Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Culture War

Remember the culture war? That endless divide between Americans over such hot-button issues as abortion, gay marriage, gun control, and the like? The war that was supposed to be over as we all moved toward an enlightened post-culture-war political future where we all smiled, got along, taught the world to sing and bought it a Coke?

Apparently the news is out: we're still fighting:
It wasn't supposed to be a culture-war election, and not only because Iraq and the economy had shoved values issues into the background. The Republican candidate, at least back in his early, presumptive days, was notoriously uncomfortable talking about religion, and many conservative Christian leaders were equally uncomfortable about him. The Democratic candidate, by contrast, was at ease with his faith, biblically fluent, and reportedly doing an excellent job of reaching out to the elusive values voter. [...]

But something happened on the way to the party conventions. At a much ballyhooed discussion at Saddleback Church, one of America's biggest megachurches, the Rev. Rick Warren quizzed both candidates on their deepest convictions. McCain came across as confident and certain, particularly on the hot-button question of when life begins. Obama seemed to struggle with nuances. In front of a predominantly evangelical audience, certainty played better than nuance. McCain came out of Saddleback with a bounce and new confidence. Maybe he could talk this talk, after all? And, lo, when the conventions came, there was much faith-related talk as well as some important faith-related choices. [...]

The Palin pick was McCain's way of reigniting the culture war, a limited culture war, while not getting too directly involved in it. Depending on how it works out, it will be deemed a brilliant or disastrous strategy. At the very least, it is a risky one.

It's amazing. This was supposed to be a kinder, gentler election; Americans were supposed to overlook, with benignant charity, the contradictions between Barack Obama's words of hope and inclusion and his disturbingly extremist support for both partial-birth and post-birth abortions; they were supposed to become fired up about the candidate of change, and not delve too deeply into this candidate's past connections and racist-rhetoric mentor; they were supposed to elevate symbol over substance, and look at such things as the "seal of the Candidate" and the planned Brandenburg Gate address as proof that Barack was presidential, inevitable, poised on the brink of history, singularly placed to engineer change we could believe in; in short, that he was The One.

But apparently, conservative Americans, particularly those of us who are proud to be social conservatives and even, when necessary, single-issue voters, never got our copy of the script. We refused to accept a definition of "bipartisanship" which meant that conservatives had to surrender everything, in exchange for airy promises and a slightly less open contempt from our counterparts on the left; we failed to see Barack as The One, and saw instead the hubris behind the attempts by his campaign to create around him the aura of inevitability; we heard the word "change" a lot, but started to have the uneasy suspicion that once again, this Democrat was only referring like so many others before him to what would be left in our pockets once his programs and plans led to calls for tax increases on "the rich," increasingly defined as anyone who does not currently rely on government assistance in some form or other (that is, most of us).

The selection of Governor Palin as his running mate made John McCain a whole lot more palatable to a whole lot of us seemingly overnight. And it did something else, too; it caused the left to reveal prematurely the real face under the mask of all of this talk of bipartisanship, eschewing the old ways, learning to respect each other and get along, and moving past the endless skirmishes in the cultural war that rages on. It caused them to show us what life for conservatives during an Obama presidency would really have been like:

Hatred for motherhood, for pro-life values, and even for special-needs children. Hatred for people who take the Christian religion seriously; a concerted effort to weaken our ability to affect the body politic by defining us as "Christianists" and marginalizing us at every opportunity, most especially by parading an endless series of left-wing quisling Christian pastors whose ideas owe more to Marx than to Jesus Christ. Hatred for guns and the people who use them for such innocent pursuits as hunting or self-protection; hatred for people who think sex belongs in marriage, not in the instructional materials handed out in the second grade. Hatred for people who don't embrace gay marriage as normal and natural and healthy; hatred for people whose large families are decried as abnormal, unnatural, and unhealthy. Hatred for any woman who strays away from the feminist agenda; hatred for any man who appreciates his wife's traditionalism and desire to raise her own children.

The level of absolutely vile loathing poured forth following the Palin pick is a wake-up call for all of us: we're the ones being asked to lay down our arms in the culture war, but the object is not to seek real compromise. It is to force us to surrender, to force us to embrace the brave new world where gay marriage is normal but more than two children born in a family isn't, where guns are contraband but condoms mandatory, where the disabled are targeted for elimination before birth and marginalized if they're allowed to live; where a woman's place is in the workplace, and her only value measured in the tax dollars confiscated from her paycheck to support a growing number of liberal programs designed to keep enough people in a state of poverty and dependence to be certain that there will always be enough Democratic voters to ensure Democratic victories in any election.

The culture war isn't over, and never will be so long as the innocent are deprived of life, and the moral values of liberalism, socialism and relativism attempt to replace Judeo-Christian principles and common sense as the philosophical underpinnings of our nation. If this election has taught us anything else, it has certainly reminded us that the calls for a cease-fire in the culture war originate from those who want us to turn our backs on the unborn, on marriage and the family, and on those values that made our nation great; it has also taught us that accepting that call and refusing to fight for America means losing her forever.

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