CULTURE WAR POLITICS….Matt Yglesias reminds me today that I had planned to excerpt another part of Garance Franke-Ruta’s article, “Remapping the Culture Debate,” but forgot to do it. Here she’s talking about why low income voters ? who seemingly ought to be receptive to liberal pocketbook politics ? are instead strongly receptive to conservative culture war politics:
Lower-income individuals simply live in a much more disrupted society, with higher divorce rates, more single moms, more abortions, and more interpersonal and interfamily strife, than do the middle- and upper-middle class people they want to be like. It should come as no surprise that the politics of reaction is strongest where there is most to react to. People in states like Massachusetts, for example, which has very high per capita incomes and the lowest divorce rate in the country, are relatively unconcerned about gay marriage, while those in Southern states with much higher poverty, divorce, and single-parenthood rates feel the family to be threatened because family life is, in fact, much less stable in their communities. In such environments, where there are few paths to social solidarity and a great deal of social disruption, the church frequently steps into the breach, further exacerbating the fight.
Maybe I’m just stupid or unobservant, but this particular insight had never really occured to me before. Liberal bloggers often make snide remarks about the irony of blue states being more “moral” than red states ? lower crime rates, less divorce, etc. ? but then don’t put two and two together. If it’s true that red states tend to have more social disruption, then it makes sense that red state voters are going to be unusually vulnerable to politicians who focus on the evils of “moral decay,” doesn’t it? They may indeed be getting suckered by the culture war mongers, who make their living by assuring their audience that of course someone else is to blame for all this, but if they are, it’s only because they’re reacting to the actual conditions of their lives in the first place.
I don’t have anywhere special to take this right now, but it seems like a worthwhile notion to mull over. So mull away.