The old culture war was about morality and was informed by religion. The new culture war, signaled by the election of Donald Trump, is about nationalism vs. multiculturalism and “the people” vs. the elites. Trump has little interest in the old culture wars, with the important exception of being pro-life. But the new culture war is just as emotional, with pretty much the same people on either side. So says Rich Lowry in a piece excerpted and linked after the jump.
So where does that leave Christians and others who are still concerned about morality and religion?
If those issues are taken off the table, Christians have other interests–jobs, security, liberty–that could align them with this alleged new culture war. Many are members of what Lowry calls “Jacksonian America,” those ordinary citizens scorned by the elite as “vulgar masses,” like those championed by Andrew Jackson (and who trashed the White House when he invited them in).
Other Christians may be on the elite side, a faction often championed by traditional conservatives. Just as populism used to be central to the ideology of the Democratic party.
If this analysis is correct, isn’t there going to be tension between a catholic religion like Christianity (“from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” [Rev. 7:9]) and nationalism?
From Rich Lowry, Donald Trump – Culture War | National Review:
The nation’s foremost culture warrior is President Donald J. Trump.
He wouldn’t, at first blush, seem well suited to the part. Trump once appeared on the cover of Playboy. He has been married three times. He ran beauty pageants and was a frequent guest on the Howard Stern radio show. His “locker-room talk” captured on the infamous Access Hollywood tape didn’t, shall we say, demonstrate a well-honed sense of propriety.
There is no way Trump could be a credible combatant in the culture war as it existed for the past 40 years. But he has reoriented the main lines of battle away from issues related to religion and sexual morality onto the grounds of populism and nationalism. Trump’s culture war is fundamentally the people versus the elite, national sovereignty versus cosmopolitanism, and patriotism versus multiculturalism.
It’s the difference, in a nutshell, between fighting over gay rights or immigration, over the breakdown in marriage or Black Lives Matter. The new war is just as emotionally charged as the old one. It, too, involves fundamental questions about who we are as a people, which are always more fraught than the debate over the appropriate tax rate or whether or not we should have a defense sequester.
The participants are, by and large, the same as well. The old culture war featured Middle America on one side, and coastal elites, academia, and Hollywood on the other. So does the new war. And while Trump has no interest in fighting over gay marriage or engaging in the bathroom wars, his staunch pro-life position is a notable holdover from the old war.
Yet any of his detractors who is warning, out of reflex more than anything else, of an attempt to control women’s bodies or establish a theocracy is badly out of date. Donald Trump has many ambitions, but imposing his morality on anyone clearly isn’t one of them.
Illustration of Andrew Jackson’s inaugural reception: Made by Robert Cruickshank as an illustration in the The Playfair papers, published in London by Saunders and Otley in 1841, v. 2. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons