Rebellion is not controlled by political parties. It’s built in human nature. The natural urge to push back against ‘authoritah’. The problem for someone like Barack Obama in the arena of political governance in accepting the cultural standard bearing of what cool and relevant is, ultimately he is going to have to come to terms with the same rules of cultural fads as anyone else like movie stars or pop singers.
People will move on. Fads will die.
This explains this recent past ongoing progressive obsession with JFK on the heels of Barack Obama’s failed Healthcare roll-out. He was never given a chance to become old, uncool or unwelcome. He never was really given a chance to betray the image he was elected on in the eyes of the people that elected him. JFK is the Democrat party’s Kurt Cobain.
Young people eventually grow out of and even ridicule pop stars they once had plastered on their bedroom walls, like a snake shedding its own skin and then eating it. That’s exactly the precipice Barack Obama and the Democrat party find themselves on right now.
They are the old poster on the wall.
There is a cultural sea change happening and it’s not just happening online or on message boards. Rebellion against Barack Obama is becoming cool and it’s not because of any idea put forward by conservatives or GOP policy. The question that remains is if older generations of conservatives are willing to cede the social narrative of a younger generation burned out on Hope posters and intolerant of their phones being monitored and being taxed for not buying a health insurance plan they didn’t sign up for.
The answer is they might not have a choice.
Without delving too deeply into a distant 2016 Presidential race, the GOP’s bench of possibles is stacked with youth. The Democrat lineup is old, worn and could possibly be relying on a 70 year old woman who actor Matt Damon once hypothesized would have a one in three chance of not even surviving her first term. It should go without saying that the youth vote is essential in 2016. More essential than in 2008 even because young voters won’t be looking for another person who can simply string together buzzwords and platitudes through a teleprompter and reverb. In 2004, the Democrat party was left for dead and looking for a message. A war weary country hounded daily by a progressive media complex was sold a phony message of hope. This phony message won’t sell again.
Swings like this don’t happen from arguing ideologues on both sides in social media. It’s the completely natural shift in culturnomics. The natural instinct to gravitate toward the alternative of whomever is in power.
And it’s already happening. It’s happening in television, art, fashion and even in video games.
The most recognizable if not the overall most quotable character in TV sitcoms is none other than the tax hating Libertarian Ron Swanson of NBC’s Parks & Recreation. Swanson is a throwback to the Teddy Roosevelt Conservative whose popularity has grown beyond the weekly NBC time slot and is littered in gifs and memes over Tumblr and Pinterest posts, despite the writers trying to craft Swanson as the cliched punchline of the show, similar to Dwight Schrute, who incidentally also seems to be over this President’s antics. More young voters are learning about Conservatism and Libertarianism from Ron Swanson than anyone in the GOP has put forward.
This past October, Forever 21 released a shirt with the quote “The question isn’t who is going to let me, it’s who is going to stop me.” from none other than counter culture Libertarian idol Ayn Rand. Was the company aware of the meaning or the origin? Who knows. The shirt was quickly pulled from shelves when web media was alerted but the experiment is fascinating. Somebody in Forever 21’s marketing department obviously thought this was an empowering message they could sell to young people.
Gone are the faded distressed screen printed images of soviet lite pop art.
Grand Theft Auto V became the the highest selling video game of all time and the first to pass the billion dollar sales mark, grossing $800 million on its first day. The game features the ability to play as three different characters driving, flying and running around a mock Los Angeles causing unimaginable mayhem and havoc with a built in story that rivals Michael Mann’s crime saga Heat. GTA as a series has always had its conservative detractors for its overuse of ultra violence, sex and drug dealing story-lines but the game has grown immensely in creating a satirical universe that lampoons the celebrity and political saturation of our own culture on all sides of the aisle.
Enter protagonist Trevor Phillips (voiced and motion capped by actor Steven Ogg). Trevor is a psychotic profanity spewing ticking time bomb of unpredictable brutality. He’s the absolute culmination of everything Grand Theft Auto; playing as a character that horrifies the gamer while also making them laugh hysterically. He’s everything someone would love and hate about say a young manic Jack Nicholson and is the most popular character in the game, if not any major game in recent memory. There are innumerable ?videos on You Tube and memes on Reddit honoring his antics. Trevor also happens to be wildly, unabashedly Conservative. He believes in freedom of entrepreneurship, the elimination of unions and their representatives, limited government and strong border security. He is also unquestionably principled and loyal to his friends even at the expense of his sidekick who is convinced of big bother and chem trails. It was enough to drive Ed Shultz even further off the deep end of sanity.
Because of the success of GTA V, gamers can no longer be written off as a basement dwelling subculture the way they could when they were busy sharing tactics on 4Chan message boards, worshiping Shephard Fairey and wearing Guy Fawkes masks and they certainly should not be written off by Conservatives. No one on the right has to admire a cult figure like say Julian Assange. You don’t have to agree with his politics or tactics but Assange has a rabid, devoted following. A fringe disenfranchised with 4th amendment abuses and the policies of droning-at-will. When Julian Assange says someone on the right is the only hope for American politics, his followers listen. So should conservatives. This is not a movement clamoring to line up and vote for Hillary Clinton, this is a movement asking to be led.
The Democrats are going to be stuck trying to energize a disengaged youth culture that is watching Ashton Kutchner talk about hard work and Carrie Underwood making fun of Obamacare to thunderous applause while pushing the hip credentials of a senior citizen.
These are all examples of themes quietly bubbling up and into the mainstream culture not necessarily because of anything Conservatives or Libertarians are saying, but simply because Barack Obama’s message is becoming tiresome, like a losing sports team tuning out a coach because they know next season they will get to have a say in his replacement.
This is why young people on the right don’t get offended when a 74 year old Harry Reid or a 73 year old Nancy Pelosi calls us Anarchists for opposing the massive growth of and overreach of the Federal Government. They appear as every bad “Get off my lawn” cliche imaginable, the people who don’t go out past 5:00 pm because they’re afraid teenage lycan hybrids will track him down and eat them.
These examples aren’t about culture embracing a new found conservatism. It should be more conservatives embracing the culture of anti liberalism. The question is if the GOP has the bravery to step out of the way of it.
Millennials coming to terms with the broken promises of Barack Obama aren’t necessarily looking to the GOP for an alternative answer the way they turned to Ronald Reagan, but they might be looking to a new generation of speakers and leaders who can articulate that conservatism is simply the natural alternative to the false promises and hope of big government liberalism. If those leaders tend to be more socially libertarian then we should accept them and the talents they can bring with them with no reservations. Yes, all of them.
Older conservatives will argue that counter cultural and libertarianism isn’t conservatism at at all. Libertarians will argue against anyone trying to co opt their beliefs.?They both are aligned on the same horizon, running parallel to each other. But no truce offering of mine or anyone else is going to bring them together. It’s going to take the collective disgust with what the Democrat party and progressive media has wrought on all of us?and the realization that these changes are happening around us regardless of what either of their demands are. The larger point to be made is that progressives don’t want anything to do with either of us. Ron Swanson was meant to be a comedy sitcom punchline. He’s turned into a national internet hero. Forever 21 never meant to sell a message of self empowerment and limitless opportunity, but they did. No one is supposed to laugh when Trevor Phillips is threatening a public sector union board member with jumper cables, but they do.
Conservatives have a great deal to learn about culturnomics from Libertarians. They should listen. They might not have a choice BUT to listen. Libertarians have a great deal to learn about what plays politically in the arena; The art of the give and take at the expense of actually winning something that matters. There are palatable examples where these two ideologies can merge and its happening already all around us.
And the left will be helpless to stop it.
– SM –