Culture Wars/Current Controversies

How Democrats got themselves ensnared in the right’s culture-war trap once again

By Damon Linker, The Week

Democrats were always going to have a tough time in the 2022 midterm elections, given historic trends and the party’s already extremely narrow majorities in Congress. Add in surging inflation and a brutal war being waged in Europe and things begin to look especially bleak.

But that doesn’t mean all of the party’s woes are circumstantial. Some are self-inflicted — especially when it comes to the culture-war issues that increasingly dominate American politics.

In recent years, Republicans have become experts at leveraging their own extremism on these issues for electoral gain. The game goes like this: Stake out a right-wing position that cheers the GOP’s base, thereby ensuring high turnout in the next election; count on progressive activists to respond with their own mirror-image form of left-wing maximalism and Democratic officeholders to adopt that message as their own; use those words and deeds both to justify the right’s original impulse toward extremism and to portray the Republican Party as the country’s sole defenders of common sense against an insidious form of progressive ideology.

Then rinse and repeat.

If Democrats want to avoid a wipeout in 2022 and perhaps in 2024 as well, they need to stop responding to the right’s extremism with a counter-extremism of their own.


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