Why the Right is losing. A classic film shows them how to win.

Summary: Dan Phillips explains why the Left is winning. The Right is playing by an old playbook, written for the post-WWII era Baby Boomer era that ended many years ago. Until they change, they will continue to lose – and the Left will build a new America on the ruins of the America-that-once-was.

“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous.”
— Mao Zedong in ”Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan”, March 1927.

Raised fist of man on sunny background: revolution.
ID 5365360 © Iakov Kalinin | Dreamstime.

Please Watch The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Excerpt from post by Dan Phillips at Traditional Right, July 2016.
Posted with his generous permission.

As a good traditional conservative, I like Westerns. If you watch a lot of Westerns you will eventually discern that many of them have a very similar theme. This theme is that the breed of men it took to tame the Wild West is different from the breed of men it took to civilize the West once it was more or less tamed. This is an important life lesson with real world application. Conservatives should watch more Westerns and less Fox News.

The outstanding example of this theme is the 1962 John Ford classic, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. If you haven’t seen it, especially if you consider yourself any kind of trad con, I strongly recommend that you stop reading this and watch it and then return to this article when you are done. You can stream it on Amazon for $2.99. For those who have never had the pleasure of watching it or have not watched it recently, I will provide a brief and largely spoiler-free overview.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Available at Amazon.

Ransom Stoddard, played by Jimmy Stewart, arrives in a small Western town after being robbed and beaten by the feared local outlaw, Liberty Valance. The story is told in retrospect, so we know that Stoddard goes on to become a United States Senator after the territory achieves statehood. Stoddard is a bookish lawyer and a decent man who is all about justice and the rules, but he is constitutionally ill-equipped to deal with the chaos and violence that Valance and his crew visit upon the town.

The film makes it very clear that Stoddard, unlike the cowardly local sheriff, is not without courage, but he has the kind of courage of his convictions that gets a decent man killed in the Wild West. He refuses to concede the reality that sometimes in the real world, principles have to give way to the way things actually are.

Stoddard, from the already civilized East, is attempting to act according to his “back East” values, despite the fact that he is no longer back East. A local who is quite handy with a gun, Tom Doniphon, played by John Wayne, sees what is going on with his sincere but hapless friend, and attempts to explain to him the way things work in his new environment. Men like Valance, Doniphon explains, aren’t impressed by his principles. They only understand force. This lesson is illustrated by the famous ending of the film, which I will not spoil. Stoddard goes on to thrive post-statehood in the more civilized environment for which his skill set and demeanor are better suited, while Doniphon lives out the rest of his life in lonely isolation, his temperament and skill set no longer needed.

The above theme is common in Westerns because history reveals it is based in truth. It is not a coincidence that some of the most famous Western lawmen were also former outlaws themselves (“Wild Bill” Hickok, “Doc” Holliday, Wyatt Earp, etc.).

I have previously made it clear that I believe there are some sincere conservative opponents of Donald Trump who are genuinely put off by his at times, shall we say, less than decorous and gentlemanly behavior. In an ideal world, traditionalist conservatives in particular, should value decency and decorum. I wholeheartedly agree with this, but our world is not ideal and Russell Kirk is not on the ballot, and I am not sure Russell Kirk would be the right man for the job at this time even if he was.

Through much interaction with both sides, I am convinced that one of the primary things that divides conservatives who oppose Trump from conservatives who support him is where they view our current situation as being on this uncivilized vs. civilized spectrum. Do we live in a civilized society that just needs fine-tuning, something that could be accomplished by a man of conviction and principle like Ransom Stoddard, or do we live in an uncivilized society that needs a gunfighter like Tom Doniphon to do what has to be done to tame the land first before we can worry about principles? By the standards of the film, are we pre-statehood or post-statehood?

It is not a reach, I believe, to view Ted Cruz and many of his diehard supporters (and Rand Paul and his supporters) as having a mindset a lot like Stoddard’s, concerned about principles and technicalities like the Constitutional process, checking all the conservative boxes, keeping the ideological flame, etc. but not realizing that we now live in an uncivilized and in many ways lawless (some have called the current state of our country anarcho-tyranny) country where such things are as useful as Stoddard’s law books were against Valance. While Trump and many of his supporters have a mindset a lot like Doniphon’s, realizing they need to do what it takes to secure the country against hostiles they recognize do not play by the rules.

———— Read the full post here. ————

Afterword by the editor

This goes to the heart of the Republican’s dillemma. Three years later, it looks prophetic. The Left has, again, gone full revolutionary. Here are a few examples.

  • Their efforts to reverse the 2016 election have brought them into an alliance with their long-time foes – the Deep State – and for a second time tests the informal rule that Presidents will not be impeached for policy differences (the impeachment of Andrew Johnson was the first; he too was not convicted). Success would radically change our governing system in ways we cannot even imagine, both making the president beholden to Congress – and making elections contingent on acceptance by America’s elites.
  • The Left’s efforts, aided by liberal judges, to restructure US society continue with no visible limits. The rights for transgenders and multi-genders movement is a battering ram against basic forms of traditions (judges declare millennia-long precedents, uniformally accepted a few years ago, to  be unconsitutional).
  • The Climate Hysteria, now abandoning even the pretense of being based on science, has become a battering ram against our political economy.
  • Campus leftists have shown that leftists officials will give them almost free reign to use mild violence against their political opponents. Now Antifa is taking these tactics to the streets of America. A few journalists, such as Andy Ngo, document this – while most consider this news not fit for your to know.

Conservatives have been unable to muster an effective defense against any of these. For example, the climate “skeptics” have proven unable to organize or even coordinate their efforts. They tiny resources have been expended on fun projects while the alarmists gained the support of most key institutions in America.

More broadly, while the Left organizes to change America the Right has remained content to harvest the grifter economy. As we saw with Trump. Elected on promises to do great things for the broad middle class, he ran the standard GOP playbook. Tax cuts for the rich (with the resulting giant deficits). Deregulation for corporations, plus attacks on unions. More money for the military industrial complex (much of which they have burned in projects like the F-35).

So long as the Right’s politics remain like a dinner party discussion, entertaining but meaningless, they will continue to lose.

For More Information

Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see Chapter One of a story about our future: “Ultra Violence: Tales from Venus.

If you found this post of use, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about Republicans and Democrats, about the Left and the Right, about ways to reform America politics, and especially these…

  1. If we get through this, America might be on the verge of another great boom.
  2. About stories of the coming civil war (our third) – It is not going to happen.
  3. The Democrats will own America. Their past will sink them.
  4. Visions of America if the Left wins.
  5. The Left hates America and will destroy it.
  6. The Democrats show us the politics of ClownWorld.
  7. Two levers to bring the Democrats victory in 2020.
  8. Stoking hatred in America for political gain.
  9. The Left’s bold plans for America – and the coming crash.

The trailer

8 thoughts on “Why the Right is losing. A classic film shows them how to win.”

    1. Astakask,

      Thank you for posting a link to that excellent article. I edited your comment to give a full citation, so more will click on it.

      Some evidence for what he describes: I’ve written over 150 posts about specific things we can do to organize for the reform of America. These are the least viewed posts here. People want to read posts about bad guys so they can boo from their couch, and feel the thrill of righteous indignation. They do not want to work. They run from responsibility like vampires from daylight.

      This is much like the last generations of the Roman Republic, whose people found the burden of self-government to difficult to bear. Others volunteered to rule them, much as is happening today. For more, see America isn’t falling like the Roman Empire. It’s worse.

      1. From the linkerd article, today’s words of truth: It’s hard to intellectually appreciate a difference in values when every fiber of your being is telling you that the other person is just being an asshole.

        Goes well with “There is no use in trying to make it idiot proof, someone will create a better idiot.”

        As someone who has watched the right fail in a winning situation, these two points seems to capture a lot of the problem indicated by the main post.

        Somewhere, somewhen, somehow, the practical should take precedence over the ideological. For it is not a single fight, we fight, but a fight that started long before we were born and will continue long after we die. Shall we live free, or be subjugated and coerced? Each must choose, or choice will either be stolen, or bought.

  1. The article that is the target of the link is attributed to Dan Phillips rather than William S. Lind. Good article, though, and still prescient.

  2. Organizing in the present environment;

    I believe a key assumption of this blog is that the political and institutional machinery for reactivating our republic is presently available to us–a first step is getting off our rear-ends and making the individual effort to engage with and use this machinery in a multiplicity of ways to begin to gain leverage and power.

    But what if this assumption is mistaken in the sense that the nature of the regime we presently face has radically changed since WWII.

    What if the seeming independence/autonomy of our present political, economic and military systems is no longer real and that instead the respective plumbings of these bodies are now so deeply intertwined (think Silicon Valley and intelligence surveillance, Federal Reserve and private banking, and payment for purchase of all things military through an almost automatic granting of funding requests) that we are now faced with the reality a new political regime that has already or is presently transferring control from constitutionally democratic institutions and their representatives to a more Leninist type centralized bureaucracy.

    Could the organizing insights/tactics/strategy of the insurgents in Solidarity in Poland (in the 1970s) be of more relevance today than that of the populist American farmers of the late 19th century or the Tea Party activists of the early 21st century?

    1. James,

      “But what if this assumption is mistaken in the sense that the nature of the regime we presently face has radically changed since WWII.”

      I can’t say you are right or wrong about the current institutional structure of the US. But this is the key, no matter what the situation:

      “a first step is getting off our rear-ends and making the individual effort”

      Nothing can happen until we make people both care and want to act.

  3. Wow, never seen a movie illustrate red pill, blue pill way of life . So James stewart character what allowed feminism . I wonder how his marriage in the movie played out . This movie explain why the decline , when men like john wayne character became weak and allowed ( under the assumption of “goodness”) weak men like James stewart to take the lead.
    The comparison between john wayne and trump is very good, especially in relation to women.

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