You Can't Win the Culture War at the Ballot Box

I see a lot of people who believe in traditional marriage are against using mind altering drugs and who oppose abortion who are very uncomfortable with libertarian positions on those issues. And I sympathize. But if I have learned anything in the 73 years I have been on this earth, it is that the culture war is won in the media, in our everyday lives, in our social interactions and not at the ballot box. Most people who are conservative were raised with conservative values. In many ways, I was not. I am the child of a thrice married single mother and am, myself, a once married single mother. I have learned conservative social values the hard way. By living with the consequences of the alleged freedom represented by the liberal values.

When I became pregnant for the second time, more than 40 years ago, it was very inconvenient. Yes, I was married, but I had just graduated from law school and was preparing to take the California Bar exam. I already had one child. Being a woman and a lawyer back in those days was daunting. Being a woman and a lawyer with a child was even more daunting, because you were, if a woman, supposed to make a choice between children and a career. Being a woman with two children looked truly daunting. Yet, when the doctor who delivered the diagnosis– you’re pregnant– offered me the option of an abortion (it was legal in California at the time) I instinctively reacted with an offended NO. Of course not. This was my child ( and now the father of two of my grandchildren). It took me a while to realize that for me to have been so defensive of my own child, but not of the children of others wa kind of hypocritical. That’s when I became anti-abortion. I firmly believe, and the evidence supports that a child is a separate person. It ha its own different DNA right from the beginning. No. I wasn’t going to abort my child. More important than my own personal story is the way in which education and appeal to humanist values is gradually turning people of all ages against abortion. Yes its a long and difficult fight because we don’t have the firepower that the left has. The technology of sonograms has helped a lot, allowing people to see the humanity of the unborn child. But the cultural tide against abortion has not been brought about by changes in the law. Indeed, the law has only become increasingly leftist. It has been brought about by a steady campaign of empathetic, loving education about the reality of abortion.

I think the same will be true about drugs. It is not as if we have a choice between a drug free society in which some mind altering drugs are banned and a society in which marijuana is freely sold. Marijuana is illegal in most states and is almost freely sold in every state of the union. If you want to win that war, again, education is the key. The war on cigarettes may include a lot of prohibitions, but, basically they are still legal. People have given up smoking in large numbers not because it is illegal or even difficult , but because they are persuaded that it is bad for their health. Similarly, it is fairly easy to prove that drugs like cocaine, methamphetimines, heroin and, yes, even marijuana in large doses and continuous use, is bad for your health.

We have lost the cultural war on traditional marriage because we have not defended marriage against its first set of attackers– the people who promote no fault divorce along with The people who promote marriage as a big party and hearts and flowers rather than as a sacred covenant. The people who are willing to vote for a self proclaimed serial adulterer have no reason to oppose same sex marriage.The war against marriage has been carried out in the media, in movies, on television in books and in the yielding of many of us to our more selfish instincts. The idea that being unhappy i your marriage because you don’t find it personally fulfilling is a good reason to get divorced is the enemy of traditional marriage. If we are not willing to take on that idea and assert that marriage is about children and that we owe a duty and an obligation to stick with it even in times that we are unhappy, then we should not be surprised that people who think that marriage is about nothing more than feelings toward each other, which, if they disappear, justify the end of the marriage, also think that same sex attracted people are entitled to their own moment of happiness. When we see illicit affairs (Ashley Madison) and prostitution (Pretty Woman) glamorized on screen we should not be so surprised at the downstream effects.

This is not to say that we should not fight the culture war. We should and we must fight it. But we need to fight it on the right battlefields. Some time again Brent Bozell took on the creators of Two and Half Men, the TV show about a rich libertine played by Charlie Sheen and his brother and brother’s son. He rightly criticized it for glamorizing drug use and promiscuous sex. Sadly, Charlie Sheen, in his own real life, a guy who wa earning something like two million dollars a year, demonstrated in his own life what happens when you live for sex and drugs. I like to think that Chuck Lorre, the creator of Two and a Half Men, is doing some penance by making Moms, a Tv series about the struggles of a mother, daughter and granddaughter who are all single moms and who have problems with addiction. The real life of a recovering addict is AA meetings and we see a lot of those in Moms. It is money struggles and heart break. And we see a lot of that too. It is by no means a perfect show, but by showing the bad consequences of this behavior (including a sad and all too realistic episode where a recovering drug addict relapses and dies of an overdose) Lorre is adding some sobriety (pun intended) with the usual Hollywood glorification of sex drugs and rock and roll.

One of the lessons I learned on becoming a real Christian instead of a nominal Christian, wa that the rules in the Bible were a guide for happy living. God did not make these rules because God is a prude who doesn’t want us to have any fun.. He made these rules because He wants us to live happy and fulfilling lives. When we can communicate to others that our values are what guide us to a happy life, we will start winning the culture war.