As the 2008 presidential campaign mercifully drew to a close, several media pundits were suggesting that America’s culture war is also coming to an end, or at least withdrawing into a long and chilly hibernation. This is wishful thinking.
In a USA Today column titled “An election that is, and isn’t, about God,” Stephen Prothero contends that, “2008 is the year that Democrats found faith, in effect leveling the religious playing field. This doesn’t mean that every election from here forth will be faith-focused. In fact, religion’s role in politics might just recede into the background.”
Prothero, the chairman of Boston University Religion Department, believes that with both Republicans and Democrats talking about God, “there will be less to gain from discussing” religion, and political discourse will be “less about Jesus and more about jobs.”
Peter Beinart writes in a Washington Post column, “Last of the Culture Warriors,” that America has “turned on Sarah Palin.” Why? Because “Palin’s brand is culture war, and in America today culture war no longer sells. The struggle that began in the 1960s – which put questions of racial, sexual and religious identity at the forefront of American politics – may be ending. Palin is the end of the line.”
Beinart, former editor of The New Republic, argues that the newly risen generation is more amenable to feminism and gay rights, and that “economic collapse” has Americans focused on their pocketbooks. Americans are ignoring Palin because she is, “depicting the campaign as a struggle between the culturally familiar and the culturally threatening, the culturally traditional and the culturally exotic.” Palin “may be the last culture warrior on a national ticket for a very long time.”
These opinions must tickle the ears of New Age guru Deepak Chopra. In a strikingly bitter and hateful Washington Post commentary, “Please Keep God Out of the Voting Booth,” Chopra empties both barrels at the Religious Right. “Can we hope that religious voting will return to being a private matter? In the past, various noxious movements that were anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic made grabs for political leverage, only to sink back into the miasma. Is something like that about to happen now?”
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