Sunday, April 8, 2012

Cultural Disconnects and You

There was an interesting piece in the New York Times Op-Ed (if the paywall is an issue, google "Cultural Liberalism is Not Enough") that I think says a lot more than it means to. The basic argument goes that while the US has basically reached a consensus on "cultural" issues, effecting true change requires economic measures as well. It tracks the modern history of liberalism, arguing that liberals have overpromised and underdelivered in regards to the the impact of large-scale economic issues.
I buy the central thesis that a simplistic view of "rights" as mere legal abilities is insufficient, and that economic factors far out of an individuals control determine a large portion of what sort of life they can live. But I take issue with the idea that "Cultural Liberalism" is winning. This is sort of the "First World Problems" of a specific brand of Centrist argumentation. Amongst well-educated "elites," by and large cultural liberalism is victorious. The debates essentially come down to liberals vs. libertarians. The entire point, however, is that this true only for a small portion of the population.
The emergence of Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Michelle Bachmann as national figures show that a lot of society is just generally dismayed with the direction America is going, and wants to bring us back to the America of the past. As well, Amendment 1 will in all probability pass the statewide referendum this month, banning Gay Marriage in a North Carolina that is relatively representative of the nation's views at large. Personally, I find the views of the three aforementioned figures at best hypocritical and at worst morally reprehensible, but the very idea that most Duke students (conjecture, yes, but also probably true) think that, and yet much of the nation supports them shows that we are living in a far-too-polarized world.
What do you guys think?

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