redoubt in the recording business.
We have to break apart the Left’s dominance of academia, from kindergarten all the way to graduate school. The internet, and its applications in education, may be our best tool for doing so; the inevitable bursting of the education bubble is surely another. Ideas like Gov. Rick Perry’s insistence that public universities in Texas offer a $10,000 degree by leveraging technology to cut costs could create public policy solutions to a cultural problem, but it needs to be the market – and an effort in the culture – which lead the way.
And we have to break down the Left’s dominance of identity politics. Particularly in the black community. Conservatives must invest resources on a persistent and aggressive basis to discredit – inside and outside of the political campaign – the progressive project. There are weapons to be used in this regard. The abuse of law-abiding African-Americans’ 2nd Amendment rights by leftists in urban America is one; thankfully the obnoxious Rahm Emanuel offers a poster boy for that abuse. The abortion issue is another. The gay agenda is a third. School choice is obviously a fourth. More must be developed. But rather than building a grassroots organization of black conservatives which can move some percentage of the vote into the GOP’s column – after all, had Mitt Romney managed to win 25 percent of the black vote he would be inaugurated as president later this month – we must create conservatism as the voice of dissident blacks in America by using conservative messaging with newly-emerging black advocates to directly take on the black establishment and show how it is failing the black community.
It is both surprising, and unsurprising, that our efforts in the black community have been as meager as they’ve been. For decades the conservative movement has been steadily eroding in its confidence, and because of that erosion it has failed to reach beyond its friendly confines in red states and suburbia. But if the GOP and the conservative movement would apply resources toward developing a cadre of black conservative activists to set and fan fires of dissension within that community’s establishment and capitalize on those fires by running political campaigns – in the knowledge that for the time being the victories will be few and far between but that winning elections in the black community is less important than consistently capturing a quarter to a third of the electorate which can be mobilized in statewide or national races, then we win.
It’s a massive project, and we are not currently well-prepared to complete it. It will take a mobilization of resources the conservative movement hasn’t undertaken in decades. But the resources are there. The talent is there, though much of it hasn’t been discovered yet. And the enemy’s weaknesses are there.
The question is, where are the inspirational figures? We don’t have enough Charlton Hestons. We have to fix that.