Friday :: Nov 12, 2004

Don't You Know There's a (Culture) War Going On?


by rayman

I know a lot of us were down on Oklahoma Senate candidate Brad Carson for his faux-Republican posturing during his campaign, but he was a staunch supporter of Kos during the whole "mercenary" ridiculousness (to his credit), and he seems like a pretty perceptive guy overall, as his TNR article demonstrates:

As a defeated Senate candidate in the most red of red states, many people have asked me for insights into the Democratic Party's failure to connect with culturally conservative voters. Much has already been written on this topic, and scholars will add more. But I do know this: The culture war is real, and it is a conflict not merely about some particular policy or legislative item, but about modernity itself. Banning gay marriage or abortion would not be sufficient to heal the cultural gulf that exists in this nation. The culture war is about matters more fundamental still: whether nationality is, in a globalized world, a random fact of no more significance than what hospital one was born in or whether it is the source of identity and even political legitimacy; whether one's self is a matter of choice or whether it is predetermined, before birth, by the cultural membership of one's family; whether an individual is just that--a free-floating atom--or whether the individual is part of a long chain that both predates and continues long after any particular person; whether concepts like honor and shame, which seem so quaint, are still relevant in a world that values only "tolerance." These are questions not for politicians but for philosophers, and, in the end, it is the failure of liberal philosophy that we saw on November 2.

Now, most of us are undoubtedly appalled by this last sentence. Indeed, Chris Bowers is positively enraged:
Quite frankly, if Carson is right, then the people he is talking with can go [Cheney] themselves. I am not rejecting modernity. If they are, then we call them on it, and make that our war. The last thing we need to do is reject modernity in order to win votes. I not only draw the line there, I draw it way before that. I'll become a violent insurgent in my own country before I let us slink into the confederacy, the ancien regime, or something even more primordial. Quite literally, over my dead body.

Personally, I'm far more partial to Chris's view, and am repulsed by Carson's proclamation about "the failure of liberal philosophy." However, if nothing else, Carson's missive is a stark reminder to those Democrats who still believe that if we somehow compromise with Red State voters by earnestly relating to their "values," we'll somehow peel off enough votes. As Digby wisely notes:
Most liberals don't hear what is said about them to millions upon millions of "middle Americans," in which every grievance, every problem is laid at the foot of the "liberal elite." The message here is of tribal warfare. Rush and Sean and Bill are not shining examples of moral rectitude and everyone knows it. They are warriors. Down the dial and in the pulpits this battle is explained as fight for moral values, in which the liberal elite is forcing it's decadence into their workplaces and their homes. Again, the fight is one of life and death. Even for those who don't listen to the talkers on the radio and in the pews, the message seeps out. Us and them.

Got it?

rayman :: 5:49 AM :: Comments (41) :: Digg It!