The left has been rather concerned about the culture war lately. Over the past two years, it appears high-profile progressives and left-leaning activist media outlets have been complaining about the existence of the cultural conflict America is currently experiencing. While this has been a topic of discussion for decades, more attention has recently been directed toward the societal issue. But what is it about this time period that has motivated the left to focus on it so strongly?
During a Friday appearance on MSNBC’s Chris Jansing Reports, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten argued that the “culture wars” began when state governments passed laws regarding problematic material taught in K-12 classrooms. She claimed these measures were “ripping America apart.”
She said, “I used to tease that anybody who said really stupid things about education just spend five minutes in a classroom.” Weingarten expanded, complaining that Texas “is where they ban books and stop kids from talking about, you know, who they are, and their sexuality.”
The teachers union president ended by lamenting the fact that education has become a part of the culture war, saying:
“What’s really happening is that you have these cultural wars that are just ripping America apart. instead of giving the teachers of the country the support that they need to do the work we have to do to reduce anxiety, to create a welcoming, safe environment and give kids hope.”
Author Zack Stanton wrote an article for Politico titled “How the ‘Culture War’ Could Break Democracy,” in which he interviewed James Davison Hunter, who wrote a widely popular book in 1991 titled Culture Wars.
In the article, Stanton appears to pin the blame for the conflict primarily on the right. Hunter only briefly mentions how progressives are contributing to the situation. “Democracy, in my view, is an agreement that we will not kill each other over our differences, but instead we’ll talk through those differences. And part of what’s troubling is that I’m beginning to see signs of the justification for violence,” Hunter said.
He continued, warning that “[c]ulture wars always precede shooting wars” and that while culture wars do not always necessarily end in physical violence, “you never have a shooting war without a culture war prior to it.”
In an op-ed written for NBC News, author Arick Wierson complained about the recent feud between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and the Disney Corporation. He noted that it signaled the end of the friendly relationship between the Republican Party and big business. He wrote:
“Thankfully, CEOs are finally waking up and realizing that the Republican Party is not their friend anymore. The cultural zealots that have hijacked much of the GOP are pushing America to the precipice of the biggest political realignment in nearly 100 years. It’s one where corporate America’s strategic interests — keeping their paying customers and workforce happy — will begin to align more closely with Democrats than Republicans, marking a seismic shift in the political landscape.”
Last, but not least, Paul Waldman, a columnist for a notable Washington newspaper, wrote an op-ed in which he claimed the right is still losing the culture war. “If you knew nothing about history and were dropped into this political moment, you’d think that the culture war, especially around gender and sexuality, was nothing but a winner for the American right,” Waldman wrote. “Given how aggressive Republicans are about it — in the media, in legislation and in the courts — surely their values must dominate our society, with public opinion firmly on their side.”
He then added: “In fact, the opposite is true: The entire history of the culture war is one of conservative loss, retreat and retrenchment. That’s no less true today than it ever was, even as the political salience of the culture war waxes and wanes.” The columnist went on to quote data showing 68% of Americans support same-sex marriage and 79% oppose discriminating against members of the LGBTQ community on the basis of their sexuality. “In every case, the liberal position has grown steadily more popular over time,” he gushed.
This particular remark leads us to why leftists are homing in on the culture war. The reality is that they are no longer as dominant in the culture as they once were. Their influence has started to wane, and they are beginning to take serious losses in the conflict. Even the issues Waldman points out are subjects about which most conservatives are no longer concerned.
There is no major movement on the right to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage, nor is there a push to allow discrimination on the basis of sexuality. The closest issue to what that columnist described is the debate over Masterpiece Bakery in Colorado, which is more of a free speech matter than one of discrimination.
Moreover, on the hot-button topics of the day, the right is winning. The effort to push far-left progressive ideology in K-12 classrooms has met with major backlash, and polling shows Americans aren’t too fond of the idea of their children being indoctrinated. For example, a poll conducted in late March showed that 61% of respondents – including Democrats – supported Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits instruction on sexuality and gender identity with children seven years old and younger. Even further, an Economist/YouGov poll conducted between May 15 and 17 found the majority of Americans do not hold a favorable view of Critical Race Theory (CRT).
To make matters worse, President Joe Biden’s approval ratings, along with those of his merry band of Democrats in Congress, have plummeted. As the late Andrew Breitbart once said, “politics is downstream of culture.”
The simple reality is that the left is fixated on the culture war because they are starting to lose. Americans are turned off by so-called progressive narratives on race, society, sexuality, and other issues. One of the reasons why conservatives have gained more ground in the culture is because the left appears to be doing its level best to push people away. By advocating for positions that most find odious, they are leaving behind the rest of the nation. The question is: Will they ever reverse course?
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