Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The State Of The Culture War

Bill Scher recently wrote an article for Politico about how Republicans allegedly have lost the culture war. Here's a reply by David Harsanyi that makes some good points.


  1. Cliff's Notes version

    Bill Scher: Republicans have lost the culture war on same-sex marriage, birth control, and abortion."

    David Harsanyi: "Actually we've just stagnated on abortion. So ha!"

    1. Jonathan,

      Harsanyi says a lot about abortion that you aren't addressing. And the significance of stagnant polling depends on where it stagnated. See here. I don't know how you would justify the conclusion that the culture war on abortion has been lost by the pro-life side. And though Harsanyi focuses on abortion, it's not the only point where he differs from Scher. His opening and closing paragraphs suggest that there's more involved in the culture war than Scher addresses, and the closing paragraph emphasizes how shallow liberalism's recent victories have been on issues like birth control and sexism. He concludes by referring to how Scher's article depends on "a lot of wishful thinking".

    2. Jason,

      I know Harsanyi says a lot I didn't address in my two sentence summary. However, I did think it was a funny sort of response to Scher to try and focus on that one issue... even though it's not clear we are "winning" on this issue. Yes, we've won some victories here and there on Abortion. And I don't mean to devalue those victories. But winning specific battles is not the same as winning the war and its far from clear that conservatives are winning the war on this issue.... And it's obvious we've lost/are losing on many others.

    3. Jonathan,

      What you're saying now is different than what you said earlier, and it's much different than what Scher said. Harsanyi was responding to Scher, who made many ridiculous claims in his article (both on broader issues and on details). Scher didn't just refer to "many issues", "losing", etc. Rather, he referred to the culture war as a whole, how it supposedly was already lost by conservatives, and he even referred to how it allegedly had been lost by a wide margin. That's absurd. Harsanyi focused on abortion in his response, but he briefly referred to the inadequacy of Scher's treatment of other issues as well.

      I've posted a lot about cultural issues over the years, how corrupt the American people are, how poorly they manage their time, how false their priorities are, how badly conservatives have handled the same-sex marriage issue, etc. But there have been some good developments as well, far better developments than Scher suggests and far better than your initial response to Scher and Harsanyi suggested. America is more pro-life than pro-choice. Liberals have repeatedly lost recent battles, and are losing the war, on issues Scher didn't address (guns, some gender issues, etc.). One of the reasons why we keep hearing about liberal innovations in states like California and New York is that the liberal positions in question are currently not only minority views, but even small minority views. Whether they'll be significantly more successful in the future remains to be seen, and probably will vary from issue to issue, but much of what liberalism stands for remains highly unpopular.

      Even when liberals are more successful, you have to ask why. Is the culture agreeing with them or just granting what liberals want on an issue that most people don't have much concern about? Is the culture partially agreeing while partially disagreeing? Is it more a matter of libertarianism than liberalism?

      It's important that we not be overly optimistic, but it's also important that we not be overly pessimistic. Scher overplayed his hand, grossly.