Why Are We Having a Culture War Right Now?

As I keep saying, conservatives need to stop treating the political arena just as a source of entertainment, and instead get involved in it so we can begin to fight and win the information war. Here is Robert Tracinski writing at The Federalist making a similar point:

In effect, politics is a spectator sport right now. We can speculate about outcomes and project their consequences, but our talking doesn’t influence any of it. It’s not participatory—not for the public, and not for those of us who write and talk with the hope of convincing the public.

This is very dangerous over the long term. One of the things Alexis de Tocqueville liked to point out about the difference between the American and European systems of government is that the American viewed himself as a participant in the political arena, while the subjects of Europe’s monarchical regimes tended to view themselves merely as interested observers. Watching politics, for them, was like watching the weather. The outcome affected you, but there was nothing you could do about it.

This sucks the vibrancy and urgency out of the political debate—and it diverts some of that energy over to issues where we can have a direct influence. If all we can do is talk about the issues but not really influence them, then we will focus on those areas where how we talk is the issue. We can’t influence whether President Obama cuts a bad deal with Iran or imposes absurdly restrictive regulations on power plants. But we can influence whether people refer to Bruce Jenner as “she.” So we will put less energy into the first kind of issue and more energy into the second. Idle minds are the culture war’s workshop.

As I’ve observed before, the culture wars will always be with us in some form, because there’s always someone who wants to change the culture, and there’s always someone who wants to preserve it. But we’re going to be fighting about it a lot more this year—in part because of all the other important things we’re not fighting over.

Read more: The Federalist

Image credit: conventionofstates.com.