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Paradigm Shift: Real or Illusory?

May 19, 2008

Paradigm: A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

Has America undergone a genuine paradigm shift regarding our national values? Do the majority of Americans really believe, for example, in "man-made" global warming? Or have Republicans simply sold out on this issue and others in the name of expediency and wanting to be "liked?"

The recent special elections of Democrats over seemingly "safe" Republican candidates in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi has spawned arguments about how and why this could have happened. My theory is this: Americans are less and less clear on whom the Republicans are these days and what they stand for. On the other hand, if a Democrat shows even a hint of a moderate to conservative tone, then he or she is almost a shoe-in. This should be telling both parties something.

Republicans certainly act like a genuine paradigm shift has taken place. They are, by and large, scared to death to espouse any position that is not in lockstep with the enviro-Nazis. Doesn't it seem that if they believed most of the public was against environmental extremism, they would speak out against it?

The media, of course, have a large role in shaping the paradigm regarding the environment, the war on terrorism, taxation, and any number of other issues. A constant drumbeat of one-sided propaganda is difficult to overcome. Yet Ronald Reagan did it, brilliantly, time and time again in the 1980's. What makes Republicans think that the time-honored principle of speaking simple yet relevant truths to people no longer can work just because we're in a different century?

The media want people to think of loony far lefties as "mainstream" and will go to great lengths to convey this image. A recent example is U.S. News & World Report's puff ball interview with left-wing blogger supreme Arianna Huffington. Huffington, former wife of a Republican congressman, has, Hillary-like, swung left with a vengeance in recent years. In the interview, Huffington huffs about being "betrayed" by her former hero John McCain because (gasp!) he's had the nerve to act like a Republican on the Iraq war. Never mind that McCain sounds like a typical Democrat when bloviating about the environment or illegal immigration. That's not enough, and besides, Huffington wasn't asked about it. Not once was she challenged about why she felt so strongly betrayed by McCain when he's been left-friendly on so many issues besides the war. And that's the rub, right there.

No matter how much Republicans pander and pretzel themselves to be as much like Democrats as they can, and to be liked for doing so, it will never work. Because no matter how much they do, as far as the enemies (liberals) are concerned, it's never, ever enough. And the perceived paradigm shift and a friendly media allow the Democrats to continue playing this game and play it successfully. In so doing they pull the Republicans, and the electorate at large, further and further in their (leftward) direction.

If the paradigm shift about issues like the environment is indeed illusory-and, given that much of it is built on the promotion of Big Lies-Republicans of courage could and should stand up and go on the offensive against it. The facts are on their side. True scientists are coming out of the closet almost daily to discredit the myth of man-made (or perhaps any) global warming. At this point, Republicans have nothing to lose and much to gain by going on the offensive. The defensive crouch of the last 10 years has clearly been a dismal failure. Republicans have lost a lot of respect and stand to lose much more this fall unless they throw off the shackles of defensiveness, of having to almost apologize to voters and the media for who they are, and grow their spines back.

Even if the real paradigm shift has taken place, the mark of a true leader is one who, to paraphrase the immortal William F. Buckley, Jr., can stand astride the threshold of a future moving in the wrong direction and yell, "Stop!" America is in desperate need of such leaders today.

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