Why Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Aren’t Fighting the Culture Wars by D. Linker

Why Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Aren’t Fighting the Culture Wars by D Linker

(Link): Why Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Aren’t Fighting the Culture Wars by D Linker


Sept 2016

by D. Linker

The most momentous thing about Monday night’s presidential debate wasn’t anything Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton said. It’s what they didn’t say.

Not a word was spoken about abortion, same-sex marriage, religious freedom, “family values,” or any other issue championed by the religious right over the past few decades.

True, those issues didn’t fit naturally with the economic, race, and national security topics on the agenda Monday night.

But in previous presidential contests, that wouldn’t have stopped the Republican nominee from inserting a comment somewhere about protecting unborn life or the importance of traditional families. On Monday night, we heard nothing about that from the debate stage — and the silence was deafening.

The culture war is over, the liberals won, and the victory was so decisive that the Republican nominee for president doesn’t even try to deny it. He just talks about other things, and hardly anyone (least of all the very voters who once demanded that presidential aspirants demonstrate fealty to the religious right) notices or cares.

….Once Ronald Reagan won the White House and the modern-day Republican electoral coalition coalesced, with millions of evangelical Protestant voters (who as recently as 1976 had thrown their support to Democrat Jimmy Carter) joining the GOP, the issues and rhetoric surrounding cultural questions had shifted in the direction of traditional morality and religiosity. The cultural war had become a battle against the sexual revolution waged in the name of faith.

…Abortion rights were of foremost importance, but other issues also galvanized the ascendant religious right, including the rise of divorce and illegitimacy, the mainstreaming of homosexuality, the growing prevalence of pornography and an openly sexualized popular culture…

That’s the culture war that was completely absent from Monday night’s debate. There are several overlapping reasons for its demise:

  • As with vast, expensive military campaigns for democratization, the culture war was discredited by its association with the ineptitude of George W. Bush’s presidency.
  • The increasing secularization of the electorate, especially among millennials, has meant that fewer and fewer voters are animated by the issues that drove an older generation to the polls.
  • The rout in the fight against same-sex marriage has been so decisive that even many who remain nominally committed to the religious right’s agenda feel thoroughly demoralized and dejected.
  • Donald Trump’s stunning electoral success has demonstrated to all not only that a thrice-married philanderer who displays no religious piety whatsoever can win the GOP nomination, but also that he can then receive the support of roughly 94 percent of white evangelical Republicans in the general election.

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