Do conservatives yield a significant degree of influence when it comes to culture? Or is conservatism’s cultural influence almost entirely determined by whether or not the Left cannibalizes itself? To pose this more specifically: Are people now beginning to reject a hegemonic effort to force everyone to view victimhood as virtuous because conservatism is leading them to reject it? Or is the notion so outrageous that the Left’s attempt to push it is simply backfiring horrendously? It is almost undeniably the latter.

In other words, the Right is not winning — the Left is losing. Conservative values are not triumphing. Instead, a far-left attempt to constantly reinforce our immutable differences is finally being exposed for its intellectual and moral hollowness. This is nonetheless an important distinction to make. Even Trump’s election did not happen because he won everyone’s hearts and inspired a massive turnout, it was because Hillary had no clear message and had terrible voter turnout. Trump won because Clinton lost. Likewise, conservatives are not winning; liberals and progressives are losing. Unlike the election, though, the campaign for cultural dominance is an ongoing one.

It follows that you don’t want the success of your “team” (for lack of a better word) to be predicated on the failure of your opponent. I mean you’ll certainly take the W when it happens, but it’s never a recipe for long-term success. Saying that the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship last year is not the same thing as saying that the Golden State Warriors lost it. The 2016 Warriors were up 3-1 in the series against the Cavaliers and they blew that lead. The championship was theirs to lose and they lost it. Yes, as a consequence the Cavs did win the 2016 championship and it required considerable effort on their part, but after going 73-9 during the regular season and 15-6 in the playoffs, the Warriors hadn’t lost three games in a row before they blew their 3-1 lead to the Cavs. So what did the Warriors do? They not so casually picked up Kevin Durant, the second-best player in the league and went on to take the championship right back from Cleveland the next year.

Similarly, the direction that our culture takes is the Left’s to lose, and right now they just so happen to be losing it. However, like the Warriors, all that Democrats and progressives need to do is adjust. They need to smarten up, be a little more strategic, call an audible or two, and it’s theirs again. That’s why conservatives cannot afford to become complacent and must consider long-term cultural influences while not deviating into reactionary movements predicated on feeding off of leftist errors.

Here is a short list of self-defeating things that Democrats insist on doing that are losing them the culture war despite their considerable advantages in the establishment media, educational and political spheres:

  • Doubling down on identity politics
  • Having celebrities make videos telling us how good they are for being progressive and voting Democrat
  • Making TV shows such as, “Dear White People”
  • Making every single joke on every single late night show about Trump
  • Inserting politics into sports
  • Preventing speakers from speaking on campus
  • Diluting the meaning of terms such as white supremacy, Nazi and racist
  • Telling (white) people they somehow continue to perpetuate a non-existent system of oppression
  • Having one person claim to speak on behalf of a certain marginalized group
  • Projecting, “privilege” onto people you don’t know just because of their skin
  • Teaching one school of thought on university campuses
  • Attempting to exterminate masculinity
  • Disregarding the economic consequences of free stuff
  • Refusing to acknowledge the threat that Radical Islam poses to the West
  • Paying for refugees to come into the country and have them live in neighborhoods or houses that aren’t yours
  • Lack of facts to support most if not all their claims in attempt to support an oppression narrative (i.e cops are en masse killing black people)

Ok, so it’s a little more than one or two audibles, but most of them were either not occurring or not occurring to the degree to which they are since Barack Obama took office in 2009.

Nonetheless, if conservatives rely on botched attempts by Democrats and progressives as their only method of garnering cultural influence, it will continue to be the case that most newly-politically affiliated individuals (young people) will steer left. In this, progressivism and cultural Marxism has essentially become the default ideology for millennials. It is becoming even fairer to say that going through an ideologically progressive phase at the genesis of one’s political awareness is something analogous to adolescence for many young people who are just entering the arena of politics.

The MSM, Hollywood and academia established a framework of discourse whereby only they get to determine what it means to be ethical and humane. They design a cultural mold to fit their ideological subscriptions while implicitly appointing themselves as the distributors of ethical status and proper adherents to culture. As a result, young people who are innocuously introduced into the world of Hollywood, media and academia at first become enamored with its aesthetics, pleasure and social security (i.e the beauty of celebrities, the entertainment in movies, the utility of academia, etc) while their ethical worldview becomes like Play-Doh to be easily pressed into the cultural mold. It is now nearly impossible for a child to go his or her entire life without being relayed the message that to adhere to the values communicated by these institutions is simply what people “with hearts” or “who are civilized” do. Prior to their decaying influence, the MSM, Hollywood and academia successfully employed a zero-sum moral framework of public discourse whereby they benefit at the expense of those who deviate from their worldview.

The cultural utility that a guy like President Trump presents is that he functions like a bulldozer dead set on taking down these institutions – particularly the MSM establishment. But keep in mind that even taking down the MSM is by no means a “conservative” thing to do; it’s an anti-establishment thing to do. It could, however, arguably be a necessary act. It could be the case that a cultural void needs to be created before conservatism can actively fill said void and ultimately sway culture. So while Trump is a great destroyer of the media and perhaps other corrupt institutions, conservatives still should look to a President in 2020 who is more of a cultural architect like an Obama-type, rather than another bull in a China shop like Trump.

However, by the same token, one of the problems conservatives have had historically is that they’ve been far more politics-centered than they have been culture-centered. To Republicans, it has been more important to win elections than to win the culture. What’s mistaken about this is that American politics is in many respects subservient or at least subsequent to the culture surrounding it. It follows that the cultural atmosphere usually impacts the laws that are passed. The GOP has a terrible track record of passing genuinely conservative proposals and so they resort to things that make them appear bipartisan and compromising. This explains why Republicans propose horrendous bills like AHCA (aka Obamacare Lite). Our culture does not permit a genuinely conservative healthcare proposal, which is to have a free market healthcare system. It instead dictates that we must be guided by compassion and that the government must provide affordable and increasingly extensive healthcare to as many people as possible at the expense of “the one percent." Every GOP bill that Congress sees is often just a less leftist version of whatever the Democrats are proposing.

The point is that winning in politics is by no means a guaranteed increase in cultural influence or ideological acceptance. So not only should Republicans and conservatives look to a more strategic political play for 2020, they should also do their best to be cultural opportunists in the meantime.

Follow Joshua Eisen on Twitter