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Are The Culture Wars Over?

pat-buchanan-1992-republican-convention-speech

Bill Scher examines “How Republicans Lost the Culture War.” His lede is powerful:

On Aug. 17, 1992, Pat Buchanan and the Republican Party declared a “culture war … for the soul of America.” On Oct. 6, 2014, Republicans surrendered.

The “surrender” was last week’s decision by the Supreme Court not to review lower court rulings allowing same-sex marriage, effectively ending the fight over that issues. Scher is right:

We’ve come a long way since 2004, when Republicans went 11-0 on anti-gay marriage state ballot initiatives, and since 1996 when Democrats were defensively insisting they wanted abortion to be “rare.” Half of all Americans now live in states that allow same-sex marriage, with more on the way.

Which sets up the longer version of his title question:

How did the party of “the real America” get so utterly thumped in the culture war, a war of its own choosing? People will tell you the defeat is due to the “Rising American Electorate” of African-American, Latino, youth and single women voters, which made up nearly half of the 2012 turnout and voted 2-to-1 for Obama. But it’s not a mere matter of demographics shifting under the Republicans’ feet. The GOP sowed the seeds of its culture war demise with three big strategic blunders.

He goes on to detail three points, of which I’ll copy only the toplines here:

1. Republicans stopped being savvy on abortion.

2. Republicans got weird about birth control.

3. Republicans bet wrong on gay marriage.

The first two are undeniable. Essentially, as Northeastern, Midwestern, and Western moderates became marginalized in the party, the Southern cultural conservatives took over the issue framing. Whereas the former were true conservatives, fighting to preserve traditional cultural norms, the latter were radicals seeking to impose a puritanical set of policies with very little appeal on the country through the legislative process. They took Pat Buchanan’s call for a religious war, which struck most as madness when he thundered it at the convention, as a call to duty. And, like the apocryphal story about Pauline Kael, they didn’t know anyone who didn’t agree with them on these radical ideas, so thought they were appealing to the center.

The last, though, confuses outcome with cause. That is, being wrong on gay marriage is evidence that Republicans lost the culture wars, not the reason they lost. Scher’s analysis doesn’t really explain why:

After 2000, Bush political strategist Karl Rove fretted that 4 million Christian conservatives stayed home on Election Day. After 2003, many on the right were in a panic once the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court established equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians. In 2004, Republicans responded by spearheading ballot initiatives in 11 states banning same-sex marriage, including the swing states of Ohio and Michigan. Rove may not have masterminded it, but he told the Ohio media he believed the initiative would boost Republican turnout.

Republicans won the battle, but they soon lost the war. All 11 passed handily, and another seven passed in 2006. However, the mean-spirited anti-gay marriage campaign actually failed to increase Republican turnout, while alienating the younger generation of voters. American youth who had grown up treating gays equally soon propelled Barack Obama to the White House and invigorated the marriage cause. Ten years after that first round of anti-gay initiatives, same-sex marriage is on the verge of being legal in 60 percent of the country.

With a little more foresight and a little less bigotry, Republicans could have realized that misguided cultural attitudes toward gays would naturally diminish over time, and divined better ways to rally the conservative troops. There were plenty of signs that Republicans were on the wrong side of history. The vice president’s daughter was openly gay. The TV show “Will & Grace” was in its sixth season. Even Bush sensed that a hateful anti-gay stance could drive away swing voters: One week before Election Day, he expressed support for civil unions.

It was too little too late. Republicans never launched an organized push for civil unions as a way to compete for gay voters without alienating religious conservatives who wanted to cordon off marriage for heterosexuals. Such a stance would have been squarely in the ideological middle at the time: In the 2004 Election Day exit poll, 35 percent of Americans supported civil unions and another 25 percent supported equal marriage. Only 37 percent opposed all forms of legal recognition for same-sex couples. If Republicans hoped to draw a line at marriage, a firm civil-unions position was their best chance.

 

Tactically, that’s probably right. The culture had already changed significantly by 2004 and the GOP didn’t get it. Indeed, my own views on the issue had changed radically over the period since Buchanan’s speech at the 2004 elections. But to say that Republicans decided to pick a fight that they couldn’t win doesn’t answer the question of why it is they couldn’t.

I’m neither a sociologist nor a cultural anthropologist but my guess is that we’ve simply become a more rationally-based society. As we’ve become more educated, appeal to tradition and cries of “We’ve always done it this way!” are simply less persuasive. Ultimately, the arguments for excluding people from marrying others of the same sex were revealed to be provincial at best and simple bigotry at worst.

Rationalism was aided by emotionalism as well, as a popular culture stemming from Los Angeles and New York increasingly spotlighted gay characters—and, it turns out, gay performers—as decent human beings distinguishable from their fellows only by the sex partners they were hard-wired to be attracted to. “Will & Grace” went from being subversive to banal. Ellen DeGeneres’ historic lesbian kiss was shocking in 1997; four years later she was hosting the Emmys and a daytime talk show aimed at housewives.

National political campaigns are, at their heart, battles over culture. The culture wars aren’t over and will likely never be. But conservatives have lost the fights over racial and gender equality and most of the attempts to impose religiously-based values on the rest of society. Aside from perhaps immigration, which isn’t an issue that neatly divides along party lines, it’s not obvious what big cultural fights remain.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. The idea of a “culture war” is, I’ve always thought, kind of silly. Culture is a vast and complicated thing that is shaped by the individual choices and beliefs of millions of people, the idea that you can go to “war” to change it, or prevent it from changing, just seems silly to me. And trying to fight that war through politics just makes no sense at all in the end.

    Personally, it’s always seemed to me that the “culture war” idea was more a theme to keep the right wing, and especially the religious right wing, united and a way for the people who act as its spokespersons and activists to keep generating the contributions that keep them in business.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    But conservatives have lost the fights over racial and gender equality and most of the attempts to impose religiously-based values on the rest of society.

    HAAHAAHAAHAAHAAHAHAAHAAHAAHAAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAA… gasp wheeze gasp…. DOG DAM James! You trying to kill me here????

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  3. Mikey says:

    Who knew this would be appropriate again so soon?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. Moosebreath says:

    Sorry, but given the number of restrictions on abortion passed in the last few years, including the Texas restrictions which just went into effect, reducing the number of clinics performing abortions from 44 to 7 (all located in the 4 major metropolitan areas), the only possible response is no, the culture wars are not over.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 0

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I think the shocking thing has been the speed of the shift. Short of changes propelled by war, I’ve never witnessed this kind of societal about-face. I think the complete lack of even the thinnest argument in the anti-gay side combined with the multiplier effect of social media and of course Hollywood’s contribution made this just amazing really.

    Mean no longer sells, not with the younger generations. Their music may suck but these are better, kinder people than we were.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 3

  6. Mu says:

    @Moosebreath: the culture wars are not over.

    The war is not over, but the end is written on the wall. Think Germany in early 1944, yes, war production was at it’s all time high, but all that was left was a year of suicidal defenses.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. michael reynolds says:

    @Moosebreath:
    I put abortion in a somewhat different category. The Right has never had any rational reason at all to support their racism and homophobia. But although I am pro-choice I do believe there are genuinely troubling issues associated with the abortion issue.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 4

  8. PJ says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Sorry, but given the number of restrictions on abortion passed in the last few years, including the Texas restrictions which just went into effect, reducing the number of clinics performing abortions from 44 to 7 (all located in the 4 major metropolitan areas), the only possible response is no, the culture wars are not over.

    A woman living in Lubbock would have to drive at least 310 miles, one way, to get a clinic that performs abortions, then add that the law in Texas require an in-person consultation and after that a 24-hour waiting period. So, two round trips would be at least 1240 miles…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  9. gVOR08 says:

    You have to give proper weight to opportunism. Roe v Wade was not, initially, terribly controversial. It became so when the Jerry Falwells of the world realized they could raise a lot of money off it. The quote notes that for Karl Rove gay marriage was just a convenient way to get the right out to vote. None of this is anything the GOP establishment planned, or even cares about. The culture war just presented itself as a handy tool to keep the rubes on board.

    The current culture war issues will continue to be fought over at some declining level of activity. There’s still money to be made. I don’t know what the next issue will be, but I’m sure there will be one. The conservative psyche seems to need an enemy. And the GOPs continue to need something to run on other than their policy preferences and their record. I fear we see signs the next front may be anti-Islamic bigotry, e.g.Munchbox. I can’t tell you how much I really, really don’t want to go to war against a billion Muslims.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 0

  10. Moosebreath says:

    @Mu:

    “The war is not over, but the end is written on the wall.”

    I will disagree. The anti-abortion side is still on offense, not defense. They are passing new restrictions, not fighting to save the existing ones. There are no significant national Republicans who are pro-choice, not even moderate ones like Romney or Christie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  11. PAUL HOOSON says:

    The country strangely doesn’t seem real liberal in many areas, but has proven some tolerance for Gay equality, largely due to successful court decisions that set back many unconstitutional attempts to write antiGay language into state constitutions denying equal protection or rights to citizens where social conservatives went too far when they sought to legalize discrimination practices into law. – In other social areas, such as pornography and adult obscenity, some juries including even in Los Angeles in recent years, have still proven a willingness to convict some producers or sellers, where producers and sellers have to count on a reluctance of prosecutors to prosecute many cases or judges deciding in an orthodox interpretation of The Bill Of Rights, where freedom of expression is an absolute term, constitutionally protecting controversial speech. Some free speech pioneers such as comic Lenny Bruce often angered local Catholic Church officials in New York, where the church pressured local police to prosecute Bruce, where police would sit in the audience with tape recorders and arrest him after he would tell jokes church officials disliked about religion and sex. When he was in jail, social satire comic Mort Sahl would often fill in for Bruce. – If anything, it has been enlightened judges who have opened the door to more freedom of expression and improved rights for Gay Americans, where the public has only largely followed the lead of these judges once their reasoning for their decisions became known.

    I think many in the public remain somewhat socially conservative, where it has been the lead of enlightened judges to make a difference towards a more tolerant society. Enlightened judges deserve far more respect here, than the public at large, which only followed their leadership.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  12. superdestroyer says:

    Who cares? The culture wars are over because conservative politics is over. Instead of doing one more autopsy on conservative politics, why not focus on what the future hold. It is more likely that culture wars will be replaced with entitlement wars. AS the different demographic blocks inside the Democratic Party begin to fight over entitlements, the real question is will all of those non-whites, single women, and the young be willing to pay the level of taxes that will be required the level of services that those automatic Democratic Party voters demand. So far, the Democrats have been able to blame the Republicans and claim that the top few percent of the population will be the ones to pay taxes. However, as the U.S. becomes a one party state eventaully everyone is going to have to pay much higher taxes.

    Also, it is probably wrong to believe the culture wars are over. It would probably be more accurate to say that the next target of the social progressives has not been choose yet. I assume it will be either race-based reparations or the tax-exempt status of religion in the U.S.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 22

  13. Breschau says:

    conservatives have lost the fights over racial and gender equality

    Just out of curiosity – do conservatives ever get tired of being on the wrong side of these “fights”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  14. James Joyner says:

    @Breschau: The nature of culture is that it’s deeply rooted and seems to carry strong moral weight.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  15. stonetools says:

    Are the culture wars over? Nope. Too much money to be made by the grifters. Also too, the Republican Party can’t win on their central message of what’s good for the 1% is good for America, so they have to foment the culture war issues.They have to bundle tax cuts for the rich(unpopular)with “Let’s keep women, gays, and blacks in their place”(much more popular) in order to drive people to the polls.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 3

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Breschau: I’m still trying to figure out how James figures they lost those 2 “fights”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. Mu says:

    @Moosebreath: The fact that the Republicans haven’t seen the writing doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, only means that they are politically illiterate. Yes, they keep rallying the troops for temporary local victories, but that will not stop the tide that will sweep them away within a decade. They’re not going quietly into the night, but they are going, if kicking and screaming, into the permanent twilight of a 35% party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  18. As Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”.

    You can’t on one hand argue for reducing the influence of government over the individual and trumpet the cause of personal liberty while on the other hand call for the government to regulate the most intimate details of people’s lives.

    Such an incoherent message was doomed to failure from the beginning.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  19. superdestroyer says:

    @Breschau:

    Considering that progressives were in front of the Supreme Court in 2013 arguing that separate and unequal treatment by the government is not only legal but good government policy, I doubt the fight for equal rights is really over. Since the early 1970’s the fight has really been over special rights based on gender, race, or ethnicity and who gets them. What is amazing is the number of conservatives who want to surrender on this issue even though it will hurt the core voters of the Republican Party and reward the most powerful blocks inside the Democratic Party.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 19

  20. Mikey says:

    @superdestroyer:

    the tax-exempt status of religion in the U.S.

    When you’ve got stuff like this happening, the tax-exempt status of churches becomes fair game, does it not?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  21. superdestroyer says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    This is the best argument that almost no one ever makes. However, considering progressives are excited about using the tax codes to control where people live, what jobs they have, what they drive, where they go on vacation, and if they can even have kids, I doubt that conservatives are the only ones who are being hypocrites.

    So far, progressives have been civil libertarians on sex and drugs but not much else.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 20

  22. Breschau says:

    @James Joyner: Okay, I guess I can see that. But when the culture has been proven over and over again to be wrong on so many issues – how do you not get tired of defending a losing cause?

    I mean – this whole country was born out of something that was labeled a “Revolution”. Don’t conservatives realize where they would have stood on that issue if they had been around at the time?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  23. @Stormy Dragon:

    As Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”.

    And Stormy Dragon loses one point for not realizing Lincoln was quoting Mark 3:25.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: We have a black president in his second term. The favorite to succeed him—and the person he beat to become president in the first place—is a woman. Discrimination on the basis of race and sex have been illegal for decades. I’m not arguing that racism and sexism no longer exist, merely that the policy fights are essentially over.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Since the early 1970’s the fight has really been over special rights based on gender, race, or ethnicity and who gets them.

    Wow… sd finally admits that white Christian men have been receiving “special rights” all this time.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 2

  26. Moosebreath says:

    @Mu:

    “The fact that the Republicans haven’t seen the writing doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, only means that they are politically illiterate. Yes, they keep rallying the troops for temporary local victories, but that will not stop the tide that will sweep them away within a decade. They’re not going quietly into the night, but they are going, if kicking and screaming, into the permanent twilight of a 35% party.”

    Meh. The fact that not merely are the Republicans “not going quietly into the night”, but are still fighting and winning battles, is proof that the war is not over. To compare it to a real war, the general scholarly consensus is that after Gettysburg and Vicksburg, the Confederacy had no real chance to win. And yet there was a real war going on for the next 21 months, until the surrender at Appomattox.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  27. superdestroyer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    The Bakke decision was in 1979 when it was shown in court that the State of California had separate and unequal admission standards for blacks than for Asians and whites. As many conservative writers love to point out, one of the pieces of evidence was a rejection letter to an Asian female that stated that she had been added to their Asian wait list. When was the last time that conservative whites were in court arguing for separate and unequal treatment that was beneficial for whites only?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: Voter ID, abortion, birth control thru the ACA, black men getting killed at 21 times the rate of white men…

    And you think the policy fights are over? Lip service James. We talk a good game but what we have here is the equivalent of not saying “n*****r, n*****r, n*****r,” and instead saying things like “state’s rights” or “voter fraud” or “keep an aspirin between your knees”.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 4

  29. stonetools says:

    @Mu:

    They’re not going quietly into the night, but they are going, if kicking and screaming, into the permanent twilight of a 35% party.

    Liberals have been proclaiming the imminent death of conservatism since the 1930s. The most recent was in 2008, when Obama proclaimed the war was over, liberalism had won, and it was time to “turn the page” and be magnanimous in victory. So pardon me for being skeptical that conservatism is doomed. Conservatives don’t retreat: they reload.
    There were liberals in 1973 who were convinced that the fight for reproductive freedom was over with Roe v Wade. How wrong they were!
    So let’s not spike the football just yet. There are powerful economic interests backing the continuation of the culture war for political gain, and they don’t give a sh!t whether liberals win arguments on the Internet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @superdestroyer: Today. About 5 seconds ago. And again. and again. and again….

    What you choose to ignore is how the status quo favors certain individuals who just happen to look like you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  31. superdestroyer says:

    @Mu: No relevant political party can exist getting 35%. No one is going to donate to a party that not only cannot influence policy but makes anyone who donates to it a target for the one relevant political parties.

    The more likely scenario is that as the Republicans fade away, all of the former Republicans will just move over and start voting in the Democratic primary where they can have some level of influence. See a state like Mass or Maryland to see this effect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  32. superdestroyer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Since you did not provide any cites, I will take that as a no, there were no times when conservatives in court arguing for separate and unequal treatment. What is amazing is the hypocritical logic that progressives use to justify blatant race-based discrimination when they are in control and a core block of the Democratic Party benefits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  33. stonetools says:

    @Breschau:

    I mean – this whole country was born out of something that was labeled a “Revolution”. Don’t conservatives realize where they would have stood on that issue if they had been around at the time?

    Kevin Phillips wrote a book called “The Cousin’s War”, where he argues that the battle between liberalism and conservatism goes all the way back to the English Civil War of 1641, and the fight between the democrats and the monarchists. This is not something that started in 2008 or 1980 or 1964. As you point out, it’s a long war that most likely goes back before the founding of America.Which is why I doubt it will soon be over.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  34. Barry says:

    “And, like the apocryphal story about Pauline Kael, they didn’t know anyone who didn’t agree with them on these radical ideas, so thought they were appealing to the center.”

    I remember seeing a table showing the percentage of respondents who believed that President Obama was not a citizen, broken down by region and race of the respondent. White Southerners were in a group of their own, with sky-high belief levels.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  35. gVOR08 says:

    @Breschau:

    I mean – this whole country was born out of something that was labeled a “Revolution”. Don’t conservatives realize where they would have stood on that issue if they had been around at the time?

    No, no they don’t. Look at all the effort they’ve put into revisionist Civil War history, making out that their side, the slave owners, were the good guys, even the liberals.

    One tends to think of conservatives as unimaginative and uncreative, but they are seriously creative and imaginative when it comes to river-in-Africa stuff.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @superdestroyer:

    I will take that as a no, when conservatives in court arguing for separate and unequal treatment.

    Haysus crisco could you demonstrate a more profound ignorance of current affairs? I actually have to cite a gay marriage case before you will acknowledge the existence of one? Or a voter ID case? Or a birth control case?

    I repeat, you choose to ignore that which is right in front of you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  37. LaMont says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m not arguing that racism and sexism no longer exist, merely that the policy fights are essentially over.

    I would strongly beg to differ. How much different are these issues compared to the voter suppression policies? Compare it to policies that cut the safety net and funding for public education? How much different is it compared to the GOP’s disinterest to expand Medicaid, Social Security, etc.? What about it’s comparison to some of these stringent abortion policies that are resulting in the closing of abortion clinics? These policies affect different classes of people most than others. It is not only a race issue but it’s an age, middle-class/poor, and gender issue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  38. al-Ameda says:

    Like the Civil War and the War in Vietnam, the Culture War will never be over.

    People can relate to and readily have stronger more immediate feelings about matters of culture – religious preference, the changing roles of women, sexual preference, etc – than they do about the economy or the price volatility of gasoline.

    It’s interesting however that the many Republicans now want to temporarily minimize the Culture War skirmishes because they realize that it increases voter turnout among Democratic Party constituencies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  39. stonetools says:

    Meanwhile in Texas:

    Attorney General Greg Abbott says Texas’ same-sex marriage ban should remain in place because legalizing it would do little or nothing to encourage heterosexual couples to get married and have children.

    Writing in a brief filed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, Abbott said the state was not obligated to prove why gay marriage might be detrimental to the economic or social well-being of Texans. It was only required to show how opposite-sex marriage would be more beneficial for its citizens.

    “The State is not required to show that recognizing same-sex marriage will undermine heterosexual marriage,” the brief read. “It is enough if one could rationally speculate that opposite-sex marriages will advance some state interest to a greater extent than same-sex marriages will.”

    The new filing largely reiterated the same “responsible procreation” argument Abbott made in July, when the state first appealed a a February district court’s ruling overturning the Texas gay marriage ban. In it, Abbott argued marriage among heterosexual partners is more beneficial to society because it encourages married couples to have children and provides an example for other couples to do the same.

    So no, not over.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  40. @stonetools:

    Kevin Phillips wrote a book called “The Cousin’s War”, where he argues that the battle between liberalism and conservatism goes all the way back to the English Civil War of 1641, and the fight between the democrats and the monarchists.

    As noted in Focault’s Pendulum, those of a conspiratorial mindset often reason according to a faulty “law of analogy”: if you can establish an analogy between events A and B, that must mean that event A was secretly caused by event B.

    Only about 10% of the country traces it’s origin back to England or Scotland. Even if their ancestors were still secretly contesting the English Civil War, it’s highly unlikely they would be a significant factor in the country’s culture.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  41. @stonetools:

    Attorney General Greg Abbott says Texas’ same-sex marriage ban should remain in place because legalizing it would do little or nothing to encourage heterosexual couples to get married and have children.

    To be fair, it’s not that suprising that someone who doesn’t believe in evolution doesn’t get what causes people to want to reproduce.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  42. Kylopod says:

    @michael reynolds: Based on my experience discussing the issue with various people over the years, I’ve reached a couple of conclusions about the uniquely rapid shift in public opinion. First, I think many people like Rove misinterpreted the polls in terms of the intensity and motivation of voters who said they opposed SSM. They assumed that because a majority came out against it, that meant that a majority believed, “If there’s gay marriage, next thing there’ll be dog and sheep and brother-sister marriage, and pretty soon the earth will open and swallow us all!” In reality, my impression is that a lot of Americans opposed SSM by default simply because of its novelty–they just thought it was kind of strange–but they were in principle very open to changing their minds the more they got used to the idea.

    Second, unlike a racial or ethnic or religious group, gays are broadly distributed throughout the population. Thus, there can be no equivalent to “white flight” with this issue. The more gays come out of the closet, the likelier it becomes that any individual will have a close relative or friend who’s openly gay, no matter how conservative a demographic they occupy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  43. rodney dill says:

    The Republicans are pandering to a base that is no longer a majority.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  44. superdestroyer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I guess you skipped over the clause that said “for whites only.” Arguing about homosexual marriage has nothing to do with separate and unequal treatment for whites versus other ethnic and racial groups. Progressives have been arguing for decades that separate and unequal treatment for whites is not only legal but good government policy (See affirmative action, minority set asides, forced busing, race norming, etc).

    And what do you bring up but homosexual marriage which is about two groups of whites (one more affluent that the other) fighting over marriage and the government benefits that come with it. Conservatives could have made a much stronger push for being against homosexual marriage if they were willing to give up the subsidies for being married. Now they are going to have to live in legal homosexual marriage but will eventually lose the economic benefits of being married when progressive take their revenge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  45. Liberal Capitalist says:

    The Culture wars are over, eh?

    This is GREAT news for Republicans !!!

    Now they can give up beating that dead horse, and get back to their OTHER lies…

    Like these hits that never get old:

    — how Tax Cuts are self-funding, and

    — By wiping out as many human-being-protecting-regulations as possible, it will improve the life of ALL Americans (… except those who die or get ill, but that’s their fault for not being bootstrappy and being born to the “right” parents)

    Low wages are GOOD as it is beneficial for us all,

    Unions are BAD,

    Unequal pay for Women is fine, because, well… you know: women, right?

    Privatize education because the poor don’t deserve it, because, well… you know: poor, right? (I mean, EEEwww!)

    (gooooOOOOO Koch Brothers !!!!!)

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 4

  46. gVOR08 says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Like I said above, they can run on their policy preferences and their record; or they can find some new front in the culture wars. I’m hoping they stay with illegal immigrants and don’t go for anti-Islamic bigotry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  47. DrDaveT says:

    @Kylopod:

    Second, unlike a racial or ethnic or religious group, gays are broadly distributed throughout the population.

    Bingo. This is the hugely important difference. How many times have we seen a situation like the Cheney family, where homosexuality is abomination, until suddenly one of the kids is gay and it isn’t so abominable any more.

    Look at it this way: if 5 or 10 percent of all ordinary white couples’ kids were born black (and vice versa), how different would the history of racial discrimination be?

    (Yes, I’m aware that this doesn’t work when dealing with the history of discrimination against women, but I think the point stands.)

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  48. stonetools says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Only about 10% of the country traces it’s origin back to England or Scotland. Even if their ancestors were still secretly contesting the English Civil War, it’s highly unlikely they would be a significant factor in the country’s culture

    You probably mean “descendants” . I’m not arguing that todays politicans are secretly refighting the English Civil War, I’m arguing that at least some of these issues were contested all the way back then by ancestral Americans.
    You might also want to look at “Albion’s Seed” and “American Nations”, where historians argue, with plenty of references, that USA’s politics and cultures are strongly influenced by which groups first settled in particular regions of America.
    It’s a deeper way of looking at politics than just looking at what happened yesterday or spinning arguments on the Internet; and it’s definitely more than just conspiracy theories.

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  49. James Pearce says:

    Aside from perhaps immigration, which isn’t an issue that neatly divides along party lines, it’s not obvious what big cultural fights remain.

    They’ll be there. I think the next “culture war” will come bubbling out of the left. It’s still too early to tell if it will become as obnoxious as the religious right, but the seeds have been sown.

    I mean, I have heard the arguments. I have found them unpersuasive.

    And so I will be watching as many NFL games as possible and am eagerly looking forward to Season 2 of True Detective. (And I still think that “camping for bank reform” plan was dumb.)

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  50. Barry says:

    @James Pearce: “They’ll be there. I think the next “culture war” will come bubbling out of the left. It’s still too early to tell if it will become as obnoxious as the religious right, but the seeds have been sown.”

    It’s definitely too early to tell, if you can’t even name the issues.

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  51. @stonetools:

    I’m arguing that at least some of these issues were contested all the way back then by ancestral Americans.

    Yes, but they’re issues that are present in most every society in recorded history; they’re issues that are part of what it is to be human, not the vestigial remnant of some specific country’s history.

    I could just as easily point out a similarity between the Roman Servile Wars and the US Civil War and then argue that the Civil War was a result of pre-war Italian immigrants settling primarily in the northeast.

    But that doesn’t make the abolition movement a continuation of Roman slavery issues, it’s just that any society with slavery will necessarily have similar issues.

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  52. stonetools says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Except of course, Italian immigrants didn’t settle in the northeast in large numbers till after the US Civil War :-).

    Clearly, whatever connections are made would have to be backed up by strong and accurate historical references. I for one have no doubt that current US politics on racial issues stem out of the history of the South dating back to at least to the US Civil War and the peculiar US history of slavery and race relations. The antipathy of southern whites to Obama has less to do with the details of policy than with that history, IMO.
    But hey, feel free to go up to any Southern white and try earnestly to argue that they have nothing to fear from a black man in the White House, and then go on to (try to) engage in a rational discussion of policy. I have a feeling that you are going to be disappointed.

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  53. Rafer Janders says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I could just as easily point out a similarity between the Roman Servile Wars and the US Civil War and then argue that the Civil War was a result of pre-war Italian immigrants settling primarily in the northeast.

    Well, except that there wasn’t really any pre-Civil War Italian immigration. Italians didn’t start moving to the US in any large number until about 1880…..

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  54. superdestroyer says:

    @Barry:

    Judging by the support on the left for Coates, it could easily be reparations. Such a dispute could easily occur inside the Democratic Party. Also, the left could decide to go after home schoolers much like Germany has. This could easily be a fight between the teachers unions and the civil libertarians in the Democratic Party. Housing could easily become the next battle because it would fit inside the Democratic Party or be more of a class fight.

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  55. Blue Galangal says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    As noted in Focault’s Pendulum, those of a conspiratorial mindset often reason according to a faulty “law of analogy”: if you can establish an analogy between events A and B, that must mean that event A was secretly caused by event B.

    Best. Book. Ever!

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  56. James Pearce says:

    @Barry:

    if you can’t even name the issues.

    I just named them. Goofy liberals who think you can fight sexism by demanding “more” and “better” female characters on True Detective. Or the goofy liberals who think if only Roger Goodell would resign, then we’ll reduce domestic violence in this country. Or the goofs who think if only we camp in this park, then someone else will reform our financial system.

    I mean, I’m not suddenly asking for across the board tax cuts and eliminating the minimum wage. I’m just asking my fellow liberals to stop treating everything in the world as cannon fodder for whatever crusade they’re on.

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  57. wr says:

    @James Pearce: ” I’m just asking my fellow liberals to stop treating everything in the world as cannon fodder for whatever crusade they’re on.”

    Here’s the thing. There are lots of stupid people in the world. And there are even more not necessarily stupid people who are capable of thinking a stupid thought.

    And now that we’re in the internet world, you are going to be exposed to just about every one of those stupid ideas. And sometimes when a couple hundred, or even a couple dozen, of those people talk about those stupid ideas, it seems like they’re a big deal.

    They’re not.

    You are of course free to spend as much of your intellect worrying about them as you choose… but I’m sure you can find much better uses for it!

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  58. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    And sometimes when a couple hundred, or even a couple dozen, of those people talk about those stupid ideas, it seems like they’re a big deal.

    They’re not.

    I might have agreed with this a year or two ago, but now, I’m not so sure. I think sometime between the Phil Robertson kerfluffle and this fall’s NFL nonsense, the left have been waging their own little culture war in this country. It doesn’t show any sign of slowing down, and indeed, may be picking up.

    I suspect that some of our rightish commenters know exactly what I’m talking about. I know I’m not the only lefty who’s noticed it.

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  59. Tyrell says:

    @superdestroyer: I am a loyal member of the southern wing of the Democrat Party. I can tell you that southern Democrats do very well at the local state level. There are few Republicans around here. In most local races the Democrats are unopposed.
    Many young people are joining the southern Democrats. The appeal is: strong military, traditional conservative American values, smaller government, sound economic policy, and fair trade deals. In time, the south will once again be the solid Democrat south. Great leaders of the past: Johnson, Mills, Fulbright, Russell, Ervin, Nunn, Long, Connally, Hollings
    .

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  60. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’m just asking my fellow (you forgot to say goofy) liberals to stop treating everything in the world as cannon fodder for whatever crusade they’re on.

    Bu…bu… but: BENGAZI EBOLA !!!

    This is all caused by EBOLA BENGAZI !!!

    (…that’s what they said on FOX NEWS, right?)

    Maybe if them folk would never had bussex with monkeys in bengazi, we wouldn’t be worried about this ebola now.

    amiright or amiright !

    .

    (Texas: Ebolarama-ding-dong! Great job Gov Perry! )

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  61. JKB says:

    Wait, how can we have a culture war? I thought all cultures were equally valid?

    But in any case, the war will never end, just some battles.

    So SSM is a done deal, I agree. But you see, the SSM advocates weren’t really looking for the right as much as to be in people’s faces. See the wedding cake and photographer, and florist incidents. Well, now, the Dems have to push these in your face advocates into the shadows. Homosexuality and SSM don’t poll so well among Hispanics and African-Americans. I believe, Democrats call those “core” demographics?

    And Democrats should be a bit concerned about the much heralded decline in the old, white, non-urban male Republican? demographic. See, if they no longer push the agenda, it doesn’t mean a Democrat win, it means a Democrat fracture as groups that do not feel well loved in the Democrat coalition migrate to candidates that arise to bridge the gap, so to speak.

    And let’s not forget the culture battles brewing such as the support of blasphemy laws by the Democrat heir-apparent. The efforts to suppress speech, shotguns ad libitum and let’s not forget the basic of all political arguments, how much taxes.

    What should be of concern is not the end of SSM debate, but what will be used to create a new coalition of voters.

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  62. anjin-san says:

    @JKB:

    But you see, the SSM advocates weren’t really looking for the right as much as to be in people’s faces.

    RIght. Gay people don’t want the equality that is the birthright of every American. They want to annoy JKB.

    I have a friend, a wonderful guy, whos partner died a few years back. He was doubly devastated because they had not able to get married, something they both wanted rather badly. They had been together a long time, and were as committed as any hetro couple I’ve known.

    Why do conservatives have to shit on other people to feel good about themselves? I do not get it…

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  63. Kari Q says:

    @JKB:

    But you see, the SSM advocates weren’t really looking for the right as much as to be in people’s faces. See the wedding cake and photographer, and florist incidents.

    You sure know a lot about this issue. The gay couples I know who are getting married aren’t thinking about the partners they’ve been with for years, or the security of knowing the relationship will be respected in case of illness, disability or death, or that their inheritance won’t be risked if one partner dies and the family disapproves of their relationship, or the ability to be covered on one another’s insurance. Nope. They are all saying “Man, I really hope that someone who hates us will ruin our special day!”

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  64. JKB says:

    and most of the attempts to impose religiously-based values on the rest of society.

    I think you mean Christian based religious values on the rest of society. The Democrats seem mighty amenable to imposing Muslim based values on the rest of society with their promotion of removing pork from school menus, support to restrict speech that Muslims claim defames Mohammad, etc.

    Of course, this may cause a disjuncture in the Democrat coalition as right now, today, in the world, their are practitioners of mainstream Islam that actively, pursue the killing of homosexuals and women through official government channels and who support the murder of female children who refuse being married off as a child or express independence. Not to mention the official government imposed whipping of girls who dance and smile.

    And we have direct support by the current Presidential administration of an actual “War on Women” by the refusal to support the defenders of Kobani even as a third of those fighters are Kurdish girls and women who face certain death with high probability that death will be by being raped to death by the same attackers operating with impunity in the open desert without fear of US air strikes.

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  65. JKB says:

    @anjin-san: @Kari Q:

    Then why so eager to force others to participate in their marriage event rather than simply find someone agnostic about the matter or a supporter?

    And why get so upset when the radio station arranged the marriage of two heterosexuals of the same gender when it was really a celebration of the fact that the winning of SSM rights went beyond just those who were sexually attracted to each other?

    I perhaps wrote my point poorly, but I do think the current activists will not go quietly into the night smug in their accomplishment, but rather will overreach. It will be amusing to watch.

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  66. James Pearce says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Bu…bu… but: BENGAZI EBOLA !!!

    Well, in my defense, we shouldn’t take my criticism of the PC left as an endorsement of the braindead right.

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  67. anjin-san says:

    @JKB:

    Then why so eager to force others to participate in their marriage event rather than simply find someone agnostic about the matter or a supporter?

    Right. And why should black folks be able to force a restaurant they want to eat at to serve them when they could just look around and find a soul food joint…

    Do you really not see that gay people are in no way “eager” to “force” anyone to participate anyone in their marriages? They simply don’t want to be told “buzz off faggot” (even if it is stated politely) when they only want to enjoy the same access to goods and services straight folks take for granted.

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  68. Mikey says:

    @JKB:

    Then why so eager to force others to participate in their marriage event rather than simply find someone agnostic about the matter or a supporter?

    Because they shouldn’t be required to limit their own available options due to someone else’s bigotry.

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  69. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    Discrimination on the basis of race and sex have been illegal for decades. I’m not arguing that racism and sexism no longer exist, merely that the policy fights are essentially over.

    Except Republicans have been fighting to scale back any any way for the victims of discrimination to get redress in the courts.

    Some of the arguments on individual bills may be reasonable (for the sake of argument), but when the Republicans aren’t suggesting any alternatives to achieve a similar policy goal, one suspects that the fight over tactics really is a policy fight.

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  70. superdestroyer says:

    @Tyrell:

    Lets look at your points:

    1) strong military: I assume you mean a much smaller military with more social engineering and fewer foreign entanglements. Do you really think that there is anyone in the Democratic Party that is going to agree with Republicans on military spending.
    2) traditional conservative American values: this can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean. I suspect that anyone inside the Democratic Party is in full support of social engineering. Who how can you support “Values” while supporting social engineering.
    3) smaller government. You may want to look up the stated agenda of many members of the Democratic party and how there is no way they can pay for everything they want by taxing the rich.
    4) sound economic policy. Once again, could mean anything. How is increasing entitlements, increasing legal immigration, and increasing the price of labor at the same time a sound economic policy?
    5) fair trade deals. Once again, fair to who? Is protectionism to allow a steel mill in Minnesota to pay union wages really fair to the people who have to purchase more expensive good. There is no such thing as fair trade.

    If you live in a place in the south where Democrats are running unopposed, then you are living in a location that has a high minority population unless you are willing to give me at least a state so I can look up the data. The heavily Democratic locations in the deep south that are majority white usually are usually college town or places with large numbers of transplants from other states.

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  71. superdestroyer says:

    @Gustopher:

    So either conservatives support separate and unequal treatment that is beneficial for blacks or they are racist? Have progressives gone so far over the edge that they have forgotten about due process and equal rights? Have the politically correct status seeking of self-claimed progressives gone that progressives actively support discrimination against whites? When did treating everyone the same become a thought crime? When did expecting all adults to be to perform the same functions as citizens become racist?

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  72. stonetools says:

    @James Pearce:

    Frankly, I think liberals are so beseiged right now that they will be united and on their best behavior for quite some time. Back in the heady days of 2009, folks like Jame Hamsher were berating Obama for not creating liberal utopia by fiat. Ed Schultz was saying things like liberals should sit out the 2010 elections to protest the Administration’s failure to pass a public option in the ASA. And numerous gay advocates condemned Obama as a traitor for not pressing instant universal gay marriage.
    Now liberals just want to hang on to what they’ve got. Every liberal I know-even atheist ones- are praying that somehow, some way, the Dems keep their Senate majority. Just about no liberal is criticizing Obama, except sotto voce.
    When you are in a death struggle witrh a rabidly conservative Republican Party that is winning, it does concentrate the mind wonderfully.

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  73. al-Ameda says:

    @JKB:

    The Democrats seem mighty amenable to imposing Muslim based values on the rest of society with their promotion of removing pork from school menus, support to restrict speech that Muslims claim defames Mohammad, etc.

    I can’t speak for all other liberals, but after a hard day of work trying to implement Sharia Law I really like to settle in and have a nice cold Damascus Microbrew. By the way I like the Damascus microbrews, but I’ve always found Yemen Pale Ale to be especially refreshing.

    After that I’m usually working on my draft plan that mandates falafel and hummus at all school lunches, and of course I work tirelessly to have Muslim prayers recited over school PA systems everyday at prayer hours.

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  74. gVOR08 says:

    @al-Ameda: Yeah. Sharia should fit right in with liberal commitments to women’s rights, gay rights, ending capital punishment, separation of church and state and so on and so on. It worries me to think what kind of nutpicking, cartoonish caricature of liberals JKB has.

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  75. Tillman says:

    @James Pearce:

    They’ll be there. I think the next “culture war” will come bubbling out of the left. It’s still too early to tell if it will become as obnoxious as the religious right, but the seeds have been sown.

    I mean, I have heard the arguments. I have found them unpersuasive.

    I agree in broad strokes. I’ve been exposed to similar super-PC arguments within the last year that, while appealing for the worldview they hold up, don’t make as much sense on contact with reality. There’s a kind of sanctimony in some parts of the left I find in common with the fundamentalists outlawing abortion and legislating skirt lengths. It’s bound, like all triumphalist movements, to lead to overreach.

    It doesn’t help that my motives are immediately suspicious in some corners when I talk about this possible overreach because I’m a white male. I’m not stupid enough to cry discrimination about it (because who’s more discriminated against than the white guy who has things to say in this country?) but I just innately dislike seeing people I agree with say stupid things.

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  76. Tillman says:

    @al-Ameda: Yemen Pale Ale™: Forbidden for Us, Brewed for Infidels Like You!

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  77. Dave D says:

    @gVOR08: To the far right, if you’re a liberal and decry their islamophobia you are patently for passing Sharia law. Because The evangelicals really love to bludgeon this country with their religious principles yet hate having to be exposed to anyone else’s. That said look at the kerfuffle that arose when Bill Maher spoke ill of muslims. Like all of the freedoms in the country there needs to be a balance when it comes to religion. And some on the left are reflexive in defense of perceived or actual slights against another (broad generalization ahead) people and or culture, they can become apologists for some pretty awful things.

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  78. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @superdestroyer: I specifically said you were a complete idiot and you missed it. Imagine that.

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  79. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:

    And so I will be watching as many NFL games as possible and am eagerly looking forward to Season 2 of True Detective. (And I still think that “camping for bank reform” plan was dumb.)

    I get the NFL thing and occupy wall street, but why did you throw True Detective in there? Is there some sort of progressive backlash against True Detective that I am unaware of?

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  80. Hal_10000 says:

    I’ve said this before, but it’s worth noting: the Republicans strategy on gay marriage was an echo of their so-called Southern Strategy of the 1970’s. In the end, the Southern Strategy didn’t benefit them. The South was always conservative and the only thing that had kept them Democrat for so long was the Democratic Party’s embrace of segregation. They would have won the South anyway eventually. But it completely destroyed their credibility with the black community (the GOP used to draw 30% of black votes). So they gained nothing and lost a huge amount.

    Gay marriage is likely to go the same way. They stuck to an issue that only mattered to people who were going to vote for them anyway. But the vehemence of their opposition will be remembered and hurt them for years.

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  81. James Pearce says:

    @stonetools:

    Frankly, I think liberals are so beseiged right now that they will be united and on their best behavior for quite some time.

    I have less confidence in this. I think the key difference between conservatives and liberals in this country is that the conservatives know when they’re doing something harmful or dumb. Liberals, beaming with good intentions, just don’t seem to understand when they’re helping….and when they’re not.

    (And just want to say this is VERY general. I’m still as liberal as I was yesterday.)

    @Tillman:

    There’s a kind of sanctimony in some parts of the left I find in common with the fundamentalists outlawing abortion and legislating skirt lengths.

    This. I’ve noted in other threads the similarity I see between the anti-NFL crowd and the anti-Obamacare crowd. Both crowds are so devoted to their opposition, they sometimes get confused about why they’re opposed. This is not the hallmark of a well-thought out position.

    It doesn’t help that my motives are immediately suspicious in some corners when I talk about this possible overreach because I’m a white male.

    I’ve encountered this same phenomenon. I mean, I understand that as a white male I’m symbolic of the “white male” problem and since these people tend to think in symbols, they tend to forget the flesh and blood person.

    Which boggles my mind because I thought the whole point was not to think about people in terms of symbols.

    @Grewgills:

    Is there some sort of progressive backlash against True Detective that I am unaware of?

    Yes, God, yes. And it was very strange, too.

    Critics were all set to declare True Detective as the best show on television. The writing, they said, the directing, the performances, the mood. But then as the show progressed, the lefty critics, mostly feminists, began to sour on it.

    An attractive woman gets undressed for an unattractive white man. CCH Pounder didn’t show up as the wise old Lieutenant. They didn’t spend much time with the wife. Most of the other female characters were hookers or sexual deviants. It was, in short, too “white male” oriented for their tastes.

    Me, I loved the show. I actually found it inspiring in a weird way. But I’m weird that way. I just love film. If it’s a movie about multi-racial favela-dwellers (City of God) or a Korean nightmare (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance), I’ll watch it….if it’s good.

    I couldn’t imagine judging things based on the race of the characters, their gender, sexual orientation or even proclivities. That strikes me as backward and dumb. But that’s what these people do. That’s all they do.

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  82. superdestroyer says:

    @Hal_10000:

    If you look at the political career of people like George Wallace his was a big government populist. The idea that the south was conservative during the New Deal is laughable.

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  83. Hal_10000 says:

    @superdestroyer:

    The idea that the career of George Wallace was defined by anything other than segregation is laughable. Segregation was the issue in the South. People I grew up with had never voted Republican. Their fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers had never voted Republican because of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Up until the 80’s, every gubernatorial candidate or state office holder I knew was subtly or not-so-subtly racist.

    Returning to the main issue:

    I don’t think you can ignore the influence of the economy on the shift, not just on this issue, but on marijuana as well. The sense I get from conservatives is increasing “who cares?” The last time we had such a profoundly bad economy — the 1930’s — saw the end of Prohibition. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Hard times make people focus on what’s important and culture War BS …. isn’t.

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  84. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Breschau:

    Republicans could have realized that misguided cultural attitudes toward gays would naturally diminish over time,

    “Republicans” may well have realized that fact. The problem for the GOP is that religious conservatives would rather “bully someone into heaven than comfort them into hell,” don’t care about what “sinners” think about them, and will oppose moves that they believe will “bring God’s judgement” on to America. These people are not moving in the same world that you are at all. They may want to win. but winning is not the goal–being “faithful” is.

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  85. Grewgills says:

    @Hal_10000:

    The idea that the career of George Wallace was defined by anything other than segregation is laughable. Segregation was the issue in the South.

    Wallace was at his core a populist. He stood hard for segregation because that was the populist position in Alabama at the time. He came back in the 80s and managed to win as a populist again under completely different terms. I was shocked at the time, but he could apparently charm the pants off of just about anyone.

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  86. Kylopod says:

    @superdestroyer:

    The idea that the south was conservative during the New Deal is laughable.

    It’s true that Southern Democrats were part of the original New Deal coalition, but from the late 1930s onward they were recognized as the most conservative segment of the party. In Congress they tended to ally themselves with Republicans on most domestic issues, in what came to be called the Conservative Coalition:

    While the South had many New Deal supporters it also had many conservatives opposed to the expansion of federal power…. U.S. Senator Josiah Bailey (D-NC) released a “Conservative Manifesto” in December 1937, which included several statements of conservative philosophical tenets, including the line “Give enterprise a chance, and I will give you the guarantees of a happy and prosperous America.” The document called for a balanced federal budget, state’s rights, and an end to labor union violence and coercion. Over 100,000 copies were distributed and it marked a turning point in terms of congressional support for New Deal legislation…. In the hard-fought 1938 congressional elections, the Republicans scored major gains in both houses, picking up six Senate seats and 80 House seats. Thereafter the conservative Democrats and Republicans in both Houses of Congress would often vote together on major economic issues, thus defeating many proposals by liberal Democrats.

    In the ’40s it wasn’t just Truman’s civil-rights plank that Southern Dems opposed; they also backed Taft-Hartley and were instrumental in the defeat of his national health-care initiative. When lifelong Southern Democrats like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms defected to the GOP, it wasn’t because they had grown more conservative but because they found a home in the GOP for views that had previously been associated with the Democratic Party’s conservative wing. In fact, the departure of the South from the Democratic Party was a big part of what created the modern notion that the party is the country’s liberal party. Up until the 1970s, the Dems were largely seen as ideologically and demographically incoherent–that was the real meaning behind Will Rogers’ famous quip “I belong to no organized party, I’m a Democrat.”

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  87. Sherparick says:

    @James Joyner: First, on abortion, the Right has been winning, particularly on the state level. In much of Red State America right now legal abortions are not available. To obtain one a woman would have to travel to a blue state or a foreign country. An inconvenience to middle class and upper class women in those states, but a real barrier to working class and poor women. Defacto segregation, job discrimination, and police profiling of Blacks and Hispanics seems to be increasing. There is a coarseness, racism, and sexism that I meet in white males in their twenties and thirties that I thought I saw retreat in the 1970s and 80s and early 90s.

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  88. Barry says:

    @James Pearce: “Goofy liberals who think you can fight sexism by demanding “more” and “better” female characters on True Detective. Or the goofy liberals who think if only Roger Goodell would resign, then we’ll reduce domestic violence in this country. Or the goofs who think if only we camp in this park, then someone else will reform our financial system.”

    The first two are not culture war issues; the last is one, but the rich decisively won it.

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  89. Barry says:

    @stonetools: A lot of what you’re talking about is reality hitting people’s dreams.

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  90. Barry says:

    @Tillman: “I agree in broad strokes. I’ve been exposed to similar super-PC arguments within the last year that, while appealing for the worldview they hold up, don’t make as much sense on contact with reality. ”

    By anybody with any influence? Remember, it’s not whether or not there are whackos, it’s whether they have power and influence.

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  91. Barry says:

    @Dave D: “That said look at the kerfuffle that arose when Bill Maher spoke ill of muslims. ”

    You mean where a smarmy sh*t made a bunch of stupid and lying statements, and was called on it?

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  92. Barry says:

    @Hal_10000: “I’ve said this before, but it’s worth noting: the Republicans strategy on gay marriage was an echo of their so-called Southern Strategy of the 1970’s. In the end, the Southern Strategy didn’t benefit them. The South was always conservative and the only thing that had kept them Democrat for so long was the Democratic Party’s embrace of segregation. They would have won the South anyway eventually. But it completely destroyed their credibility with the black community (the GOP used to draw 30% of black votes). So they gained nothing and lost a huge amount.”

    It was a swap, pure and simple. Goldwater even admitted it (‘go hunting where the ducks are’). The GOP gained the Presidency from 1968-1992, with one four year gap, when they stepped on their d*cks, hard.

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  93. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “Critics were all set to declare True Detective as the best show on television. The writing, they said, the directing, the performances, the mood. But then as the show progressed, the lefty critics, mostly feminists, began to sour on it.”

    What you’re describing has been a constant in criticism since the days of cave painting. The first responders to a new work of art swoon over it, and then a new critic makes a claim that they’re all wrong or deluded or corrupt.

    In this case, I tink it was The New Yorker’s TV critic who first pointed out TD’s problematic approach to female characters. Now I’m no fan of this critic. I think she’s an excellent writer who knows and understands very little about the medium she writes about — she’s almost as bad as the NYT’s TV people.

    But in this case she had a point. Women were present in the show mostly as objects and generally as sex objects. (Although Michelle Monaghan’s character became stronger as the show went along.)

    Now whether or not this is a problem depends on your perspective. It wasn’t for me, and I still think that the show is the new paradigm for TV writers to emulate. If I were female? Maybe it would bother me more. Enough that it outweighed the show’s plusses? Depends on the viewer.

    Whether or not I agree with the opinion, it’s a perfectly valid piece of criticism. I don’t see why you find this some appalling political issue proving that liberals will go crazy in the culture wars of the future. No one was calling for the show to be banned or protested — some people were saying “it’s not as great as you think and here’s why.” That’s not war; that’s dialogue.

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  94. James Pearce says:

    @Barry:

    The first two are not culture war issues; the last is one, but the rich decisively won it.

    I’m sorry, Barry, but the liberal project to make sure everything in pop culture reflects their principles of diversity and nothing else is indeed a culture war issue. Using pro football as a symbolic proxy for everything that’s wrong with masculinity is also a culture war issue. It differs from Dan Quayle bitching about Murphy Brown only in content, not quality.

    Also this:

    the last is one, but the rich decisively won it.

    Actually it was more like this. The rich didn’t “win” and Occupy didn’t “lose” because there was not actually a fight. The rich went to their offices, had their 3-martini lunches, made their power deals and looked out the windows at the fools huddling in their sleeping bags and laughed. “Oh, I didn’t realize you were trying to stop me,” they say, stepping around the rabble.

    Seriously, dude, it’s like a bunch of lefty “thinkers” got together and asked themselves, “What can we do that will be least likely to result in bank reform?” And so they came up with Occupy.

    Meanwhile, Republicans have no shame in passing voter ID laws to depress turn-out. They are not as confused as to the correlation between the actions they take and the goals they would like to accomplish.

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  95. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    Women were present in the show mostly as objects and generally as sex objects.

    Well, as you pointed out, there was some depth to Michelle Monaghan’s character, and while her role is a minor supporting role, she wasn’t treated like a sex object. Alexandra Daddario’s character started out as a sex object, but soon claimed her own ground. And the hooker characters? Seriously, if the complaint is that the hooker characters were treated as sex objects, then the complaint is that some of the characters were hookers.

    You’re absolutely right that whether this is a problem is up to one’s perspective.

    But what does it say about one’s perspective if these are the things you focus on?

    Many of the folks who complained about TD being so male-centric are doing flips over the announcement of a Ghostbusters reboot with a female cast. What’s that tell you?

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  96. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “But what does it say about one’s perspective if these are the things you focus on? Many of the folks who complained about TD being so male-centric are doing flips over the announcement of a Ghostbusters reboot with a female cast. What’s that tell you?”

    It tells me that you are conflating two different things and ascribing both to unnamed others to prove that there’s something wrong with them.

    Feminist criticism is perfectly legitimate. You don’t happen to agree with it — fine. But to deny there’s any validity to this point of view simply because you don’t share it shuts you out from any discussion with anyone who isn’t you — basically it’s Fox New syndrome.

    You don’t say who these unidentified people are who complained about one thing and are “doing flips” about the other, and I’ve come across no such thing. The writers I’ve read complaning about the treatment of women in TD are not generally ones who write about announcements of upcoming film projects.

    But if there exists such a person, I’d think it might well be someone who feels that there’s a paucity of leading or even important roles for actresses in much of film and TV, and thus believes that a major studio planning to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a project led by three women is a good thing. How is that bad or hypocritical or culture warry or whatever negative you’re implying?

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  97. wr says:

    @wr: And by the way, I personally think the idea of a Ghostbusters “reboot” is a hideous waste of money and resources, no matter who is in the lead.

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  98. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    Feminist criticism is perfectly legitimate.

    Well to be fair, feminist criticism is perfectly legitimate.

    But if one’s big criticism is “too many dudes, not enough ladies” that’s not actually feminist. It’s just sexist.

    If one’s big complaint about the female characters is that they didn’t conform to one’s preconceived notions of femininity, then again….it’s not feminist. It’s just sexist.

    And yes, I do have a particular critic in mind. Alyssa Rosenberg. She writes for the Washington Post. Sharp mind, good writer, but a one-dimensional and, in my view, rather sexist critic.

    I’d think it might well be someone who feels that there’s a paucity of leading or even important roles for actresses in much of film and TV, and thus believes that a major studio planning to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a project led by three women is a good thing. How is that bad or hypocritical or culture warry or whatever negative you’re implying?

    Well, just to be clear, I don’t think encouraging major studios to invest in women-led projects is bad. I think that’s awesome. I encourage more of it.

    What I think is bad and hypocritical and culture-warry is the feminists encouraging the exact opposite when it comes to male-oriented projects.

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  99. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “What I think is bad and hypocritical and culture-warry is the feminists encouraging the exact opposite when it comes to male-oriented projects.”

    If you will pardon me, that seems like an odd thing to worry about. Almost every movie made by the studios is male oriented. It’s like worrying they won’t make “white projects” anymore now that they’ve discovered a profitable market in the African American community…

    But all that is aside from the point. (My fault — I steered us here…) What was bugging me about your initial True Detective comments was that you seemed to believe that a writer criticizing a show for reasons you thought foolish was the equivalent to the right-wing’s culture wars.

    Critics — and others — write about pop culture. They use pop culture to launch into broader conversations about society. They may say all sorts of things you think stupid — that’s fine. You join the conversation or you ignore them. That’s how cuture works.

    In the “culture war,” right wingers didn’t just criticize work they didn’t like They tried to have it outlawed. They tried to mobilize people to get it pulled from the marketplace. Right wingers didn’t merely object to Serrano’s “Piss Christ,” for instance — they worked to defund the government agency that gave him a grant. Right wingers in New York didn’t just complain about Chris Offili’s elephant dung Virgin Mary — they forced the museum to pull it from the exhibit.

    That’s a culture war — using political and financial pressure to remove a work of art you find objectionable from existence.

    Writing a piece criticizing a work for reasons you find silly — that’s not culture war. That’s culture.

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  100. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    Almost every movie made by the studios is male oriented.

    If you’ll forgive me, this is more myth than true. There are entire genres of films that appeal to an almost-exclusively female audience, and what’s more, women have accounted for a larger share of the movie-going audience for a half decade now. I mean, the Expendables 3 flopped this summer. But Maleficent, Fault in Our Stars, and the latest Hunger Games did pretty good…..

    What was bugging me about your initial True Detective comments was that you seemed to believe that a writer criticizing a show for reasons you thought foolish was the equivalent to the right-wing’s culture wars.

    Let me clarify.

    I don’t think actually think left-wing critics are equivalent to the right-wing’s culture wars. I think they share the same spirit, and if left unchecked, the left-wing version will metastasize into something that resembles the right-wing version. (Hence my desire to “check” it.)

    That’s a culture war — using political and financial pressure to remove a work of art you find objectionable from existence.

    It’s interesting that you say this. I mean, I agree with it 100%.

    But check out this link.

    Does that seem like an invitation to a conversation? Or does the “Let’s Burn It Down to the Ground” tagline make it seem more like an effort to “use political and financial pressure to remove a work of art you find objectionable from existence?”

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  101. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “Or does the “Let’s Burn It Down to the Ground” tagline make it seem more like an effort to “use political and financial pressure to remove a work of art you find objectionable from existence?”

    No, it really doesn’t. It reads like a rhetorical device which makes sense in the context (as it starts out describing the story, in which some evil guy is burning women to death). It in no way is calling for censorship — or even suggesting people should contact the network to demand its cancellation. It’s pure hyperbole — like saying “Every Justin Bieber record should be burned and the ground underneath salted so nothing can ever grow there.”

    Look, I’m not saying there aren’t nuts on the left, and I’m not claiming there aren’t elements there that would happily endorse the censorship of materials that trouble them. And there’s the whole well-meaning but fundamentally insane “trigger words” thing that some are trying to push on colleges.

    But I don’t think that either this or the TD criticisms come close.

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  102. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    It reads like a rhetorical device which makes sense in the context

    The right’s culture wars started with rhetorical devices, too.

    I just think as lefties we have a responsibility to be more tolerant, not less. We should be color-blind and gender-neutral, not obsessed with making sure everything we see conforms to our ideal level of diversity. We definitely shouldn’t be talking about burning TV shows to the ground.

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  103. al-Ameda says:

    @Tillman:

    @al-Ameda: Yemen Pale Ale™: Forbidden for Us, Brewed for Infidels Like You!

    Has Yemen contacted you concerning marketing Yemen Pale Ale?
    I will provide a reference for you?.

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