Monday, November 10, 2008

Is the Culture War Over? Did it ever begin?

One of the reasons that Sarah Palin was chosen to be John McCain's running mate was because of her cultural values. A social conservative, Palin helped McCain bring the GOP base together. For a week, it looked like Palin was the perfect pick.

But then Lehman Brothers went under and the credit crunch got rolling... and the voting public became very worried about the economy. The economy was always the biggest issue during the 2008 election, and pretty much every issue (the War on Iraq, energy policy, education) was all put on the back burner. And cultural issues, which weren't a big issue during the summer, became a complete non-factor.

Why? Because people don't care as much about gay marriage, abortion, and school prayer when they're not sure where their next pay check is coming from.

What about Proposition 8 in California? True, cultural issues still exist, but when it comes to voting for a President or Senator or Representative or any elected office, the candidates cultural views do not matter as much as the media and social conservatives (and some social liberals) would like us to believe. If voters did care as much about cultural issues as some would like us to believe, Obama would not have won Califorinia.

And here in lies the problem with the Republican party today—they have lost their way obsessing over cultural issues. True, it delivered back-to-back Presidential victories for Geroge W. Bush (barely), but the fact that the Republicans barely won should have been a sign that as a policy issue, it is a fickle issue. An issue that matters only when things are going very well economically, and even then that's debateable. The cultural divide that we hear so much about actually isn't that deep.

Poll after poll, focus group after focus group show that the vast majority of Americans -- the Silent Majority, perhaps? -- are pragmatic, independent and un-partisan in their basic views. They are eclectic: "liberal" on some matters, "conservative" on others. They are not slaves to that hobgoblin of small minds, consistency. On fundamental matters such as belief in equality for women and minorities, or how large a role religion and family play in individuals' lives, the consensus among voters is broad. Unlike other times in U.S. history, there simply are no issues such as slavery, Prohibition or Vietnam that inspire violent protest or social disruption.
However, no matter what, God has made his decision and therefore social conservatives just have to have faith that it was the right one.

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