It has been said often that the American generation of the 1960s started the ‘culture wars’ that led the country to among the most angriest left-right political debates of any western democracy. The political divide among the Republicans and Democrats is far and wide on social issues, even if they largely agree on foreign policy and economic issues.
Barack Obama said he was going to get over that, and this is one of the reasons why many conservatives like Andrew Sullivan crossed over to his side. McCain too was seen as a ‘maverick’ who opposed his party frequently and together they would conduct a civil and serious election that wouldn’t be characterised by mud-slinging. I called bullshit on that months ago.
And now Sarah Palin’s pick as possible vice president ensures the culture wars are back because even if she doesn’t rally angry Hillary Clinton supporters, she will certainly rally the traditional Christian evangelical Republican base. Don’t even get me started on what a nutjob Palin is.
Over at Socialist Unity, Andy Newman’s response to this is:
Although it is tempting for liberals and progressives to attack Palin for her socially conservative views, this is playing into the trap set by the Republicans. The trick is to keep talking about the economy, Americaâ€™s oil dependency, social welfare and the war in Iraq.
On one hand he’s right – by giving into the issues Republicans love, Democrats / progressives are accepting that these issues are important, when actually they’re not as important as people dying of poverty or through wars.
BUT. This also betrays a problem with those on the liberal-left – they hate playing social issue politics. They would much rather focus on substantive issues like the economy and healthcare. I think this is a losing strategy. Social issues matter and there’s no doubt that people are interested and influenced by them. The reason why Democrats have largely stayed out of power since the 1960s is because they were bad at fighting the culture wars. Thanks to that, they’ve ended up in a situation where Christian evangelicals hold serious sway in an election; abortion rights are constantly under attack; and they keep losing elections.
Did I mention they keep losing elections? I think I did. The bottom line is – its time for Democrats, and the left in general, to learn how to fight and win the culture wars. Attacking Palin as a religious nut might annoy the hell out of the Republican base, but they’re not the majority of the country. It will rouse the Democrat base and also bring over the Independents – who are the ones deciding the election. Attack, attack, attack. Enough of the flaffing around.
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Filed in: Culture,Current affairs,Election News,United States