BY: JOHN DANIEL DAVIDSON | DECEMBER 20, 2022
JOHN DANIEL DAVIDSON
VISIT ON TWITTER@JOHNDDAVIDSON
One of the things I get asked from time to time by readers is, what can ordinary people on the right, Christians and conservatives, do to help save the country — besides voting on Election Day?
It’s a good question, and it comes from the very understandable feeling of helplessness many people feel about the direction of the country and, let’s be honest, the collapse of Western civilization that’s now well underway. It’s especially easy to get frustrated after an election cycle like the one we just had, in which Republican leaders thoroughly botched it and left things more or less where they were before the voting. Put another way, if voting doesn’t really change anything in our so-called democracy, what will?
There’s an answer to this question, but you’re not going to like it. The plain truth is this: You’re going to have to save the country yourselves. Donald Trump isn’t going to save it. Ron DeSantis isn’t going to save it. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that a GOP majority in Congress is going to save it.
By all means, keep voting in national elections. Keep making your voices heard at the ballot box. But salvation won’t come from Washington, D.C. If America is going to be saved, or even just parts of it are to be saved, then ordinary men and women, God-fearing patriots all across the country, are going to have to do it themselves, one town at a time. And they will have to do it the old-fashioned and unglamorous way, by taking over the local institutions of civic life, organizing and winning elections for city council and school board, finding reliable and competent people willing to be candidates and staff and volunteers.
It’s going to be a long, thankless slog, but there’s no other way. Neither is there any guarantee of success. I speak here only of towns and suburbs, not of cities, many of which have become unlivable after decades of failed Democrat governance and leftist policies. Conservatives who can manage it should move to places where they can join with other like-minded Americans to take back their communities and instill a civic culture that reflects their beliefs.
We got into this situation through passivity, and only a sustained effort at the local level will get us out. For decades, conservatives did nothing while the left marched through academia — and then kept right on marching, down from their ivory tower and into the public square, into the schools, the libraries, corporate boardrooms, local police and fire departments, even the churches. These people have radical views far outside the American mainstream but nevertheless control all our institutions. If you want them back, you’ll have to take them back, post by post.
This is not the kind of thing the right likes to hear. By temperament and principle, conservatives would rather be left alone to run their businesses, raise their families, worship in their churches, and build up their charities and local communities. Unlike liberals and leftists, they tend not to be ideologues. They are not trying to fundamentally change the country. They mostly want to be left alone.
But of course, they will never be left alone. The woke radicals will never stop — until someone stops them. A kind of conservative radicalism, or at least activism, is going to be required to accomplish that.
A good example of what I’m talking about is playing out in the small central Texas town of Taylor, population about 17,000. Taylor, some 35 miles north of Austin, is a rather conservative place of the sort you can find all over the country. It recently made national headlines over its traditional Christmas parade; a longstanding town tradition organized by a coalition of local churches. Last year, organizers accidentally approved a parade float for a group calling itself Taylor Pride, which the parade committee naively mistook for the name of a group that was just proud of their town. What they got instead was a float featuring two men dressed in drag, dancing suggestively in what paradegoers assumed was going to be a family-friendly event.
Parents and attendees were understandably perturbed. To ensure it didn’t happen again, the consortium of local churches that runs the parade sensibly decided that this year, parade floats must be consistent with traditional biblical and family values. The point wasn’t to exclude any individuals or groups from attending or even participating, but to ensure the floats were family-friendly and not — like the Taylor Pride drag queen float — contrary to Christian teachings.
The City of Taylor responded by announcing it would stage its own separate LGBT-friendly “holiday” parade, on the same night as the traditional Christmas parade, on the same route, following right behind it. The decision was made not by the elected members of the city council, who are accountable to voters, but by the municipal staff who actually run things. There was no public notice or deliberation and no consultation beforehand with members of the city council. The municipal bureaucracy acted on its own authority to use (or rather misuse) public funds and resources to sponsor a parade that was wildly out of step with the community at large.
Kevin Stuart, a Taylor resident and assistant professor of political science at the University of St. Thomas, wrote about all this recently in The Wall Street Journal, noting that the problem in Taylor has deep historical roots. The outsourcing of decision-making to so-called experts has been happening in American towns and cities for more than a century, such that professional bureaucrats now run small towns across America like “ideological colonizers.”
“There is now a yawning ideological gap between the people who live in American towns and the professionalized cadre of city staff who pass through those towns on their way up the career ladder,” writes Stuart. He goes on to argue that residents of towns like Taylor are partly to blame for ceding too much political power to an expert class whose interests and values don’t align with the people they’re supposed to serve.
He’s right about that — and also about how “communities can’t remain strong if they are unwilling to defend common sense and get involved in the political process.” The lesson of Taylor’s dueling Christmas parades is that even in small, conservative towns in deep-red states like Texas, conservatives can’t be complacent. As I wrote last month about the Taylor fracas, there’s nowhere Christians can run and hide from the left. They have to stand and fight.
In Taylor, that means residents who until now might have never been involved in local politics will have to roll up their sleeves, give up some weekday evenings, and get involved. They will have to put up their own conservative candidates and vote out of office the city councilors who empowered a woke municipal bureaucracy. They will have to fire the cadre of leftist bureaucrats who run things and replace them with their own people. They might even have to change the city charter so that elected members of the city council actually do the work of the public in City Hall, not an unelected city manager who sees the job as merely a steppingstone to a bigger city.
The same goes for the library, the school board, and every other local institution in every American town like Taylor. Conservatives have to take them over if they can. To answer the question we began with, that is what ordinary people can do. And they have to start now. No one is coming to help, and time is running out.