A tried and true leadership principle states that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. But what happens when you’re losing the culture war — and you have been for decades?
A new generation of conservative leaders have been pondering this question. The answer that many are arriving at is that it’s time to reprioritise strategy.
One such leader is author and Queens native Ryan Girdusky. Last year he founded a political action committee, the 1776 Project PAC, with a single aim: to elect school board members nationally who reject woke ideology and believe that America — and American school children — are worth redeeming.
In an op-ed for the Washington Examiner last June, Girdusky outlined his strategy:
“My 1776 Project PAC will campaign on behalf of school board candidates that want to promote a patriotic vision of U.S. history and civics. We will oppose those members who are dividing our country with critical race theory.”
Working alone and with a shoestring budget of US$150,000, Girdusky five months later saw 42 of the 58 conservative candidates he’d backed elected to school boards.
The New York Post called his 72 percent win rate “stunning”. It praised Girdusky’s PAC as “the Right’s first such endeavour” in a level of government where “Wokistanis, Cancelistas and their comrades have roamed rather freely”.
Girdusky’s campaign targeted seven US states and provided candidates with digital ads, leaflets and other grassroots campaigning materials. Some of them won on margins as small as 25 votes, even in counties that favoured Biden in the 2020 election.
In New Jersey’s Democrat-strong Passaic County, for instance, Hispanic voters played a key role in electing conservative school board members who openly promised to oppose CRT and stand for American values.
Remarkably, Girdusky’s efforts also had a “reverse coattails” effect, shifting entire counties to the Right as other on-ballot Republicans collected votes they otherwise wouldn’t have secured. In one Pennsylvania county, this even helped in the election of a conservative Supreme Court Justice.
The success of the 1776 Project PAC provides reassuring evidence that critical race theory — and wokery more generally — is on the nose in middle America. More than that, it proves that strategy is at least as important as culture if conservatives are going to win the culture war.
Girdusky is clear-minded about what is at stake, and he pulls no punches in his description of critical race theory:
“The theory describes the ideas in the Declaration of Independence, that all people are created equal and ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,’ as white supremacy. It rejects concepts such as classical liberalism, individualism, capitalism, legal reasoning, and equality. Instead, it endeavours to replace them with a socially engineered system similar to Marxism — but based on race instead of class.”
Not content with his 42 victories last year, this November Girdusky hopes to flip 300 school boards around the country. It is an “astonishing, riveting and potentially game changing” aim, according to the New York Post.
Girdusky’s goal is to see millions of American school children with school board members who advocate for them and “defend gifted-and-talented programs and oppose mask mandates; Critical Race Theory; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; watered-down standards and transgender hormone therapy for pre-teens.”
The White House race is always important — as are statehouses, governors’ mansions and city halls. But for America’s children, the coalface of the culture war is in the classroom.
And Ryan Girdusky knows it.