I know there are a lot of Bacevich readers in the audience here, so I thought I would pass along this link to his participation in a discussion at the TPM Book Club last week (post 1, 2, and 3, and then his participation in a discussion of the future of conservatism that featured this:
The Left has won the culture war, and, at least in the near-term, its victory is irreversible. In social relations, the right to choose trumps all other considerations: to fornicate, marry, breed, abort, divorce, and abandon. That a single mother with six kids should opt for another eight because she feels like it captures the distilled essence of the cultural moment that we have entered. Somehow ritual expressions of support for “family values” don’t quite provide an adequate response.
When it comes to economics, faux conservatives–Ronald Reagan in the vanguard–collaborated with liberals in abandoning even the pretense of prudent fiscal management. The blindingly obvious result: debt and dependency. “Today,” writes Niall Ferguson in a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed, “America is Argentina.” Just so. We can’t pay our bills so we pretend we’ll never have to. Those in power pay lip service to our collective obligation to future generations and then cynically ignore that obligation, appropriating trillions in the hope that somehow or other we can spend our way out of the hole that we’ve dug for ourselves. The only obligation with which the present generation is likely to keep faith is a self-assigned one: to binge, vainly trying to satisfy its own appetite for consumption. What exactly in this Ponzi scheme should conservatives be exerting themselves to preserve?
Bacevich’s statement about the left “winning” the culture wars is so obviously true, but never really explored. The future of conservatism and the fate of the GOP were leveraged for short-term political gain (Terri Schaivo, anyone), and they lost all the battles they were fighting anyway. All that remains now are the tail ends of fights about gay marriage, and despite Prop 8 and other setbacks, the future is clear. Republicans and conservatives will lose this battle, as well.