Conservatives are losing the culture wars. Why is that? Because we do not know how to win.
Specifically, we do not understand that in order to win you need to be on offense. We are constantly defending territory we hold, and we are losing that territory. We have made no sustained effort to take back territory we have lost. By being on defense, the best “victories” we can hope for are stopping this or that expansion of government or expansion of the Leftist agenda. It does not help when we have elected officials who are supposedly on our side giving away ground to appease the Left.
For example, it was a Republican state senator who proposed “hate crime” legislation in Indiana this year. That law did not pass, but again that is the best we can hope for on far too many issues: We prevent the Left from gaining cultural territory but we do not seek to gain territory and advance our own agenda. What winning looks like is a sustained effort to repeal “hate crime” legislation across the various state legislatures and at the federal level. That can be applied to many other issues as well.
The one area conservatives are winning is the battle over abortion. This is because the Left took all of the territory with one Supreme Court decision in 1973. From that low point, conservatives had nowhere to go but up: There was no more ground to be gained in protecting “abortion rights” from that point forward. Conservatives have spent 40 years chipping away at “abortion rights” with various legislation and activism campaigns. The legal landscape is better for the unborn today that it was twenty years ago as a result.
It has been said that “politics is war by other means,” and just like in a shooting war you cannot win if you are always on defense. You have to gain territory in order to win. Otherwise, the fight becomes a war of attrition, as we hold onto an increasingly smaller part of the culture. Perhaps Donald Trump will motivate us to win again, but his conservative credentials are questionable at best. But as childish and immature as he can be, Trump’s orientation toward being on offense is something we need to emulate across the conservative movement.