Maggie Gallagher

What does it mean? Even in the midst of economic and political meltdown, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh was still between 10 and 20 points ahead of his potential Republican challengers. Why did Bayh announce he will not run for re-election?

"Even pols are sick of Washington," blared the headline. His friend and former chief of staff, former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, told the press, "Those frustrations have increasingly worn on him, and I think his willingness to tolerate the frustrations has decreased over time."

Evan Bayh is tired of being the middle patch of ground in a culture war that never seems to end, never seems to get anywhere. 

Culture war is not a term we hear that often anymore because, well, the crucial center of American politics is sick and tired of the very idea of culture war.

But author and professor James Davison Hunter's concept still best explains where we are today in American politics, where the vast center of America is stuck in a tug-of-war between two deeply competing visions of reality.

Cultural power, explains Hunter, is the power to "name reality." Culture is mostly created in urban centers and spread to the periphery, e.g., Harvard Law School decides that gay marriage is a basic human right, which spreads through judges until it runs smack up into the one source of cultural power in America that is not controlled by urbane centers -- the American people.

Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution

We are by far the most democratic system on earth. A certain form of Euro-liberalism may capture the universities, reinforced by its dominant control over government money, influencing the media and Hollywood. In Europe, the political leaders of the parties respond to this complex of cultural power mostly by submission to it -- it's easier. And then voters are deprived of choice. Where elite political leaders cooperate to end the culture war by giving in, voters do not get to choose between competing visions.

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.