Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Are Happy Days Ahead Again?

The astute EJ Dionne wrote a very interesting piece in the Washington Post asking: Whatever happened to the culture wars that dominated American politics from 2000- 2004?

For an answer, Dionne draws an interesting parallel to the the 1928 election, when Hoover- Republicans of Prohibition and unbridled capitalism handily defeated Democrats, who wanted to booze again and elect the first non- Protestant president, NY Governor Al Smith. With Hoover's triumph, the economic boom of the '20s seemed assured to last.

Four years later, FDR won a landslide against forces he branded "economic royalists." Whether a guy is allowed buy a 10- cent beer doesn't seem to matter when the guy doesn't even have the 10 cents.

Similarly, Dionne states, voters who cited "cultural issues" as pressing when pulling the lever for the anti- gay marriage, pro- life, pro- tax cut George W. Bush in 2000, and again in '04, have bigger concerns now. That's not to say it will necessarily lead to a Democratic victory in November, as Dionne points out, national security concerns have led a once unabashedly right- of- center Republican party to nominate John McCain, one of their most moderate voices, for president.

So it's unclear how it will play out. What is clear, is priorities have changed again, and the culture wars may be on hold for now. That spells bad news for Bill O'Reilly, Will & Grace and people who liked debating what constitutes the term "sexual relations."

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