Just when it seemed that the left would declare the Culture War over (again!), someone ruined everything and let off a volley. Old wounds reopened, and both sides are firing at each other with a vengeance.
Indeed, the 2021 Virginia election was all about culture. What changed the game was the fight over critical race theory, radical sex education, gender ideology, and procured abortion. The controversy awakened Mama Bear instincts in suburbia over what the children were being taught in the schools. The roars flipped the state.
All across the nation, similar reactions were registered in 2021 election contests. The enormous impact of cultural issues proves that the Culture War is far from being over. When pursued with intelligence, these battles energize voters and leave the left in shambles.
This shift was not supposed to happen in now-purple Virginia. Thus, the 2021 elections teach some vital lessons for those engaged in the Culture War.
The Left Hates the Culture War
The first lesson is that the left hates and fears the Culture War by which conservatives oppose its agenda. Leftists wage war on the Culture War. They prefer to advance their alarming agenda using stealth without debate.
Thus, the left is obsessed with ending the Culture War. Over the last decades, liberals have tried to disparage the Culture War as a throwback from the nineties. They have often declared the war over and called upon conservatives to accept their defeat and move on.
The most common tactic is to deny the war even exists. Conservative culture warriors are, at best, “domestic terrorists” without any legitimacy inside an overwhelming liberal culture. They are to be belittled and despised as “deplorables.” Liberal media do their part by ignoring conservatives and their battles to the greatest possible extent.
However, the real reason why liberals want to end the Culture War is that it frames the debate as a moral battle. The left cannot tolerate definitions of right and wrong. They cannot handle moral arguments that fittingly showcase their unruly passions. The Culture War deniers try to wish the nightmare away.
Never Recognizing Victory or Moral Values
Even while conservatives are still firing, the left wants to declare the conflict over. As part of the war on the Culture War, the left will never recognize the victories of the cultural right. Leftists will ignore, for example, the massive number of abortion clinics closed since the 1990s as if it never happened. They will also deny that critical race theory is taught at schools even when it is found in school curriculums and websites. Whenever the left is confronted about its disastrous policies, it will always insist the solution is more leftism, never less.
The latest liberal tactic is to turn cultural or moral issues into racial ones. Anyone who defends a righteous cause can immediately be labeled a racist, sexist, or other bigoted titles of hatred. Critical race theory is reduced to a “school” issue, not a major paradigm shift.
The left’s total war on the Culture War employs any tactic to deny action on the moral battlefield and achieve its goal of imposing unnatural Marxist philosophies on the nation.
Cultural Issues Matter
One more important lesson from the 2021 elections is that cultural issues matter.
Conservatives need to be convinced that addressing cutting-edge cultural issues can lead to victory. If well-presented, these issues deliver success because they address deep problems inside the souls of countless Americans. They represent legitimate anxieties about the future.
The Culture War has kept these issues alive and before the American public. In election after election, the moral conservatives (with their powerful pro-life voting bloc) have come to the rescue of moderate Republicans who promise everything but deliver next to nothing.
The power of these issues has proven itself despite the lack of support from the liberal establishment. Unexpected victories like 2021 show how effectively they contradict the supposedly prevailing liberal narrative. The irrational ravings of leftists in the face of these victories show their despair and exhaustion. If the Culture War is ineffective, the left has not gotten the word. Its paranoia reveals weakness, not strength.
The Only Option Is to Remain Engaged
The final lesson is to remain engaged despite all the setbacks that appear. Indeed, some conservatives also want to declare the Culture War is over. Author Rod Dreher claims the levees holding back bad culture are broken, and conservatives would best build arks of refuge to ride the waves of the coming storm. His “Benedict Option” calls for a conservative strategic retreat to regroup, thus surrendering the battlefield to an enemy that is in even worse shape and exhausted.
Events like the 2021 elections show that the battle is far from over. It is a war of wills. The only real option is to remain engaged in the Culture War that the left hates and fears. The best strategy is to attack the left’s vulnerable points like critical race theory and drag queen story hours, which seek to transform America into a godless nation without any moral compass.
Above all, conservatives must confide in God to come to their help. Disguised behind the façade of a thousand skirmishes is an all-out war against God and His order. Those who champion His cause can expect His assistance.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book "Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society--Where We've Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go." He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.