One of the sillier stories told to garner support for Barack Obama in 2008 was that he would help bring Americans together by peacefully ending the culture war, a culture war most Americans found tiresome. There was never any reason to believe that Obama would unite Americans, since Obama has always been far to the left on social and cultural issues, going so far as to oppose legislation in Illinois that would have required doctors to provide medical care to infants born after a failed abortion. There was also reason to wonder how tiresome ordinary Americans actually found the culture war, though the exasperation of leftist elites was perfectly understandable, since the culture war arose because millions of Americans would not go along with the left's attempt to refashion America in its image.
By now, of course, it is clear that the only way Obama intends to end the culture war is by helping to win it for the left. This was brought home by a recent article by John Heilemann in New York about Obama's reelection strategy. The intent is to portray Mitt Romney as the embodiment of the evil America that used to exist before the cultural revolutions of the 1960s. Heilemann writes that Obama's campaign will emphasize abortion, immigration, and gay marriage, and Heilemann quotes an anonymous campaign aide as saying, “He’s the fifties, he is retro, he is backward, and we are forward—that’s the basic construct. If you’re a woman, you’re Hispanic, you’re young, or you’ve gotten left out, you look at Romney and say, ‘This f---g guy is gonna take us back to the way it always was, and guess what? I’ve never been part of that.’ ” So much for "hope," but Obama seems deadly serious about change.
Thomas Piatak is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.