DISCUSSION: Should Conservatives Avoid the Culture War?

DISCUSSION: Should Conservatives Avoid the Culture War? May 26, 2023

Some Republicans are saying that conservatives should concentrate on the economy as a political issue, rather than continuing to wage the “culture war.”

John Daniel Davidson disagrees.  He says the culture war is the only issue:

Put simply, the big mistake in thinking the culture war isn’t the most critical issue heading into 2024 is that all of American politics is now one big culture war. The culture war is the only issue because the cultural war is everything now. When one side stakes its claim to political power on offering abortion up until birth and transgender operations for 8-year-olds, and holds out these policies as proof of its moral authority, we’re way past arguing over how to get the economy back on track. And there’s no going back to that kind of politics.

Tucker Carlson hit on this at the end of his big speech at Heritage recently. He compared the values of the political left to the values of the Aztecs, who sacrificed children to their bloodthirsty gods — and he wasn’t wrong. Our politics, he argued, have shifted profoundly in a relatively short period of time. Instead of arguing over the best means to bring about an agreed-upon common good, we no longer agree about what the common good is. Forget about whether Republicans or Democrats are right about the ideal marginal tax rate. We can’t even agree on whether men and women exist as meaningful categories. If we don’t get that question right, you can forget about economic prosperity, much less anything like a republic or a constitutional system of government.

What do you think?  Even if Davidson is right–and I think he is–does it help for conservatives to run on these issues if that means they will lose the election?  Can politics really adjudicate these profound issues?  Do we need to wage the culture war culturally, rather than politically?  That is, change the culture in order to change the politics?  How do we do that?

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