The LW deserves to win the "Culture War" all the way, once and for all

Three years ago I posted this thread arguing that, for purely strategic reasons, the Dems should downplay cultural liberalism and embrace economic populism. And the Obama campaign seems to be doing that with some success. Nevertheless – when it comes to economic policy and tax policy and trade policy and regulation of industry, I can at least admit that, while supply-side and the Laffer Curve etc. are bullshit in most respects, RWs do sometimes at least have arguments worth listening to. I do not account Keynesian economics discredited, but certainly Establishment Liberalism must have been doing something wrong to produce the stagflation of the 1970s.

However. WRT the issues relevant to the “Culture War,” however, I am untroubled by any uncertainty. On social-moral-cultural-religious matters, the RW, insofar as it distinguishes itself from and opposes itself to the LW and the center, is never, ever right. On gay marriage, gay rights in general – they’re wrong. Abortion – they’re wrong. Creationism – they’re wrong. Feminism and gender roles – they’re wrong. Can anyone offer a single example where they’re right and the LW or mainstream are wrong?

Well, seems you’ve already got your mind made up, but just so you’ll have something to shout about I’ll say gun rights.

Well, insofar as there IS some kind of cast in stone stance for the Right Wing vs the Left Wing, I’d agree with 50million…the LW’s stance on gun control has not been a good one, IMHO. As for the other things you commented on, I guess it depends on who you consider Right Wing. The RELIGIOUS Right Wingers I’d certainly agree feel much as you stated…and I agree, they are swimming against the tide on most if not all of the issues you brought up. Yeah…IMHO they are wrong about them.

Socially where I think the LWers are wrong are on issues of social engineering and top down control, on issues of environmentalism by fiat, and on perpetuating the whole class warfare and race warfare meme, which I think is counter productive. The funny thing (for me) is that I AGREE with a lot of the LW ideals on most if not all of the issues you mentioned in the OP…but the other things I find nearly as distasteful as the RWers stances on the psudo-religious bullshit issues. To paraphrase ‘Right Wingers are crazy but Left Wingers are idiots’…both play to a small but vocal minority in our country. There is a certain amount of cross over from the center of course (as I said, I actually lean towards the LW on certain things and the RW on others…but I think more left than right on most social issues).


To me, the thing is that there are a lot of issues that I think are big and ambiguous and gray and reasonable people can disagree. Death penalty, gun control, abortion, etc. I tend to agree with the left more than the right on those, because I’m generally liberal, but I don’t see my side as being right in some absolute sense.

However, there are a few issues that I think are utter and complete and total slam dunks, where I am 100% convinced that my position is the correct one and history will bear me out, and where I find it very hard to feel anything but contempt for anyone who disagrees with me… issues like gay marriage (it should be legal) and creationism (is hogwash). And of those issues, I agree with the left on every single one.

Take one of your examples of something “obviously right” - feminism and gender roles. We would all certainly agree that women should be accorded the freedom to achieve in our society whatever objectives they should desire, without let or hinderance from the government. The argument, and I say it is a legitimate one, comes into play concerning the cost of practically making this laudable goal into a reality. It is one thing to remove barriers and another to enact legislation or policies having the effect of if you like bringing into being a state of actual equality - that may involve interference in private activities by the state to an extent that creates legitimate concerns.

I would concede to the right on the following issues.

  • Religious displays should be permitted on government property.

  • Public schools should be allowed to offer voluntary religious education.

  • Businesses should have free reign to permit smoking on their own property.

  • Cities and counties should be allowed to make their own pornography laws.

  • And when the government starts outlawing some types of food in order to combat obesity, that will be wrong.

Only if funded by private money, and even then, I’m leery of it.

Let’s be clear: The “Culture War,” although it is essentially political, is not mainly about what government should or should not be doing – e.g., reasonable pro-lifers can disagree about government abortion policy, reasonable pacifists can differ about gun control and even defense policy – but about what is good or bad, right or wrong. Values. And that’s where the RW is wrong all the way insofar as it differs, etc.

By which you mean they should be able to prevent their citizens from viewing or manufacturing pornography (in which everyone is a consenting adult, yadda yadda)? As far as I am concerned, this is unacceptable infringement on rights which ought to be protected by the First Amendment. Not that I’m likely to find much opposition here…

By which you mean they should be able to prevent their citizens from viewing or manufacturing pornography (in which everyone is a consenting adult, yadda yadda)? As far as I am concerned, this is unacceptable infringement on rights which ought to be protected by the First Amendment.

I don’t see how this can be a viable debate. People who agree with left-wing positions on these issues will say “Yes, the RW is wrong”, and people who don’t will say “No, the RW is right”. Difference of opinion, end of debate.

I could see trying to make some kind of more limited historical case about certain types of cultural/moral issues, like social equality for the traditionally disenfranchised. I think most people would probably agree that conservatives in the past were wrong to oppose equal rights for blacks, women, and religious minorities, for example. Probably most people here, liberal or conservative, would agree that conservative opposition to equal rights for gays is also wrong.

So maybe we could come up with an argument along the lines that the left has been more reliably correct in its stance on issues where justice and equality should override prejudice and conventional discrimination, for example. And we might try to extrapolate from that the conclusion that in such cases, left-wing opinions are more likely to be trustworthy and therefore “deserve to win”. Even that limited argument would be pretty tenuous in places, though, and of course there would be plenty of conservatives who wouldn’t buy it.

But things like abortion? Where are we going to get a common perspective even to start evaluating any kind of objective or bipartisan answer to the question of whether left-wing or right-wing views are more trustworthy when it comes to abortion? A fruitless exercise, if you ask me.

I take a more nuanced view of your concessions.

Religious Displays - I don’t have a problem with religious affects on one’s person, e.g.: crosses, scarves, rosary, etc… I’m even okay with an employee who wants to have a bible at his/her desk, as long as there are no prayer meetings or proselytizings afoot. I have a huge problem with overt proclamations of specific faiths on government property, or anything approaching a grey area that could be considered an attempt to challenge the Establishment clause.

Religion in Public Schools - No way. How’s that for nuance? School is for teaching of provable, testable, repeatable facts and analyses, not for the advancement of theism. A publicly funded educational institution should absolutely not be involved in the promotion of any religion in any way. If students want to gather together in prayer circles outside class that’s fine, but the school and its faculty should have nothing to do with religious instruction in an official capacity.

Smoking at Work - Nope, unless it’s in an enclosed area, apart from general pedestrian thoroughfares, and has no chance to affect anyone not interested in ingesting the nicotine waste product.

States Rights for Pornography - All this does is create 50 different interpretations of what pornography is. I actually don’t understand why anyone would want this.

Banning Cheeseburgers - I’m on the fence on this one. Clearly, certain foods are very bad for you, far outweighing the benefit of whatever nutrition is provided. At times I can understand doing for those who don’t have the willpower to do for themselves. However, personally, I wouldn’t like it if the ability to control my diet myself was taken out of my hands.

Would that include a Satanist one of Jesus burning in Hell ? An atheist version consisting of a big slab engraved with a long list of religious atrocities ? Who gets to decide what gets put up with limited space ?

Let me guess; somehow, it just happens that the reasonable religious display to put up will be yours.

It also announces to whomever does NOT belong to the favored religion that they can expect bigotry. If I end up in a court with the Ten Commandments on the wall and a judge with crosses on his robe, I know better than to expect a fair trial unless I’m the judge’s particular variety of Christian.

The real trick with these is keeping things fair for the nonmajority religions (and the non-majority non-religious) - some of us don’t want our court buildings branded with the ten commandments. That and that whole church and state thing…we’re not running a theocracy here. At the moment. Yet.

Oh, on edit - I don’t mind education about religions (as long as all the options are covered) - comparative religion classes would do people good. But if you’re talking about prostelying and indoctrination for religions, forget it. We let them have their own churches to do that in.

I could concede this but I’d like enforced regulations on air-scrubbing or whatever for ‘mixed’ businesses. You can’t make a table non-smoking just by removing the ashtray. Also I’d favor smoking being banned around the main entrance to establishments - there are other places to smoke on your break.

Regarding public and openly available displays, sure - I don’t mind public nudity laws either. But I violently oppose this for privately excanged materials between consenting adults on principle.

I agree - the issues arise when things are restricted or access to things are limited. You know, things like freedom from religion, smoke-free air, and, er, ‘erotic art’.

On the subject of concession, I don’t know of anything I’d completely concede to the righties, but the left’s stances on gun control and automatic favoring of the ecology side aren’t great either - in both those cases I’d favor a moderate approach drawing from the perspectives of both sides.

No. There’s a limited amount of space available on most government property, which means that some decisions would have to be made about which religious displays are allowed. And inevitably, I have a feeling it would be the majority religion in the area, which leaves those with minority religious views unrepresented in an official forum.

No. Children should not be forced to say to authority figures in their educational settings “I’m not going to participate in the religious education.” That’s just a way for schools to single out children that are different from the rest, and children are required by law to be in school. It marks certain children out as “not us,” if the majority of the other children (and teachers) participate.

I’m ambivalent about the rest, but I had strong opinions about these two.

It is reassuring, at any rate, that while we do have some conservatives on this Board, nobody is trying to argue this thing from Pat Buchanan’s POV.

Which government in the world currently does this?

That would be hard for some of us - I’m Catholic, and some other conservatives here are as well.

I’d say the opposite - each side chooses to ephasize perfectly good basic values. Where the trouble arises is in their applications to real-world applications - i.e., there is nothing wrong with believing that “families” are a good thing for society and ought to be encouraged; the trouble arises when attempting to define “families”, to create policies which encourage them, etc.

The typical conservative values are good things - self-sufficiency, support for the importance of families and children, healthy pride in self, community and country, being honourable in one’s dealings, etc.

Similarly the typical liberal values are also good things - empathy and compassion for others, support for personal freedoms, care of the environment, etc.

Note that these values are not dichotomous, but merely a description of what each side chooses to emphasize. The same person can, and often does, believe in (say) both self-sufficiency and compassion for others; the typical conservative tends to be tempermentally more drawn to one, and the typical liberal to the other - but both are, in and of themselves, good. The difficulty arises when one is forced to choose between 'em, and in that reasonable people can disagree.