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Issue of Culture War in American Political-social Landscape

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After Hunter’s analysis deviated the use of culture in an anthropological sense, culture war became rampant in the 1990s American political landscape. Williams posits that the “culture war” phrase highlighted the vital role of differences in priorities, values, and lifestyles in American politics. Culture war issues revolved around family, gender, religion, and sex and often thought of cultural as they seemed to involve morals and values rather than material and economic interests. According to Miller, the culture war issues assumed a “private” sphere and the establishment of human motivations instead of public concerns, such as the economy and political power. The mainstream media captured “culture-war issues” as a phrase set aside to deal with matters of family, religion, and sexuality to mobilize social conservatives. With the phrase capturing issues that concern morality, the political class and the media deviated from using it to mobilize voters on issues, such as foreign policy, taxes, or budget. Nevertheless, the term “culture war” began to appear in the 1990s American politics, with politicians from Democrat and Republican Parties using the phrase to mobilize voters.

In the 1990s, culture-wars gained coherence in the American political landscape, based on individual liberty and religious freedom. Williams posits that the center of culture wars in the 1990s focused on uproars over the federal government’s interference in promoting LGBTQ and abortion rights, particularly allowing adoption and military service for gays and lesbians. It is important to note that controversies over gay rights and abortion were tied to religious freedom and individual liberty principles. Ditto and Koleva claim that social conservatives trumpeted issues about abortion and gay rights consistently and vociferously. The mainstream media branded conservatives as the “Christian Right” who later became Republican’s political base and electorate. Williams relied on President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 to demonstrate the impact of culture-wars in the 1990s political landscape. During President Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, the sex scandal focused on culture war issues of gender, sex, and family, and significantly divided the political elite and parties depending on whether they supported conservatism or progressivism. Furthermore, Williams claims that the culture war issues contributed to the resignation of several Congress members in the 1990s. Ideally, President Clinton’s impeachment marked the climax of culture war issues becoming commonplace in polarizing the American political landscape.

Although the “sex” factor highlighted the political divide based on perceived religious ethics between the orthodox and progressives, abortion and gay rights issues played a vital role in shaping the American political landscape in the 1990s. Williams posits that abortion remains the most consistent, contested, and polarized issue in American politics since the 1900s, particularly after the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision. In the Roe v. Wade case, the Court stipulated that the federal Constitution grants women the freedom to have an abortion without government interference. However, the Supreme Court’s decision ignited huge public discourse and political debate over limits or excesses of religious freedom and individual liberty over abortion. In the 1990s, the Christian Right camp, comprising social conservatives, implored Republican politicians to criminalize or restrict abortion access. Progressives and liberals beseeched Democrat politicians to defend access to abortion and contraception. For instance, progressives and liberals urged President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, to use his presidential powers to repeal bans on federal-funded abortion counselling, research, and contraception, which effectively negated the Hyde Amendment, promoted and passed by Republican Representatives in 1976. As abortion politics fomented the culture war issue of gender, the issues surrounding gay rights became a polarizing cultural factor in the U.S. politicalsocial landscape.

In the 1990s, the cultural war issues revolving around abortion metamorphosized to a highly divisive gender political discourse, which, in turn, led to the introduction of gay rights and same-sex marriage in the American political landscape. President Clinton’s controversial and divisive attempt to annul in totality the Hyde Amendment came hot on the heels with the questions concerning social acceptance of LGBTQ community. During his first term in office, social conservatives ridiculed President Clinton to recruit gays in the military. Although President Clinton attempted to calm down the ensuing political debate in the larger public sphere through the “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) compromise, he lost considerable political support from social conservatives and the GOP base. Equally, the direct connection between the family structure and gay rights inflamed the conservatives, leading to numerous states conducting referenda and enacting statutes to deal with the culture war issue, especially adoption by same-sex parents. 

Oveall the unsolved culture war issues revolving around family, gender, and sex in the 1990s political-social landscape became the vocal platforms for Republicans and Democrats in voter mobilization.

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Issue of Culture War in American Political-Social Landscape. (2023, February 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from
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