Culture War Myth Polarized America Essay

Culture War Myth Polarized America Essay-64
One culture was "orthodox," the other "progressive." The disagreement transcended particular issues to encompass different conceptions of moral authority--one side anchored to tradition or the Bible, the other more relativistic.Not only does this transcendental disagreement reverberate throughout both politics and everyday life, Hunter said, but " (2002) the political scientist John Kenneth White, of Catholic University, makes a similar case.The question remains, however, whether actual people are either as extreme or as distinct in their views as the analysts' cultural profiles suggest. In 1998 Alan Wolfe, a sociologist at Boston College, said yes.

One culture was "orthodox," the other "progressive." The disagreement transcended particular issues to encompass different conceptions of moral authority--one side anchored to tradition or the Bible, the other more relativistic.Not only does this transcendental disagreement reverberate throughout both politics and everyday life, Hunter said, but " (2002) the political scientist John Kenneth White, of Catholic University, makes a similar case.

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An odd thing, however, happened to many of the scholars who set out to map this culture war: they couldn't find it.

If the country is split into culturally and politically distinct camps, they ought to be fairly easy to locate.

The presidential election was tight, especially considering that an incumbent president was in the race.

Republicans picked up four Senate seats, but the House of Representatives barely budged.

I wound up believing that a dichotomy holds the solution to the puzzle: American politics is polarized but the American public is not.

In fact, what may be the most striking feature of the contemporary American landscape--a surprise, given today's bitterly adversarial politics--is not the culture war but the culture peace.

To political analysts, who live in a world of zero-sum contests between two political parties, it seems natural to conclude that partisan division entails cultural division. In his book " (his italics) and goes on to say, "The loyalties of American voters are now almost perfectly divided between the Democrats and Republicans, a historical political deadlock that inflames the passions of politicians and citizens alike." In a two-party universe that is indeed how things look. The fastest-growing group in American politics is independents, many of them centrists who identify with neither party and can tip the balance in close elections.

According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, since the Iraq War 30 percent of Americans have identified themselves as Republicans, 31 percent as Democrats, and 39 percent as independents (or "other"). On election day, of course, independents who want to vote almost always have to choose between a Republican and a Democrat.

Yes, America today is divided over the question of whether America is divided. The notion of a country deeply and fundamentally divided over core moral and political values soon made its way into politics; in 1992 Patrick Buchanan told the Republicans at their national convention that they were fighting "a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself." By 1996, in his singeing dissent in the gay-rights case , Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia could accuse the Court of "tak[ing] sides in the culture wars," and everyone knew exactly what he meant.

On one side are those who divide Americans into two sides; on the other are all the rest. In 1991 James Davison Hunter, a professor of sociology and religious studies at the University of Virginia, made his mark with an influential book called .

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