We generally talk in terms of issues as opposed to goals, for example. What is our goal? No one knows, but they’re sure of their positions on abortion, gay marriage and taxing the rich. The purpose of doing this stuff gets lost in a haze of dogma and emotion.
In this type of environment, it’s easy to fall into the mistake of allowing the opposition to define the discourse. If you let them set up the issues, and you react to those, then while you may have an “answer” for their propaganda, you don’t have a direction.
Republicans in particular are lost because they are defending what’s left of a once-great society. In order to not get overwhelmed by the singular focus of the left (on equality) and the multiple conflicting demands that are inherent to any party that represents a majority, Republicans have focused on a few fields of battle, most notably placing business before ideological equality imperatives.
However, the left is like a laser: it is polarized. It has one issue, equality, and as a result it has a position on every issue, which forcing each and every single possible choice into being a rabid support for equality. In fact, the left is a “my way or the highway” bunch: they have one ideal, and if you don’t support it, you are considered an enemy.
The right doesn’t really have a similar lightning rod because as a majority it isn’t interested in polarizing issues. It wants a lifestyle, a normal life that rewards the good and pushes the crazy out of the way, and challenges all of us to do our moral best.
I have in the past suggested the term “Mayberry” as a code word for what we want. This mythical village existed on the Andy Griffith Show and for many Americans, represented what they idealized: away from the urban horrors of both Archie Bunker and Sesame Street, in small-town America where values were consistent and wholesome.
The Mayberry mythos has several parts to it. The first is the location; the second, the population; the third, the lifestyle; and the fourth and final one is that challenge to do our moral best.
- Location, location, location. Mayberry is a revolution against the idea that cities are too big to fail, and that having many different people doing many different things is not chaos but a comfortable collage of harmonious differences. Mayberry is a large town or small city, away from the coasts but not too far other places, probably with a population between 20,000 and 500,000. This range is the level at which humans can live together and not be on top of each other, and not be so anonymous that horrors are ignored.
- The population. The future residents of Mayberry are not Archive Bunker. They don’t want to tell you how to live. But they don’t want you to tell them how to live. Like most ethnic groups, they prefer their own, which is majority American nativist (English, German, Dutch, Scots). They like blonde children, because blonde is “our” color, and they like having a shared heritage that is more similar than different. This is not to say that they want to harm others, only that they prefer to socialize with themselves and don’t want to be forced to include everyone.
- The lifestyle. People in the modern world want more intense, varied, sensual and expensive lifestyles. People in Mayberry prefer the simple pleasures in life not because these pleasures are so good, but because the more intense pleasures end badly and aren’t that fun in the first place. Thus, the reasoning goes, what you find in life is not the activity, but the growth of yourself and the time you spend with others. You cannot substitute for having real experience by going to trendy clubs, buying fad products, and being in the news. You need real experience, and that’s forged through normal living and normal pleasures. Hope you like fishing, whittling, football, knitting, horseback riding and hunting, because this is what people in Mayberry do.
- The moral challenge. The point of this rather unexciting lifestyle is that we are here on earth for a purpose, whether granted to us by some mythological God or like most things, derived using our common sense. External things like socialization, wealth and popularity cannot substitute for inward things like moral courage, honesty, pride, honor, genuine affection and generosity. These come from having a soul at rest with itself, and that state comes from challenging oneself to rise above the animal nature of life and aspire to goals beyond the material. Everything has a point in Mayberry, and the goal is for each person to rise to a point of moral clarity and to get to know themselves. This is in part why people in Mayberry insist on so much free time, simple living, and a somewhat churchy focus. It’s about growth of the soul.
Mayberry will not satisfy everyone. Nothing does, and those things that require the greatest willpower and intelligence to appreciate are the rarest, not the commonest.
It is indeed a vision of hell for liberals. They hate majorities, they hate well-adjusted people, they want to replace internal moral challenges with external reward programs, and to be frank, they hate white people and blonde people. To them, it would seem boring and difficult.
But to those who see the world as a chance to be more than a body and more than another soulless consumer gulping down junk in an attempt to find a purpose in this world, Mayberry is a delight. A rare oasis of sanity.
Even more, it represents the American and European dream: we will go to new places, forge for ourselves a good living, and then enjoy that by raising our kids with the lessons we have learned. We do this so future generations can build on what we have fought for, and exceed us.
Welcome to Mayberry.