Conservatism: The counterculture of our time
PASADENA, Calif., July 11, 2016 — Watching Hillary Clinton on television is difficult. Between her shifting accents and awkward teleprompter issues, the last word in the world that someone would use to describe her is cool.
Perhaps the only thing more uncool than her stage presence is the policies she supports and specifically the policies she doesn’t understand.
It’s not just Clinton, though. Bernie Sanders is about as plain as it comes. His policies are pulled straight from the Soviet playbook. There is nothing fresh, exciting, or forward thinking about taxing income over $1 million at 100 percent. Even the “younger” politicians who are supposed to be progressive, like Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, have no charisma. Their policies are just as backwards as Sanders’ and Clinton’s, the defacto leaders of the party.
Why associate the word “cool” with Democrats when there is absolutely nothing cool about them? One of the principle tenets of coolness is pushing back against social norms, rejecting establishment dictates to live an “authentic” life on your own terms. It means not bowing to big government.
That renders un-cool every liberal from establishment Clinton—the epitome of status-quo insider—to socialist Sanders.
Democrats represent everything that is wrong about the status quo. Today’s liberals try to strangle liberty, disarm the public, saddle the next generation with unsupportable debt, and are so beholden to unions and special interests that they want to suppress innovative companies like Uber. The party that claims to look out for young people, to be in tune with our high-tech zeitgeist and ready to foster new ideas can’t even figure out why Uber is important.
There’s enormous irony there. Austin, Texas, a tech-loving, liberal bastion, has literally driven Uber out of their city because of their leftist, backwards attachment to the status quo. There’s nothing cool about that.
It was that kind of oppressive, backwards thinking that gave the rise to the punk movement over the last 40 years. Punk rock was a counterculture movement. The Sex Pistols, Crass, the Ramones, the Clash and other great bands from the early years of punk all sang about pushing back against the man, fighting against identity politics, and the liberty to be who you want.
Who is today’s Johnny Ramone? Who is the Johnny Rotten of today’s disenfranchised youth, who are tired of exploding government and identity politics? Who represents today’s counterculture that fights back against the Washington-Wall Street, crony capitalist establishment?
Is it Hillary Clinton? No. It’s conservatives, more specifically, people like Rand Paul.
There are many choices, many young and exciting voices, but like his father Ron, the guru of anti-establishment politics today, Rand resonates the most with the younger people.
Rand Paul is a James Dean-like figure; he represents the push back against everything that the mainstream is trying to push down our throats. As government explodes, Paul is out there shredding the tax code like Mick Jones used to shred guitars. When liberty is threatened, Paul filibusters intrusive anti-privacy bills, dominating the Senate floor the way Keith Morris or Steve Ignorant would dominate a stage.
You don’t even have to go with politicians. There are plenty of figures in the conservative crowd who represent everything the punk movement and other counter-culture movements over the past hundred years have represented. These are people like Milo Yiannopoulos, Matt Drudge, Gavin McInnes, Dana Loesch, Mark Levin, Ben Shapiro and Greg Gutfeld, people who fight the system and stand up to the dominant culture and its establishment.
These are people who follow the steps of the late, great Andrew Breitbart, who defended the principle that we all have the right to live our lives as the rugged individuals we are.
The media try to trick us with pictures of attractive young millennials parading around the streets in “Feel the Bern” T-shirts, but it’s just marketing. They look and act like an indoctrinated army of clones. They are establishment shills, not the “progressives” they fashion themselves as.
Let’s stop referring to liberal Democrats as “progressives.” They aren’t, and the word is as meaningless as “feminist.” It means only, “I stand for what I think you stand for.”
Democrats today embrace regressive policies that hold people back and stifle liberty. And now the left is holding this economy back and leaving us with the slowest recovery since 1949. Nothing about the left today represents progress unless your definition of “progress” is to ensure that as many people as possible have to share the same bathroom.
Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the definition of “progressive.”
Rand Paul isn’t a hard-drinking, womanizing, guitar-shredding punk rocker. But he, with many other conservatives, represents absolute rejection of the status quo.
Why do things have to remain the same? Most Americans—68 percent—think the country is on the wrong track. So why continue down it in hopes that it will work better this time? Isn’t that like the AA definition of insanity?
Conservatives are facing those questions and trying to get the rest of us to face them, too, just like counterculture movements have done in the past. Democrats, on the other hand, want to charge full steam ahead.
If we are going to throw the word “cool” around, we shouldn’t throw it at Democrats. Conservatism will be the critical opposition to liberal orthodoxy in coming years. Countercultural movements have been essential correctives to rigid and stifling prevailing culture in our past. The battle against liberal malaise and economic incompetence is the most important battle our country will face in our lifetimes.
What side are you on?