On Defending the Status Quo Against the Culture Warriors

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  1. I don’t think this will change things, but here goes:

    I’m African American. And gay. And center right politically.

    And I’m so tired of the culture wars.

    It’s not that I’m an ingrate when it comes to the changes that has happened over the last 50 years or so make my life better. But I am tired of the back and forth that seems to never end. Both the Left and the Right seem to want to not simply outdo the other, but destroy the other.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s gay rights or the role of the government in the economy, we find ways to argue and paint the other side with a very large brush.

    The thing is, life is not that simple. I’ve known people on the Right that do not fit the standard caricture of them and visa versa concerning lefties. I wish that we were more willing to listen to each other instead of shouting.

    I doubt anyone will care what I say, but there it is.Report

    • Boegiboe in reply to Dennis Sanders says:

      @Dennis Sanders, I’m tired of the shouting, too, Dennis. When you say you’re “center right,” what do you mean? Part of the reason some people are prone to shouting is that our political shorthand has become less and less useful, so now I don’t know what the political “Right” is, other than what the loudest people on the Right say it is.Report

  2. Trumwill says:

    This is a good post and reading it was well worth my time. Indeed, my criticism is not directed so much at this piece in particular but rather from a mindset that I see frequently.

    Namely, the notion that the “culture wars” are something thrust upon the public from the right is flawed. It comes from the right, the left, and anyone that seeks to change cultural values.

    Unless you’re sitting out the gay marriage debate, you’re a culture warrior. The only difference is which side you are on (indeed, on that particular issue, the left is the invading army). If you’re seeking to shame racists into silence, you’re engaging in culture wars no less than if you wish to shame gays back into the closet.

    This isn’t a criticism of culture warrioring. The cost of pursuing social change is that it comes with opposition that isn’t just going to quit when you/we win. When the cause is just, it’s a price worth paying.

    Nadezhda seems to actually be less of a culture warrior than a lot of folks I know, but the distinction made between public and private is relatively blurry when the government plays such a substantial role in our lives.

    This role can be used for good or evil, but it will be used.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Trumwill says:


      There’s a difference between culture warring because there’s a an issue that actually matters (e.g. same-sex marriage) and because something has been invented to rile people up (e.g. the war on Christmas.) When I say that I’m sick of the culture wars, I mean the latter.Report

      • @Mike Schilling, I’m not going to defend the War on Christmas on the merits because I believe it’s a fake issue, but I will say that it is a battle in a larger war as to whether or not this should be considered a Christian nation. This is important to both sides of the war.Report

        • gregiank in reply to Trumwill says:

          @Trumwill, I have to admit i detest the term culture war for what how it frames the issue. This quote for Jon Chait “A culture war, of course, is a zero-sum fight between two antithetical values in which compromise is impossible.” expresses all the problems. It is complelty natural and part of democracy for different groups to have their say on issues and try to spread their beliefs. Turning a part of democracy that is good, the ability for people to be free to speak and take place in the public forum of ideas, into a “war” with all the violent, negative connotations does a disservice to democracy. Democracy does not equal war.Report

        • Mike Schilling in reply to Trumwill says:

          As long as the country remains > 90% Christian, that whole war is fake.Report

          • @Mike Schilling, super-majority or no, the prominance that they used to have is slipping. Nativity scenes, prayer in school, posted Ten Commandments, and white crosses on the side of the road are under increased scrutiny. No doubt they have more power than any other religion ten-fold, but that power is on a downward trajectory due to secular forces. For a lot of us, this is a good thing. But it stands to reason that they would be concerned. The forces against Christianity in this country are weak indeed. They may not always be so. You maintain cultural dominance by fighting for it, inch for inch.Report

    • RTod in reply to Trumwill says:

      @Trumwill, You said: “Namely, the notion that the “culture wars” are something thrust upon the public from the right is flawed. It comes from the right, the left, and anyone that seeks to change cultural values… Unless you’re sitting out the gay marriage debate, you’re a culture warrior.”

      I can’t disagree strongly enough.

      Admittedly, it goes without saying that everyone in a pluralistic society has at least slightly different tastes, customs, traditions and values. But even saying that, I don’t buy that almost all culture wars are entirely manufactured, and manufactured by cynical people who don’t necessarily believe in the sky-falling, apocalyptic scenarios they’re peddling. There are probably a few exceptions, (abortion comes to mind), but other than that it’s hard not to call “bullshit” on just about all of it.

      I made this point a few days ago, but take the war on Christmas. In about 45 days it’s going to be all over talk radio, the internet tubes, and Fox. And people will get really bent out of shape about the plans that 50% of the country has to make Christmas illegal. Except, of course, that not only doesn’t that nefarious conspiracy not exist, the people on Fox, the radio and (most of) the Internet know it doesn’t – but they’re going to keep on screaming about it anyway.

      I mean I’m sorry, but some people like arugula? Not a real issue. Some people feel safer eating local/organic? Not a real issue. Some people you’ll never meet and in no way threaten you or anyone else own rifles? Not a real issue. Your children learn that Columbus actually existed – or conversely, that he owned slaves? Not a real issue. Your neighbors watch Football, but don’t like opera? Not a real issue. They listen to NPR? Not a real issue. Muslims 1,000 miles away from you want to have a house of worship in their neighborhood? Not real issue.

      Even most of the hot-buttons aren’t real issues until people looking to leverage power decide to make them so. I mean, I’m sorry — you might well be straight, married conservative and Christian in Nebraska. But until you were riled up repeatedly by charlatans looking for money, votes, ratings or some combination thereof, you can’t convince me you really believed your marriage was in jeopardy because two lesbians in San Clemente decided to make a life-long commitment to each other.Report

      • Trumwill in reply to RTod says:

        @RTod, marriage matters. I am in favor of gay marriage, but I am in favor of it on the merits of it. Opposing certain kinds of marriage, though, is not illegitimate in my view. I (for now, anyway) oppose plural marriage. Allowing some polygamists in Arizona to get married doesn’t affect my marriage directly, but I still rather sincerely view it as a matter of public debate.

        See my comment above about the War on Christmas. I think the debate is pretty silly, but as a part of the larger discussion as to how pluralist our society should be… it’s wrong on the merits but if there were actually an ongoing campaign to remove Christmas from the public square as an affront to people who don’t celebrate that holiday I might be on their side of it. So it’s a question of fact (whether there is a War on Christmas) and not a question of the legitimacy of the issue.Report

        • RTod in reply to Trumwill says:


          No, I think you may have missed my point. (And that would be my fault.) My point is that there ISN’T a war on Christmas. There is, instead, people who want you to be outraged, tune in, donate money and vote for them based on the story that liberals, Democrats, vegetarians, people who don’t shop at Wallmart and other assorted secret communist muslims are sneaking around trying to make Christmas illegal.

          And with few exceptions, just about everything else in this “war” seems fake, about issues nobody ever gave a crap about until they had it hammered into their head that if they didn’t stop the Others, America would be destroyed. I mean, do you really believe people really gave two shits about whether phonics was the primary or secondary teaching method for kindergartners until their talk radio hosts told them boogeymen were coming to take it away in a nefarious plot to usher in a New World Order?

          And while I may be willing to give ground that maybe the marriage issue is a legitimate one, until I don’t have to hear it attached to issues like either shopping at Wallmart or eating arugula means you’re an other who’s destroying out country from within, I’m going to have a hard time taking the “culture wars” seriously… and a harder time taking self-appointed “culture warriors” seriously.

          If you’re right, that there is (or should) be debate about whether America should have an official religion, and it should be Christian, and the sect of Christianity should be X, then I’m happy to have a debate about ratifying the Constitution so it’s a decided issue. But if all you have is a boycott for corporations that use the worked Holiday on cards for their clients, then I can’t take you seriously.Report

          • Trumwill in reply to RTod says:

            @RTod, errr, I agree that there is no War on Christmas. As I said above (in my comment to Mr. Schilling), I believe it’s a “fake issue.” But I (like you, I would imagine) disagree with a lot of their premises. Maybe I would feel differently if I believe that the Bible was the infallible Word of God and that anyone who didn’t completely accept Jesus Christ into their hearts was going to Hell when they die.

            Some people, surprise surprise, are really thin-skinned. That there are people taking advantage of this is no surprise. But that is not the foundation of the Culture War. It is perhaps an abuse of it. That real issues and subjects get abused does not render them (the larger issues) illegitimate.

            People are freaking out about the War on Christmas because it falls into a larger context seen as the War on Christianity. And while I consider the notion that there is a war on Christianity to be ridiculously hyperbolic… my view might change if I accepted their premises and believed that the only way to avoid hell was Christianity.

            It’s not unlike how the bigger an issue you believe racism is in this country, the more likely you are to see utterings that could be entire inoffensive in intent as being a “coded message” for a larger agenda that is hostile to minorities. If you believe that there is an agenda to remove Christianity from the public square and you believe that this is detrimental to the spiritual health of the country, you’re going to make a lot of somethings of nothing. Or believe other people when they do.

            Anyhow, The War on Christmas doesn’t negate the notion that there are cultural battles being waged on both sides and it’s simply not the case that one side is making all the hooplah. And thank goodness it isn’t because progress would be impossible without people agitating for social change. Of course, that’s a mixed bag because a lot of the people agitating for change are agitating for change that you or I (or you and I) would consider bad change.

            In any event, if you disagree with a principle that the left holds dear, you are likely to be namecalled and met with a wholly disproportionate reaction by some on the left. The same, of course, applies to the right. Maybe moreso to the right. But it’s there either way. The battle rages on because there are two sides fighting it.Report

            • RTod in reply to Trumwill says:


              That it’s not a right thing or a left thing, I COMPLETELY agree.

              And you’re probably right, that it’s important because people say it is. But I find that wholly depressing; it seems less to me like way to battle for the soul of the country, and more like focusing on stuff that’s easy to rail about so you don’t have to get down to making the hard choices of governing.Report

            • Trumwill in reply to Trumwill says:

              Such is democracy, in the end, I think. I am a believer in the primacy of social issues. In large part because of what you’re talking about. They’re easier to have opinions on and you can become REALLY PASSIONATE about something you actually don’t know all that much about or need to know all that much about. That’s not to say that these things don’t matter because they do. And it’s because they matter that we can’t overlook them entirely. Kind of like how you can stop smoking by eschewing cigarettes entirely (indeed, that’s the only way) but you can’t lose your weight by not eating at all. If that makes sense.Report

        • RTod in reply to Trumwill says:


          And one last rant-y thing. (Huff, huff!) I think that the reason the culture wars are so big in the age of 24 Hour News and Punditry isn’t that the issues are important. I think it’s because you don’t actually need to know, research or learn anything of substance to create an Culture War issue or become an expert on it.

          I mean, how much research or knowledge does it take to say that you think the teachers union is taking away phonics because their Communists and perhaps have unhealthy relationships with children?Report

      • MFarmer in reply to RTod says:

        Show me one instance where Fox has said there’s a conspiracy to make Christmas illegal.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    I’ve been thinking about this post and there’s one dynamic that I’ve noticed in the various culture wars and it is the notion of the “splitter”.

    Recently, the Episcopal Church decided that it was totally cool to start ordaining practicing homosexuals as priests. Fair enough. There was a subset of the Episcopal Church that said “LEVITICUS! ROMANS!” and said nope, we’re going to keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing.

    It was the latter group, the group that was doing the same thing it had been doing for a while, that got accused of splitting the church.

    Now, let me say, that I am a fairly strong defender of gay marriage and equality in other civil spheres but this particular dynamic is one that made me knit my brow.

    We had two groups of folks.

    This one was changing.
    That one was doing the same thing it did yesterday.

    The one that was “splitting the church” ought to have been the one that was changing, no? Not the one that said “nope, we’re just going to keep doing the same thing as yesterday.”Report

    • Boegiboe in reply to Jaybird says:

      @Jaybird, the Episcopal Church’s governing body came to a decision about how the church should continue. A minority didn’t like the majority decision, so they split off as a distinct organization with a different governing body.

      Even the Confederate States said they were seceding from the Union in the events leading to the American Civil War, despite their reasons being a desire to stick with the status quo.

      To be sure, there are times when both sides in a split claim to be the real and true line of succession. But for a clean way to talk about such things, I think that the folks who find they can no longer work within the system they’ve been part of are the ones doing the splitting, for good or for ill.Report

      • @Boegiboe, that’s right. The traditionalists are splitting because they disagree with the hierarchy’s procedurally legitimate decisions. The twist, though, is that the Episcopal hierarchy’s decisions are getting them into some trouble with the Anglicans worldwide, so, depending on how the next few conferences play out, there may be a whole higher-level round of splitting, where the progressives while have forced the issue.

        And, Jaybird, I do have to note that it is significantly more complicated than “LEVITICUS! ROMANS!” when it comes to denominational politics.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to William Brafford says:

          @William Brafford, it might be more complicated insofar as they have to explain how this part of Leviticus still applies while all of these others don’t due to the new covenant under which we live but I wouldn’t call the complications significantly more complicated than that.

          “These laws don’t apply to me but those laws apply to you” only gets so complicated.Report

          • @Jaybird, it’s complicated because what’s at stake is more than just rules: it’s entire modes of interpretation that come into question, as well as arguments about the weight of tradition. That is to say, it’s not as if traditionalist and progressive Episcopalians agree on everything except the interpretation of a few passages. So in the Presbyterian Church (USA), for example, the dispute over ordination of actively gay ministers opens up a lot of old wounds from the women’s ordination arguments. Also, there are all sorts of governance questions about what to do with congregations that disagree with the larger decision: do you include something like conscience exemptions or not? I’m sure you think this is trivial stuff, but it actually matters a lot because these details will determine who stays and who goes in the marginal cases, and there’s a lot of valuable real estate tied up in churches.

            There’s also a sort of cosmological gender complementarity argument that involves a lot more of the Bible than just Leviticus and Romans, but that will have to be a subject for another time.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Boegiboe says:

        @Boegiboe, “I think that the folks who find they can no longer work within the system they’ve been part of are the ones doing the splitting, for good or for ill.”

        So the folks who want to ordain gay priests, would you say that they decided that they could no longer work within the old system that forbade such an act?Report

        • Boegiboe in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Jaybird, no, because they did continue to work within the system of rules and expectations of their church. An organization is not equivalent to its rules and regulations; it is what its members make of it within those rules and regs.

          To say that anyone who successfully lobbies to pass a controversial law is splitting the United States of America goes a bit far, don’t you think? Yet that is precisely equivalent to your implication that those who lobbied for change in the Episcopal Church, and won it according to the rules that allow change in the church, were the ones who split the church.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Boegiboe says:

            @Boegiboe, not exactly… it’s that those who changed the rules ended up calling those who didn’t want to change the rules “splitters”.

            As if they split off to go and do their own thing.

            No, not exactly. They were going to do the same thing they were doing yesterday.

            My problem is *NOT* that organizations evolve. Heaven forbid!

            My problem is that the organizations evolve and the folks who, inevitably, don’t want to evolve are not only called conservatives, against change, etc… but also “splitters”.

            The initiation of movement was not made by those “splitting”.Report

    • Trumwill in reply to Jaybird says:

      @Jaybird, yes! This is exactly what I was trying to say. And as an Episcopalian, it’s the example that really should have come to mind.

      (I am on the liberal/High side of the church, but I am a believer that TEC must tread carefully in order to avoid losing thReport

    • Koz in reply to Jaybird says:

      This is an interesting example but it’s worth mentioning that the Anglican communion has lines of leadership but the exact nature of episcopal authority is nebulous. In fact there were a bunch of cases being litigated over this very fight and they’re probably still going. This is especially topical in America (relative to the UK) where the secular authority has historically left the Episcopal church to its own devices.Report

  4. cfpete says:

    I don’t know how exactly, but I think Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman pretty much encapsulates what I think of the “Culture War.”
    Things can of course be reversed, but just a very timely example.

    The esteemed Professor Krugman:
    A note to Tea Party activists: This is not the movie you think it is. You probably imagine that you’re starring in “The Birth of a Nation,” but you’re actually just extras in a remake of “Citizen Kane.”

    I would link to the op/ed, but there is really no reason. That pretty much encapsulates the “Culture War.” Nuclear Armageddon where people live to fight another day.Report

  5. Andy Smith says:

    @Jaybird: “We had two groups of folks.

    This one was changing.
    That one was doing the same thing it did yesterday.

    The one that was “splitting the church” ought to have been the one that was changing, no? Not the one that said “nope, we’re just going to keep doing the same thing as yesterday.”

    If the current in the stream picks up, or changes direction, and one boat goes with the flow, while the other rows frantically against the current in order to stay in the same place, who’s the splitter?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Andy Smith says:

      @Andy Smith, that’s the discussion, isn’t it?

      This is, I suppose, why it’s so important to win… you can write the history and explain, in detail, how your side was doing the natural thing while the other side was trying to break off and ruin the wonderful consensus we had built.Report

      • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Jaybird says:


        Which side won the Reformation?

        It’s a snide question, but I’ve got a serious point. As an outsider, the idea that church unity is important just strikes me as laughable, what with the proliferation of Christian sects out there. Whatever could have been lost in terms of continuity already has been. Even for Catholics, I’d say.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

          @Jason Kuznicki, the Progressives, naturally.

          They usually end up winning.

          (Seriously, talk to any Catholic about the 95 Theses and they’ll say that, yeah, 90ish of them totally had merit and ought to have been instituted sooner.)

          And don’t get me started on Vatican II.Report

        • @Jason Kuznicki, I think this would be true if religion were simply a matter of spiritual/philosophical belief, but as a practical matter, it’s not. I am functionally an Episcopalian though spiritually pretty agnostic. What happens to the Episcopal Church as an institution and as a culture matters a good deal to me. I support the church when it bends in my direction and I object when it bends in the other. But I am also mindful of the fact that if the church that helped raise me is to survive, it can’t indefinitely fragment. It requires a degree of unity as an institution.

          There is no end to the number of ways it can fragment and I can still find one that I am not ideologically satisfied with. High Church vs Low Church, liberal versus conservative, Canterbury Primacy or not. The more ways a church splits, the less ability individual members have to deviate from the church’s norms. The Episcopal Church in particular has been good to me in this regard. I am really concerned that it splits into various fragments among which I have no home.Report

  6. MFarmer says:

    I can’t believe I’m the only one who thinks this post is hyperbolic and ignorant of all the ways the left has attacked the right through the years. The author assumes her position is correct, therefore all criticism of her position is an attack from the right. I grew up in the sixties, too, and the military/industrial complex was what a lot of us fought against — State power, even if it was defended by Democrats in Chicago — and now the status quo is even more powerful, more entrenched in coercive State power, and indefensible. The right has been moving away from cultural issues for years — there are no more Jerry Falwells and Pat Robinsons, just a lot of people who want government to leave them alone and quit spending all the wealth — the left is invested in dregging up the culture war, because they have no economic answers — and it is the left in power dragging us further into war and nation-building, spreading something to backwards people, I don’t know what.Report

    • gregiank in reply to MFarmer says:

      @MFarmer, Sen Jim DeMint
      “People are beginning to see that there’s no way we can pay the interest on our debt and every week, we’re borrowing money to pay the debt we have and are creating new programs that are costing more money,” he said. “Hopefully in 2012, we’ll make headway to repeal some of the things we’ve done, because politics only works when we’re realigned with our Savior.”

      DeMint said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn’t be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn’t be in the classroom. “(When I said those things,) no one came to my defense,” he said. “But everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldn’t back down. They don’t want government purging their rights and their freedom to religion.”Report

      • Trumwill in reply to gregiank says:

        @gregiank, you beat me to it. DeMint is the first person that came to mind after reading Mr. Farmer’s comment. Though I find the second point about teachers to be more on-point. The first part about aligning tax-and-spend policy “with our savior” is silly, too, but in a different way.Report

      • MFarmer in reply to gregiank says:

        Jim DeMint doesn’t represent the right, only a faction, just as no one person on the left represents the left. Coming up with an exception doesn’t denigrate the fact that the right has been moving away from social issues, especially using government power to change people’s behavior — that’s the goal of many on the left though.Report

        • JosephFM in reply to MFarmer says:

          I’d say he represents the faction of the right with the most power, and the faction most likely to gain more of it in the upcoming election.

          Moreover, his economic views are aligned with yours (though not as he imagines with Jesus), and he is, indeed, better known for them, which is why this reminder of his social stance in important.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to MFarmer says:

      @MFarmer, Ah, sort of. I don’t know, I agree with you about the left actually- part of what she’s responding to was a post in which I was admitting some nostalgia for the hell-raising anarchic spirit of the 60s/70s left and its willingness to play an offensive (as opposed to defensive) role in the culture wars. Certainly their attacks on the military/industrial complex and state power were what I was thinking of, but there was also a cultural radicalism that, as far as I can tell, has vanished completely. Maybe they bought into the system.

      I also disagree that the right has moved away from cultural issues, and I don’t think they want to; but nor do I think the left really wants to. Culture matters. In my life, anyway, I’d say it’s had a much stronger impact than “socio-economic forces” ever did. It’s worth fighting for- actually, it’s better to fight issues out in the culture than in the courts. I just wish more people would fight the culture wars as if they mattered.

      As for the wars, I agree about 50%- I don’t really think the left is dragging us screaming into more war, but the Democratic establishment is certainly in no hurry to drag the country out of war either. I don’t know where the anti-war movement is now, but I’ve been wondering that since the start of the second Bush term.Report

      • MFarmer in reply to Rufus F. says:

        @Rufus F.,
        Yes, many social conservatives are standing up for their beliefs, but the right as a whole is not pushing for policy to change values. It’s one thing to state and defend your cultural values in the market of ideas — it’s another to force them on others — the left is doing all the forcing right now.Report

        • MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

          Also I believe that if it was put to vote whether to wrap up quickly and bring the troops home or continue in the directon we’re going, most people, after giving it serious thought and if they thought their vote could help make it happen, would vote to bring the troops home.Report

        • North in reply to MFarmer says:

          @MFarmer, Oh come on Mike the right has abandoned the culture wars? In what universe?
          Intelligent design is being mandated by right wing school boards, anti-SSM initiatives have been pushed even in states where SSM hasn’t been judicially mandated or even in states where SSM (or merely civil unions) have been legislatively enacted, the perennial activity of the pro-life movement; the mounded laws going this way and that on stem cell development? Does any of this sound familiar? It’s all the right pushing for policy to be used to enforce right wing values.

          Now lord knows the left is on the assault on other (and sometimes the same!) subjects but to try and claim that one side is merely fighting defensively is a real knee slapper. Sure the right wing as a whole has backed off a lot of subjects, primarily because they’ve lost and further advocacy would hurt them with voters. But just because the right has recognized that sticking their hands in certain fires burns them doesn’t mean that they’ve abandoned their project of saving people’s souls whether the people in question want them to or not.Report

          • MFarmer in reply to North says:

            I said they are moving away from social issues, not completely removed from social issues — The Pledge to America was not a social issues pledge, and candidates are running on economic issues, and the Religious Right doesn’t have near the political power it had a decade ago. There is even a lot of talk among the right to drop social issues — so the momentum is away from social issues, and has been for a awhile.Report

            • MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

              From the NYT:

              But Mr. Cornyn, who has been on the receiving end of anti-establishment anger, argued that the Tea Party had helped Republicans in one important respect, by moving the debate away from social issues. While Tea Party supporters tend to be socially conservative on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, most say they don’t want to talk about them; they believe that by spending so much time on those issues, the Republican Party failed to focus on fiscal conservatism.

              While social issues tend to be polarizing, Republicans can win on economic issues, Mr. Cornyn said, because the Democrats have been in charge as the economy has gone south.

              “As I’ve traveled,” he said, “I’ve talked to a lot of folks who are basically independents who say: I’m fine with the Republicans as long as we’re talking about fiscal responsibility. Where I go off the reservation is when you talk about social issues.”Report

            • North in reply to MFarmer says:

              @MFarmer, Well sure Mike, but the Tea Party remains a sort of right wing Rorschach test. Social conservatives look at it and see the faithful rising up to reclaim the country. Economic conservatives look at it and see small government voters finally asserting themselves. GOP stalwarts look at it and see a right wing net roots equivalent for the GOP. Neocons look at it and see a club to beat the peaceniks with.

              I imagine we’ll probably have to wait until the election of some tea party candidates and some actual governing decisions to see which parts of the conflicting assertions coming from the tea party are real and which parts are smoke.

              I certainly hope your interpretation is the right one. It’d be charming to have some vehement libertarians running around DC.Report

          • Robert Cheeks in reply to North says:

            @North, I think Mike’s right…! The radical Left are the ones trying, desperately, to destroy traditional ethics and morals and always have been (see Glenn Beck’s ‘progressives’) with the desire to slaughter the next generation, ssm, messin’ with stem cells, Hitler’s idol, Margaret Sangor (can you say Tuskegee experiments), Algore’s wet dreams so beautifully expressed, and the Commie-Dem of all Commie-DEm’s, George Soros’s desire to take over the world.Report

      • JosephFM in reply to Rufus F. says:

        @Rufus F.,

        I don’t know where the anti-war movement is now, but I’ve been wondering that since the start of the second Bush term.

        Oh we’re still around, but since the opportunistic Democratic establishment abandoned us (and contrary to Mike, we’re not especially welcome on the Right or in the Tea Parties) it’s been hard to keep momentum going.

        Also, the actual crazy anarchists and Marxists have apparently moved on to advocating for illegal immigrants (if my Facebook feed is anything to go by)…Report

  7. Metamorf says:

    The bourgeoisie and their virtues are under assault from multiple sources on the Right. Culture Warrior ressentiment, and know-nothingism, and smug self-righteousness aren’t bourgeois virtues.

    Funny how the second sentence above undermines the first, but captures quite well the tone of “multiple sources” on the wing which has long been the source of contempt for “bourgeois virtues” — namely, the Left. Overall, it’s a sad and funny spectacle to see so many rapidly aging boomers now trying to cling desperately to ideas and beliefs that haven’t changed in half a century, even as time and the passing generations slowly roll over them, as it did their parents.Report

    • JosephFM in reply to Metamorf says:

      Actually, if you go back and read the post she was responding to, Rufus was actually arguing for a restoration of the radicalism of the old Boomer “new” left, and Nadezhda’s arguing against that.Report

      • Metamorf in reply to JosephFM says:

        Yes, I’d read Rufus’ post, Joseph, as well as Douthat’s NYTimes piece that Rufus was responding to. But as I read Rufus — and he can certainly correct me if I’m wrong — he was talking about the style, so to speak, of the 60’s, whereas Nadezhda was talking about the substance. In any case, it’s that substance — which has now become the substance of a brittle, defensive, small-c conservatism, even though the label still says “liberal” — which I find ironic and sad. Much has changed in the world since the 60’s, and not just in hair-styles — but too many boomers haven’t.

        On the topic of political labels, here’s a more extended version of my take.Report

        • Rufus in reply to Metamorf says:

          @Metamorf, Yeah, that’s kind of it. I guess it’s that she is talking about the accomplishments of the 60s left and I’m talking about the things that weren’t accomplished and ultimately got abandoned as ‘unrealistic’, which sort of makes them intrinsically interesting to me.Report

        • JosephFM in reply to Metamorf says:

          Well, I would disagree that that substance has in fact not changed, mostly because I don’t believe what they lost was only style.Report

  8. Robert Cheeks says:

    Please Metamorf, you don’t know your asshole from you eyeball.Report

  9. MFarmer says:

    I think it’s critical to keep the focus on the economy and the two wars.
    Social issues are polarizing and the government is not the arena to work out these differences. Plus no sweeping social legislaton is going to pass. The nation will have to deal with its soul as individuals talk with one another and people find their way throgh the maze of life-style changes and so forth, but the economic situation will make it all irrelevant if the nation collapses financially. Many on the right are realizing this, and it is resonating with independents — the independents don’t want to be told who they can marry or what they can eat — they want a vibrant economy and good jobs. And I beleive in the next year the two wars are going to be very, very unpopular.Report

    • Dave in reply to MFarmer says:


      Plus no sweeping social legislaton is going to pass.

      One reason I wouldn’t expect to see that happen is that with many hot button social issues (abortion, religion in the public square, morals legislation, etc.), the courts have already spoken for them.

      For what it’s worth, when I hear conservatives speaking of the “restoration of constitutional values”, I don’t think limiting government to its enumerated powers is what they have in mind, especially when people start talking about the Tenth Amendment and, as one commenter did here some time ago in the same-sex marriage discussions, the “right to self govern”. No such right exists.

      They may not be as politically powerful but it’s still there. Just saying.Report

      • Robert Cheeks in reply to Dave says:

        @Dave, In whaat sense do you mean ” “right to self govern”. In terms of the federal gummint or the state gummint or in any gummint?Report

      • MFarmer in reply to Dave says:

        We don’t have the right to self govern as long as we are not violating the right of others to self govern?Report

      • MFarmer in reply to Dave says:

        Yes, Dave, no matter what the right does, it will be for nefarious purposes. Argument closed — there can never be any change, it’s over – the left is enlightened, the right is evil — let’s move on accordingly.Report

        • Dave in reply to MFarmer says:


          Does this mean I can’t skewer liberals for their perverted views of the Constitution, especially their use of “I don’t see a right to X”?

          I know. General welfare. Case closed. I’ll move on now.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Dave says:

            @Dave, don’t overlook the commerce clause.Report

          • gregiank in reply to Dave says:

            @Dave, oh don’t worry, we liberals know we are wrong about the constitution and our views have no merit. We just pretend we have ideas to piss off conservatives. I mean, come on, be real, who in their right mind would disagree with the True Understanding of the Constitution as passed down by conservatives and the Holy Monks of the Constitution, Libertarians.Report

  10. Powkat says:

    I agree it is a rear guard action. I am a boomer and it is primarily my generation and older who are have been pushing back against change for the last 40 years. Take the age gap on gay marriage – under 40 has no problem; over 60 massively opposed.

    I remember being told that I would get more conservative as I got older, had children, etc. Not true – if anything I am more passionate about making a better world, because this one is for my children and grandchildren.Report

  11. Keri says:

    The conforming Fifties are only half the equation. The other half is that Baby Boomers were taught that Americans were great and they saved the world, and America is the Land of the Free and the land of milk and honey. And then those Baby Boomers discovered that American was the Land of Racism and Segregation and Bigotry. So it wasn’t just that they rebelled against the conformity of the Fifties, they also rebelled against the imperfections they viewed in America society, imperfections they were told didn’t exist. Those young people recognized that America COULDN’T be the Land of the Free so long as blacks and Latinos and women (and to a lesser extent, gays) were institutionally oppressed.Report

  12. Don says:

    I am opposed to immigration “reform” (amnesty). This country is overpopulated, and 21 million Americans are out of work.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Don says:


      Why stop there? Obviously we should deport 21 million Americans who currently have jobs. Then give their jobs to the unemployed.

      That’ll fix the problem.Report