Today Rod Dreher has an excellent piece over at The American Conservative. In it he argues that conservatism is losing because conservatives have given up on storytelling. Didactic writings issued from think tanks aren’t very likely to influence behavior. Compelling stories are.
Dreher shares his own experience about moving back to Louisiana. For years he argued for community, but he never practiced what he preached. Seeing the story of his sister’s life and death changed his behavior.
According to Dreher, Americans ceded storytelling and the arts to the mass media. This mass media has always been characterized by a more progressive worldview, so left-leaning narratives are the only kinds of stories that we heard for generations. This situation leaves people making a choice between culture and conservatism. Dreher again relates his own experience.
I get this. As a bookish kid struggling to find a place in a world of hunting, fishing, and athletics, I was offered refuge in art, literature, and music my ninth-grade English teacher. She was quite liberal, but she was the only person I knew who shared the passion for creativity awakening inside me. I came to believe that all people who were serious about art were naturally liberal—and I became liberal too, for years. Over the years, I’ve seen that most of my conservative friends who are artistically inclined became so in spite of their conservatism—that is, despite the fact that the right-wingers they knew disdained the arts as effete and impractical. A love for art and literature was not part of the conservative story, as they received it.
Dreher invokes the memory of Russell Kirk and admonishes conservatives to reclaim what we’ve given up. It won’t be easy because we’re out of practice. Dreher reminds us that this is a long-term investment. We need to forget about short-term political gains. Our culture is at stake.
Read the entire article here.