Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Culture War: The Front Line of the Political Divide

As America sobers up to the reality of another four more years of Barack Obama, the never-ending culture war continues to rage. I remember back in 2004 when Bush Jr. was reelected and how bad I felt the next day, but this year the response from some losing republicans shows that they can be the biggest sore losers ever. They complain that the demographics have changed, that we're no longer a "traditional America anymore", that their is a secular liberal agenda sweeping the country aided by the media and the public school institutions, and that conservatism will shrink as the white evangelical demographic wanes. They believe this will make liberals and democrats unstoppable in the elections to come. Their fear is very palpable, and judging from the movements in all 50 states to succeed from the union, they are not going to be silent.

Now I hate partisanship, I really do, but I have to admit that I do support a liberal agenda. I support equal rights for gays, a strong wall of separation between religion and government, and laws based on science and reason that would include such things as the full legalization of marijuana and universal healthcare. Now I don't agree with liberals down the line, but I lean towards the left of most social and economic issues. I am an adamant (but fair) secularist, and a voter and I certainly do consider the religion and philosophy of the candidate I vote for. So I guess you can say that I'm a "soldier" in the culture war, or at least I'm part of its Reserves.

Now when we speak of the culture war in the US we are generally speaking about whether it is the general policies outlined from liberals or from conservatives that is in control in the White House, Congress and local government. There is also a culture war between secularists like myself, and those who want religion allowed in government and schools. So let's look at a few areas of the culture war and examine the impact around them.

The Liberal Bias

Now when looking at the "liberal agenda" sweeping the country as evident in this passed election cycle, you'll notice it's a reflection of the changing attitudes of the people. But the conservative will argue that this change in attitude in favor of liberalism is because the media and public school system is brain washing the youth and turning them into liberal robots. I have had several conservatives complain to me personally about this.

Here's what I have to say about this. First, I agree that most of the media and the public school systems have a liberal bias. But there is a reason why this is so and I've written about it before. Historically speaking, the liberal point of view is almost always correct on social issues. Think of slavery, women's rights, and civil rights. Conservatives were against all of the changes that came in these areas back when they were radical and controversial. Now they act as if they were always for them. And what was liberal yesterday, is conservative today. This is called moral progress. Conservatism, almost always backed by religion, is the greatest hindrance to moral progress.

Today one of the great civil rights issues is the struggle for equal rights for gays. Conservatives are against cultural and legal recognition of any aspect of the gay lifestyle. What angers them so much, is that they know they are losing the culture war on this issue and there is little they can do about it. And I guarantee you that in a few decades from now when being gay is no more as controversial as being black, or a woman, or left-handed, and gays have their equal rights, most religious conservatives will have came around to the liberal side on the issue, and will be trying hard to forget that they once were vehemently opposed to gays as they were towards women and black people.

So the liberal bias is justified, especially when you consider that in every generation, conservatives draw the line and say the buck stops here on moral progress. If we took that seriously, we'd still be back in the Jim Crow south. So no, moral progressives like myself will not allow religious and closed minded conservatives to draw moral lines where they expect everyone to yield to.

Demographic Changes

We are within a few decades of majority non-white US. This has caused a lot of concern and fear amongst mostly conservative thinking whites who fear that their long-held taken-for-granted majority and control over politics will fade. Even when considering that the percentage of white voters in the presidential election was 72%, higher than the percentage of whites in general, they fear living in a country where they'll be a minority. Now on immigration, I am a bit more conservative than the typical liberal. I support a strong border and control over who is allowed into the country. I support controlled immigration because I prefer that we diversify who enters the US so that it isn't mostly coming from Mexico and Latin America and instead reflects the world as a whole.

In short, I am fine with no one having the majority population, and I enjoy diversity. As long as we continue to assimilate immigrants, we can ensure that the US will prosper culturally in the years to come. Now how this affects the culture war seems obvious. The majority of non-whites vote democrat and voted for Obama. This seems like a win for the democrats looking forward, but I have a feeling that if conservatives liberalize their immigration stances, as it seems they will inevitably have to do, they can attract large numbers of Latinos. This is because Latinos are generally more religious and conservative on social issues and this actually has me quite concerned knowing that the largest growing ethnic populations immigrating to the US are socially conservative. I don't know exactly what kind of problem this could pose in the fight for secularism in the years ahead, but there is evidence that there is growing number of "nones" (no religious affiliation) among younger Latinos that mirrors that of whites.

Who is Winning the Culture War?

It seems that as the US becomes less and less religious, the trend towards liberal politics increases. This will spell good news in the years to come. Liberals are wining the culture war, so if you stand for equality, secularism, and for science and reason guiding our futures, rest assured that the theocrats are being kept at bay. This does not mean that we should declare victory; the war is not over and may never be, and its battles take place in schools and court rooms nearly everyday.

Finally, if there is just one point where I can leave an impression on your mind, it is that I urge you to think deeply about what you stand for, and make sure you have a damn good argument to back it up. That's what it means to be well informed, and that's what it means to be a critical thinker.

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