Conservative Stockholm Syndrome

Since the election, we have witnessed among Republicans much teeth-gnashing, soul-searching, and blame. Much of the blame-throwing, unfortunately, is directed at the base.

Among the scapegoats are members of the Tea Party. Michael Barone -- one of the many Washington pundits who grossly miscalculated the presidential election outcome -- blamed Tea Party “wackos, weirdos, and witches” for Senate losses while speaking at Hillsdale College.

Since exit polls showed that non-whites and young people overwhelmingly voted Democratic, the reaction has been that Republicans need to work harder to attract those demographics, specifically very broad categories of blacks, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans as well as young people aged 18-29.

While a Pew Poll last December revealed that many more Americans identify themselves as conservative than liberal, the breakdown according to the demographic groups shows a divergence among these demographics in opinions about socialism. While only 24 percent of whites viewed socialism favorably, 55 percent of blacks did and 44 percent of Hispanics did. Favorable opinions of socialism have an inverse relationship to age: the most support comes from those aged 18 to 29. Forty-nine percent of young respondents gave a favorable rating to socialism, while only 34 percent of the 30 to 49 age group did, only 25 percent of the 50 to 64 age group did, and a mere 13 percent of those above 65 did.

Liberal pundits like Jay Bookman herald such trends and predict “the future of capitalism will not look like the past.”

What will this capitalism be like?

I think the repackaged former Obama Special Advisor Van Jones sums it up in his new book, Rebuild the American Dream. Jones, who was responsible for allocating $80 billion in “stimulus” funds for “green energy,” quietly left his position after Glenn Beck exposed his communist roots, his support for cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, and his signature on a 9/11 “truther” petition.

In his book, Jones repositions himself as a basically conservative family man (before he makes scurrilous, unsubstantiated charges against Tea Party members and revises history). He highlights his parents’ conservative ethic of hard work, and his Southern and Christian roots. He emphasizes his father’s advice about uplifting the black community through jobs. He downplays his youthful radicalism and tags onto the idea of the American Dream.

The American Dream for Jones, however, is rebuilt with government assistance. While he sidesteps the question of why the free market itself has not produced “green jobs,” he nonetheless rhetorically puts the emphasis on skill training, jobs, opportunities, and revitalization of blighted neighborhoods -- with which most conservatives would agree. Again, the primary difference is that Jones sees the government as being the entity that creates the jobs, an idea which we know will result in failure and massive waste of tax dollars.

Jones’ vision is one that appeals to naïve young people, who increasingly seek careers that combine financial success with “social justice.” Even those majoring in business show a growing desire to work for the government.