Fox News political analyst Juan Williams begins his latest column in The Hill by declaring, “Call in the dogs. Pack up the tent. Culture wars in American politics are done.”
According to Williams, Donald Trump’s triumph over the Republican field has defeated the Religious Right once and for all. If only it were so.
The real estate heir’s inability to clearly articulate policy positions and his acceptance by the GOP’s base should not be mistaken for surrender.
It demonstrates a stunning degree of tone deafness or perhaps a willful blindness that Williams would make the argument that the “culture wars” are dead in the immediate aftermath of North Carolina enacting HB2. Or in the aftermath of Tennessee’s state legislature passing a bill that would allow therapists to discriminate against patients based on their sexual orientation. (Thankfully the governor vetoed it.) Or Mississippi passing legislation that would allow businesses to deny services to LGBT individuals. Or Republican lawmakers in states across the country enacting an unprecedented number of anti-abortion laws.
Women’s access to birth control is still a matter of public debate and gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals can still face discrimination across wide swaths of our country in the workplace, in housing, and even when attempting to access basic services.
Perhaps Williams is ignorant of his own employer’s coverage of phony “War on Christmas” stories every holiday season.
Furthermore, claiming Donald Trump’s candidacy represents the end of the culture wars denies the basic premise of his campaign. His attacks on women, Muslims, immigrants and political correctness as a whole are part and parcel of the culture wars. Not to mention that in speech after speech he declares that if he is president “we are going to staring saying Merry Christmas again.” He says the Bible is his favorite book, a clear message to the Religious Right.
Donald Trump might be ok with Caitlyn Jenner using the women’s room — just as he claims his ban on travel into the United States by Muslims will not apply to the newly elected mayor of London — but that doesn’t mean his White House will be friendly to groups whose rights are under assault from conservatives.
The vast majority of his policies are simply a jumble of word salad punctuated with rambling non sequiturs about “winning” and “making America great again.” His pronouncements on abortion rights are incoherent and sometimes out of step with the Right, but he has nevertheless pledged to support anti-choice legislation and appoint judges who will seek to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Many of the generals who have led the culture war for decades are rallying to Trump’s cause. Phyllis Schlafly is actively calling on Christian leaders to support the presumptive Republican nominee, announcing, “there will be only two viable candidates to choose from this fall, only one of whom will safeguard our country against immigration — and Jesus will not be on the ballot.”
Other anti-abortion warriors are now endorsing Trump following the announcement that John Mashburn, a longtime ally of the movement as a Senate staffer, has joined his campaign as policy director.
“If elected, no doubt John Mashburn will serve you well as you fulfill your campaign promises to defund Planned Parenthood, advance and sign into law the popular Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and appoint Justices to the bench who will protect and defend the Constitution,” wrote Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser.
Far from surrendering, Donald Trump represents a new front in battles that have been waged for decades. A candidate who is more than happy to use racial and religious resentment to win the Republican nomination, and who leaves no doubt he would continue to do so in the White House, does not represent the end of the culture wars.