When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

03 May 2006

Crunchy Culture

Are you, or do you know, a "Crunchy Conservative?"

Author Rod Dreher, whose book, "Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, Gun-Loving Organic Gardeners, Evangelical Free-Range Farmers, Hip Homeschooling Mamas, Right-Wing Nature Lovers, and Their Diverse Tribe of Countercultural Conservatives Plan to Save America (or At Least the Republican Party)," may have the longest subtitle I've ever seen, has a little theory about a new movement emerging from within the conservative fold.

Crunchiness, and its potential to both irk and challenge the Republican Party, has become Rod Dreher's central preoccupation: In the summer of 2002 -- not long after he'd discovered that Birkenstock sandals make his achin' dogs feel better and that the stuff from the co-op tastes even better than the No. 2 combo at his beloved Sonic Drive-In -- Dreher wrote a brief essay for National Review's Web site, which grew into a 3,000-word manifesto for the magazine.

"We made fun of our liberal friends," he originally wrote of his newfound love for organic food, "until we actually tasted the vegetables they got from the farm. We're converts now, and since you asked, I don't remember being told when I signed up for the GOP that henceforth, I was required to refuse broccoli that tastes like broccoli because rustic socialist composters think eating it is a good idea."

The essay ran, and though his right-wing friends mostly hated it, he got more positive responses from readers than for anything he'd ever written, all on a variation of "Me, too."

A broader manifesto began to take shape. Crunchy Cons prefer smaller houses, older things, the musty truth of Scripture. "Culture is more important than politics and economics" is a bullet-point, as is "Beauty is more important than efficiency. . . . Small, Local, Old and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New and Abstract." Meanwhile, "The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our senses to authentic truth, beauty and wisdom."

Memo to Rod, et al: There is no inconsistency between having a membership in the local food co-op and a nice portfolio of mutual funds, and neither is a good predictor of how someone will vote.

Also: Damn hippies. Get a haircut!

Crunchy Culture: Washington Post

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