Trump enjoyed getting in the middle of the culture wars. He thought it was good for him politically. ... Biden has the exact opposite instinct. The incentives are simply not there for him to engage.
“Trump enjoyed getting in the middle of the culture wars,” Mackowiak said. “He thought it was good for him politically. He thought it angered all of his enemies – the cultural elites, the hard left, the Democratic Party nationally. Biden has the exact opposite instinct. The incentives are simply not there for him to engage.”
Now that Trump is out of office and on the sidelines, the culture wars are back. And there are no signs of a cease-fire anytime soon.
After the company that oversees Dr. Seuss’ estate decided to cease publication and sales of six of his titles because of racist and insensitive imagery, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted a video of himself reading “Green Eggs and Ham” – a classic book that wasn’t on the to-be-discontinued list.
When the makers of Mr. Potato Head decided the toy should be genderless and dropped “Mr.” from the name, conservatives screamed the move was part of the left’s “cancel culture.” Social media tried to drag Biden into the fray, causing PolitiFact to clarify the change was a company decision.
Public ostracism also has been a weapon of the right. In 2003, the Dixie Chicks (now known simply as The Chicks) were blacklisted by thousands of radio stations after lead singer Natalie Maines slammed George W. Bush on stage in London.
During the debate over the Equality Act, a congressional bill that would bar discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill., placed the transgender pride flag outside her office in support of her transgender child. Across the hallway, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., responded by hanging a sign that proclaimed, “There are two genders: Male & Female.”
In case there was any doubt to whom the message was directed, Greene wrote on Twitter that she posted the sign, so Newman “can look at it every time she opens her door.”
Biden may have stayed silent on many culture issues, but he has spoken through his actions, said Emilie Kao of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington.
On his first day in office, Biden signed a slew of executive orders, including one that aimed to combat discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The order proclaimed every person should be treated with respect and dignity “no matter who they are or whom they love,” and children should be able to learn “without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room or school sports.”
“He may not be commenting on specific things like the pope and Mr. Potato Head, but his actions have spoken quite loudly about where he stands,” said Kao, director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society. “And where he stands is very, very, very radical.”
Kao pointed to a survey in February by the Heritage Foundation in which a majority of respondents (58%) opposed allowing high school students who were born male but identify as female from playing on girls’ sports teams. A slight majority (53%) opposed allowing students to use private facilities, such as showers or locker rooms, assigned to the opposite biological sex.
State legislative initiatives on transgender sports are a response to Congress and “fear of what the White House is doing,” Kao said.
Wright warned that Republicans could pay politically for “extreme and oversimplified messaging” on cultural issues.
“‘Owning the libs’ is not a serious policy platform,” Wright said. “There's just no way for Republicans to meaningfully engage in policy debates when a lot of their platform seems to be simply opposing Democratic policies and when they have conspiracy theories and anti-intellectualism spreading in their ranks.
“Under normal political circumstances, a Democrat in the White House and a Democratic Party divided along progressive and moderate lines would be a boon to Republicans,” she said. “But that's not what we're seeing right now.”
Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.