It was Tuesday when I warned that the unnecessarily-fanned flames of several Culture War flashpoints threatened to make this into the kind of presidential election I detest — one that consists entirely of yelling about social issues (about which no one changes anyone else’s minds, which makes them ideal tools for infuriating the base and raising money to keep the pointless partisan strife going), rather than talking about issues more central to the job of president, such as foreign affairs, national security and the economy.
Now, it seems the MSM is catching up with me. This AP story was on the front page of The State this morning:
WASHINGTON — All of a sudden, abortion, contraception and gay marriage are at the center of American political discourse, with the struggling — though improving — economy pushed to the background.
Social issues don’t typically dominate the discussion in shaky economies. But they do raise emotions important to factors like voter turnout. And they can be key tools for political candidates clamoring for attention, campaign cash or just a change of subject in an election year.
“The public is reacting to what it’s hearing about,” said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center. In a political season, he said, “when the red meat is thrown out there, the politicians are going to go after it.”…
Precisely. And on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, also this morning:
In a year where the economy was supposed to dominate the November elections, the contraception backlash showed that social issues could have a powerful influence on the race. Republicans used the controversy to paint Mr. Obama as assailing religious rights—and adding another black mark against the 2010 health overhaul that spawned the policy….
Yep. That’s what I’ve been on about.
In any case, you were warned of it here first. And of course, the 137 comments on my previous post (so far) are indicative that even smart people, such as you, my readers, can’t resist rising to such bait. What hope do we have that the rest of the country will let it go, and allow us to return to more relevant (to the job of president) issues?