Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Ever Expanding Culture War

One thing I've noticed of late about conservative politics is how many issues seem to being drawn in a culture war model of political discussion. By culture war I mean a description of an issue or policy as not just wrong on the merits but someone morally offensive and a dire threat to American civilization. Paul Krugman recently found a great example of this in an article denouncing New York City's new bike sharing program Citi Bike in Front Page magazine:
Bicycles are one of the obsessions of Mayor Bloomberg and his transportation secretary Janette Sadik-Khan. Khan is the granddaughter of Imam Alimjan Idris, a Nazi collaborator and principle teacher at an SS school for Imams under Hitler’s Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini. The bio of his son, Wall Street executive Orhan Sadik-Khan, frequently mentions the bombing of the family home in Dresden and surviving trying times after World War II. It neglects to mention that the times were only trying because their side was losing…
In partial revenge, Khan has made many New York streets nearly as impassable as those of her grandfather’s wartime Dresden.
Remember this is the response of a conservative political magazine to the popular idea of allowing people to rent bikes to ride around America's densest city.

These types of bizarre denunciations aren't just limited to more obscure magazines however.  None other than the Wall Street Journal recently ran a video editorial that denounced the Nazi bike plot with such choice gems as, "Do not ask me to enter the minds of the totalitarians running this city." and, "The bike lobby is an all-powerful enterprise."  While it's true that the Journal has had a conservative editorial board since time immemorial, what is fascinating is how the supply side economics and tax cuts conservatism of yesterday is being replaced with Fox News style rabble rousing and culture war.

It's not just bike sharing that is getting drawn into a culture war model of politics either.  Recently Virgina's Republican Governor Bob McDonnell tried to impose a $100 annual fee on owners of hybrid and electric cars.  While North Carolina's state legislature has been trying to stop Tesla from selling their popular electric cars anywhere in the entire state.  One would think that conservative Republicans would like the idea of a new car company coming to town to do business, free enterprise and all that right?  Well if it's associated with liberals in must be bad, and must be stopped.  The entire fate American civilization hangs in the balance.  Or on the pedal, as it were.    

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