As Democrats bet even more of their future on identity politics, and President Trump spends more time on ‘nativism,’ the Americans who hoped for more focus on economics and policy are being forced to wait until at least 2020. It appears, to Addison Del Mastro writing at The American Conservative, that America is slipping back, after a brief respite led by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, back into the culture war dynamic that has ruled politics for years. He writes:
At least since Pat Buchanan’s famous 1992 Republican National Convention speech that “sounded better in the original German,” Americans have been divided over so-called “culture war” issues.
Social issues tend to strike at people’s most deeply held beliefs. It is hard to understand differing positions as political disagreements only. They are not the sort of issues that lend themselves to compromise or politicking. They invariably become—because they are—moral, ethical, and religious disagreements.
The proper areas of action for the federal government, which is to say the ones for which it was mainly intended, are mostly managerial, technocratic, and soporific: funding and maintaining the major infrastructure and shaping general infrastructure policy; crafting conditions for economic growth; ensuring nationwide environmental quality; weighing the optimal level of taxation and public benefits.
The economic nationalism of Donald Trump and the economic populism of Bernie Sanders did, for a time, sideline the old culture war dynamic. But as Trump ditches his economic nationalism for nativism, and as the mainstream Democrats double down on identity politics, we’re not going to get a chance for relief at least until 2020.
Let’s direct more of our limited political capital toward those (relatively few) policy areas in which the federal government can actually help build civic consensus and serve the American people.
Read more here.