The Culture War is a Leftist Offensive
I am not in agreement with all opinions of this author on other subjects, but on this one, yes, I sure am.
Republicans and conservatives used to participate in the Culture Wars (I’ve spoken out against this in older posts on this blog, such as this one or this one from 2013),
but in the last few years, it’s been the left, the liberals, and the Democrats, and the “Never Trump” Republicans who have been initiating and perpetuating the Culture Wars in the United States – but they keep acting as though the evangelicals, the Trump voters, conservatives, or Republicans, are behind the Culture Wars.
Democrats have become more extreme on social issues, and they aren’t prepared for the backlash.
July 8, 2021
by Peggy Noonan
The word now is radicalized. So many people feel pushed to the edge and are pushing back. Go to social-media sites and search “school board meeting” adding descriptors like “explosive,” “outrage” and “chaos.” Parents are rising up. New York Democrats just picked an anticrime former cop as their mayoral nominee.
Other signs that suggests a spirit of having been radicalized: Longtime alliances based on natural affinity are loosening.
Conservatives by nature support and respect the military. That’s changing among some of them, or at least becoming less reflexive, under the pressure of changes of political correctness and a woke brass.
… There’s a sense in America of a continuing political realignment, that it didn’t all start and end in 2015-2016.
I think that what happened last summer, when the streets erupted and statues toppled, is being answered now with a pushback – a quieter one but no less consequential.
…. [Author Kevin Drum wrote a recent editorial on his blog.]
He titled the piece bluntly: “If you hate culture wars, blame liberals.”
“It is not conservatives who have turned American politics into a culture war battle,” he writes. “Since roughly the year 2000, according to survey data, Democrats have moved significantly to the left on most hot button social issues, while Republicans have moved only slightly right.”
He cites data on issue from abortion and religion to guns, same-sex marriage, immigration and taxes. The numbers suggest “the obvious conclusion that over the past two decades Democrats have moved left far more than Republicans have moved right.” He’s not personally unhappy with this, but Democrats should be concerned they’re moving further away from median voters.
He refers to the work of David Shor, “a data geek who identifies as a socialist but is rigorously honest about what the numbers tell us.” Mr. Shor told New York magazine a few months ago that Democrats in 2020 gained roughly 7 points among white college-educated voters. Support among blacks declined by a point or two, and Hispanic support dropped by 8 or 9. This followed last summer’s defund-the-police movement. The Democrats had, in Mr. Shor’s words, “raised the salience of an ideologically charged issue that millions of nonwhite voters disagreed with us on.”
In the past four years, Mr. Shor said, “white liberals have become a larger and larger share of the Democratic Party.”
But whites are “sorting on ideology” more than nonwhite voters. “We’ve ended up in a situation where white liberals are more left wing than Black and Hispanic Democrats on pretty much every issue: taxes, health care, policing, and even on racial issues or various measures of ‘racial resentment.'”
“Black conservatives and Hispanic conservatives,” Mr. Shor notes, “don’t actually buy into a lot of these intellectual theories of racism. They often have a very different conception of how to help the Black or Hispanic community than liberals do.”
His conclusion: “If we polarize the electorate on ideology – or if nationally prominent Democrats raise the salience of issues that that polarize the electorate on ideology – we’re going to lose a lot of votes.”
Mr. Drum agrees: However those on the left about the Democrats’ “leftward march,” the party “has been pulled far enough left that even lots of non-crazy people find us just plain scary . . . Democrats have stoked the culture wars by getting more extreme on social issues and Republicans have used this to successfully cleave away a segment of both the non-college white vote and, more recently, the non-college non-white vote.”
Why, then, is it still conventional wisdom on the left and in the mainstream media that it is conservatives who are culture warmongers? Because “for most people, losing something is far more painful than the pleasure of gaining something of equivalent value. And since conservatives are ‘losing’ the customs and hierarchies that they’ve lone lived with, their reaction is far more intense than the liberal reaction toward winning the changes they desire.”
Mr. Drum speculates that “the whole woke movement in general” has turned off many moderate voters. “Ditto for liberal dismissal of crime and safety issues.”
The white activist class won’t like hearing this, he says, but moving to the left, while galvanizing the progressive base, “risks outrunning the vast middle part of the country, which progressive activists seem completely uninterested in talking to.”
He ends: “And for God’s sake, please don’t insult my intelligence by pretending that wokeness and cancel culture are all just figments of the conservative imagination. Sure, they overreact to this stuff, but it really exists, it really is a liberal invention, and it really does make even moderate conservatives feel like their entire lives are being held up to a spotlight and found wanting.”
….The cultural provocations that are currently tearing us apart do, certainly and obviously, come from progressives. And the left seems to have no prudent fear of backlash. They don’t seem to believe public opinion counts for much anymore.
…. I end with what I think is the left’s misreading of its position.
…. I think the left is overplaying its hand.