Frank Rich has a strange editorial in NYT where he argues that Obama lifting the ban on federal funding stem cell research indicates the culture wars are over, because politicians and pundits had better things to talk about this week (like the economy sucking ass). He cites how Prohibition was one of the early culture wars crusades (which he tries to equate to today's Pro-Life crowd) and how Americans don't like the gubment intruding on their business since we have bigger things to worry about. Actually, Prohibition was primarily a Progressive reform in the 20s and the issue gained much prominence once women were given the right to vote (sorry ladies, but history isn't always convenient). But let's not split hairs here, because Mr. Rich might be onto something.
While the Bill O' Reilly wing of the GOP has been talking about cultural decay and unwed mothers for a long time (remember Dan Quayle and Murphy Brown?), but the Dems are not free from their own morality crusades. Taxing the bejeezus out of cigarettes for social engineering purposes, banning fast-food restruants, and seeking the elimination of ladies night in New Jersey because it was "discriminating" were all born out of lefty policy ideas. So really, the only difference between these culture warriors is whether the state or the church should tell individuals how to live their private lives. Frank Rich comes out for the state [NYT]:
The new American faith, Allen wrote, was the “secular religion of social consciousness.” It took the form of campaigns for economic and social justice — as exemplified by the New Deal and those movements that challenged it from both the left and the right. It’s too early in our crisis and too early in the new administration to know whether this decade will so closely replicate the 1930s, but so far Obama has far more moral authority than any religious leader in America with the possible exception of his sometime ally, the Rev. Rick Warren.Welcome to the new religion, America.