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Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Posted by Jake
Bi-Polar Nation -- America, Divided

Sullivan has a good take on the ongoing culture war (with some scary quote from the Democratic Underground).

Evoking the deep divides of the Vietnam war is also rhetorical over-kill. We're not there yet. At the same time, the gulf between liberals and conservatives, broadly speaking, or between Bush-supporters and Bush-haters, between young and old, between South and North, has rarely been as profound or as bitter than now. The fact that the United States is also at the beginning of a long war against Islamo-fascism makes the divisions more acrimonious and emotionally fraught. You feel at times, in many conversations and interactions, caught between two magnetic poles, whose cultural power is so strong that maintaining any position in between them becomes harder and harder.


I am not as concerned as the conventional wisdom about the divisions in this country, however. There was a culture war going on in this country 30 years ago. There was one prior and after the Civil War. There was one during the Alien and Sedition Acts. As best as I can tell, there is always a culture war going on in America.

So I have to say that the one going on now doesn't entirely concern me. It is true that there is going to be a dramatic restructuring during this election, but after that both parties (and both sides) will do what they always do: wise up and realize that the American people are somewhere in the center and try to compete for that again.

Brian -- I agree, Jake, but there's something else that should be pointed out, something that you should understand better than the average person: that center, thanks to the current culture war, is moving to the right. In my 2.5 years at yale, particularly in the past year, I've seen a dramatic shift. While the liberals still dominate the campus, it seems that they are less common, less vocal, and less tolerated. Conseratives, on the other hand, who could have been previously termed as the Angry Right, have calmed down, increased their ranks, and gained acceptance. I don't think the culture war is ever won or lost, but after each of the battles you mention above, one group clearly falls back to regroup before their next strike. I think the four years of the second Bush presidency will have the Liberals in this country running for cover.


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