by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The nation’s foremost culture warrior is President Donald J. Trump.
He wouldn’t, at first blush, seem well suited to the part. Trump once appeared on the cover of Playboy. He has been married three times. He ran beauty pageants and was a frequent guest on the Howard Stern radio show. His “locker-room talk” captured on the infamous Access Hollywood tape didn’t, shall we say, demonstrate a well-honed sense of propriety.
There is no way Trump could be a credible combatant in the culture war as it existed for the past 40 years. But he has reoriented the main lines of battle away from issues related to religion and sexual morality onto the grounds of populism and nationalism. Trump’s culture war is fundamentally the people versus the elite, national sovereignty versus cosmopolitanism, and patriotism versus multiculturalism.
It’s the difference, in a nutshell, between fighting over gay rights or immigration, over the breakdown in marriage or Black Lives Matter. The new war is just as emotionally charged as the old one. It, too, involves fundamental questions about who we are as a people, which are always more fraught than the debate over the appropriate tax rate or whether or not we should have a defense sequester.