Does Culture Trump Politics?

Mark Steyn says: “. You can’t have conservative government in a liberal culture, and that’s the position the Republican party is in.”

Is the “liberal” the correct word to describe our culture today? We certainly couldn’t describe as a conservative culture, could we? Remember when in movies when a man and a woman were getting hot and bothered on a bed, the male actor had to keep one foot on the floor. Remember when four letter words were taboo in radio or television? Young people today would laugh out loud at the morals and mores of the 50’s. And, God? Don’t be silly.

Steyn uses todays attitudes on sexual orientation to make his point as he notes on Facebook profiles that people have dozens of gender options to choose from. He reminds us that 28 years ago (not that long ago) a Supreme Court Justice wrote a majority opinion stating  “there is no such thing as a fundamental right to commit homosexual sodomy”. Can you imagine the Supreme Court making such a ruling today? In the world of jurisprudence nothing has changed in those 28 years except for the culture. Steyn is not very optimistic that conservatives can change the direction of America via the ballot box because we are always playing catch-up to the cultural changes that are taking place so rapidly. He writes:

 Liberals expend tremendous effort changing the culture. Conservatives expend tremendous effort changing elected officials every other November — and then are surprised that it doesn’t make much difference. Culture trumps politics — which is why, once the question’s been settled culturally, conservatives are reduced to playing catch-up, twisting themselves into pretzels to explain (including in the pages of this magazine) why gay marriage is really conservative after all, or why 30 million unskilled immigrants with a majority of births out of wedlock are “natural allies” of the Republican party.

Is Mark Steyn right? Has he painted an accurate picture of the dilemma we conservatives find ourselves in? I think he has. The liberals declared war on the American culture 100 years ago. I don’t know for sure when we lost that war; but my guess is that the turning point was sometime during LBJ’s Great Society push.

So, what are America’s conservatives to do? Throw in the towel? Of course not! We have to fight to keep what little ground we still have for as long as we can. I don’t know that Pandora’s demons can ever be put back in her box. About the only thing I am sure of is that the world-wide debt bubble,  now at a record $100 trillion, will burst wide open one of these days and America’s and every other nation’s house of cards will collapse. Maybe America’s conservatives should focus their energy on positioning themselves to lead the re-building process.

Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

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16 thoughts on “Does Culture Trump Politics?

    1. AZ,

      Are you sure? Culture absolutely influences our politicians actions, which is derived from their ideology. Taken further, policy shapes our economy whether it be good or bad. Looks like rock, paper, scissors to me.

  1. I think Mark Steyn is right on and that is the problem we face today. The culture is changing, whether we like it or not, and as Republicans cling to the past they are becoming more and more irrelevant. What can we do about this? I don’t have the answer.

  2. I have to agree with Steyn. Conservatism, for whatever reasons, is unable to keep up. We’re reached that point. 😦

    Even in homeschool groups, generally regarded as bastions of conservatism, the culture has wrought incredible damage. I’m finding it more and more difficult to deal with the “right-brained” set of parents that now dominates the homeschool groups. Just yesterday, I had a major blowout with my supervisor. I won’t go into the details, but I know that I’m seeing the results of the present culture, i.e., this constant worrying about students’ self esteem if the students fall short of the standards set.

  3. Jim: Steyn is basically correct. We are all products of our culture, and our traditional American culture has been drifting towards the lazy, freebie set for some time. Sure, we need to help the poor, but what we see, now, is abject advocation of Marxism.

    My particular brand of conservative, as you probably remember, is more of a fiscal conservative and somewhat socially liberal. My views are almost libertarian.

    One of the things I resent is this continuing left/right set of designators we are using for political philosophy. There is a guy named Jerry Pournell who came up with additional qualifications for different groups.

    Instead of just a left to right axis, he throws in a vertical “Y” axis. You can read about this construct on Wikipedia.

    It is not totally explanatory, but it does give us the ability to make a more accurate description. However, it does not cover low information morons so often seen on the left side of our current chart.

    1. We are acustumed to using lables and, as you point out, they are often not accurate. Yet some how people understand what each other are trying to communicate. I’m not sure that Pournelle’s chart would improve our communication skills or result in more confusion.

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