WFB: Culture beats economics

From Matthew Continetti at the Washington Free Beacon:

Polling shows that the economy remains voters’ top priority. But there are signs that the business situation is improving. The dropping unemployment rate is just one example of good economic news. U.S. growth may be subpar, but it is growth nonetheless. Conservatives would be foolish to think that the media will dwell on the economy’s weak spots when the president is a Democrat and his party controls the Senate.

Running bulls will bring in additional revenue to the U.S. Treasury, which will temporarily mask the country’s dire long-term fiscal predicament. The dollar’s status as the global reserve currency will stave off inflation and high interest rates for a while longer. The administration will claim credit despite doing everything in its power to reward friends and punish enemies, delay the recovery, and increase the cost and intrusiveness of government. But even that may not be enough to secure the president’s reelection.

Why? Because culture trumps economics. The tenor of news coverage might lead one to believe that the assault on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation for ending donations to Planned Parenthood, and the debate over the administration ruling that universities and hospitals with religious affiliations must provide contraception to their employees, are winning issues for the Democrats. But any Democratic strategist planning a campaign around these issues might want to think twice.

Such controversies tend to mobilize conservatives more than liberals. As longtime consultant and analyst Jeffrey Bell observes in his excellent book, The Case for Polarized Politics, social issues tend to separate the populist, socially conservative mass from the progressive elite. That is why Republican social policy has been an electoral winner, whether the topic is crime or patriotism or affirmative action or abortion or religious liberty….

The debates over Komen and contraception are not solely about abortion and health care. They are both instances of a liberal minority attempting to coerce an organization to perform acts against its will. Patty Murray’s ridiculous suggestion that Komen’s “dangerous” decision to eliminate the grant to Planned Parenthood was the result of a “partisan witch hunt” is beside the point: Civil associations in a free society have every right to give money to whichever organizations they choose. Meanwhile, Barbara Boxer, M.D., can tell MSNBC that the Department of Health and Human Services contraceptive regulation is “a medical issue” all she wants; it does not change the fact that, if the regulation goes into effect, institutions affiliated with the Catholic Church will be forced to do something that violates fundamental tenets of their religion.

Both stories fit the classic pattern of post-cultural-revolution politics…

Tying the president’s fiscal policies to broader questions of society, culture, life, and freedom is the more effective route, because on these questions Obama has nowhere to go. He is a prisoner of his ideological biases. His elitist defense of social progressivism likely will lead him to commit a gaffe similar to when he said that the Cambridge police acted “stupidly” in arresting Professor Gates of Harvard….

Read it all.

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