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The Right’s loss of the culture war is in extreme slow motion; will it toss its extremists out? Doubt it.

The right wing is not going down without a long painful fight, thanks to the movement’s professional bigots, womb-controllers, religious zealots. Matt K. Lewis,  senior contributor for The Daily Caller, seems to think the culture war is over.

In recent months, it has been especially depressing to be a conservative. In the past, one could more easily endure the ranting of liberal commentators by taking solace that — outside of New York City and Washington, D.C. — most of the country was center-right. Thus, whenever an elite liberal commentator said something fringy, one could always console himself by saying (or at least thinking): “I hope you push that idea, because you’ll keep losing elections in real America.”

Today, conservatives have made a shocking discovery: They are the ones in danger of appearing out of touch with middle America.

Democracy, of course, requires individuals who are moral and responsible. Strong families are the cure for much of what ails us. You pick the problem, and stronger families would probably render the solution moot. Consider a recent debate: We can put warning labels on violent games and movies, but that won’t replace mom and dad being involved in their children’s lives and being aware of what they are watching.

Conservatives have largely lost the culture, and it can’t be won back by passing some landmark piece of legislation. Instead, it’s going to be a long, hard slog. The good news is that, though conservatives typically hate the term “reactionary,” most conservative victory is first predicated on liberal overreach.

Well, to turn the prism and look at this a bit differently, what we saw in 2012 and are likely to see in 2013 are more attempts by the fringe right to slow social change they don’t like by throwing up legislative roadblocks and incessant bigoted attacks. Just this week the House GOP killed the Violence Against Women Act.

Back in April, the Senate approvedVAWA reauthorization fairly easily, with a 68 to 31 vote. The bill was co-written by a liberal Democrat (Vermont’s Pat Leahy) and a conservative Republican (Idaho’s Mike Crapo), and seemed on track to be reauthorized without much of a fuss, just as it was in 2000 and 2005.

But House Republicans insisted the bill is too supportive of immigrants, the LGBT community, and Native Americans — and they’d rather let the law expire than approve a slightly expanded proposal. Vice President Biden, who helped write the original law, tried to persuade House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to keep the law alive, but the efforts didn’t go anywhere.

And so, for the first time since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act is no more.

And as we saw in 2012, the attacks on reproductive freedom at the state level have been horrifically successful.

This past year, 19 states passed 42 different provisions intended to restrict women’s access to abortion services — second only to the record-breaking 92 anti-abortion provisions that were passed in 2011…Arizona topped the list by enacting seven abortion restrictions, including a stringent 20-week abortion ban that currently has the unfortunate distinction of being the harshest law in the nation. Not to be outdone, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin each enacted at least three pieces of anti-abortion legislation to limit their residents’ reproductive rights as well.

The fringe right (the outcast “crazy granny” in the attic that conservatives depend on to flamethrow and marshal the ground forces, usually through god-and-damnation tactics) shows no sign of slowing down; in fact they are doubling down. Take the nearly insane rantings of the influential Donald E. Wildmon of the American Family Association, an organization courted by GOP Clown Car presidential hopefuls last year. He continues the “Christian persecution” meme in this e-blast:

What will religion look like in the year 2060?

Conservative Christians will be treated as second class citizens, much like African Americans were prior to civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

Family as we know it will be drastically changed with the state taking charge of the children beginning at birth.

…Christian broadcasting will be declared illegal based on the separation of church and state. The airwaves belong to the government, therefore they cannot be used for any religious purpose.

We will have, or have had, a Muslim president.

Cities with a name from the Bible such as St. Petersburg, Bethlehem, etc. will be forced to change their name due to separation of church and state.

And another useful social conservative tool, David Barton, is not giving up either.
“[W]e’re getting to the point where tolerance is a bad thing and hate is a good thing. And let me define that: we’re told in, I believe it’s Proverbs 4:13, it says “the fear of the Lord is to hate evil.” Which means that if I’m going to stand for what God stands for, there’s some certain things I have to hate: I have to hate evil, I have to hate murder – well no, you can’t hate, that’s a bad thing … no, hate is a good thing!
…So we’ve got to get to the point where tolerance is seen as a sin because we’re tolerating a lot stuff that destroys our families, that destroys our own character and we can’t tolerate that stuff.  We have to get back to the point where hate is a virtue, at least certain kinds of hate.  The fear of the Lord is to hate evil and we need to have a hatred of things and get off this fence of having no passion about anything.  You know, I tolerate anything, I’m not going to have a passion good or bad, I’m not going to hate anything … We just can’t do that and we’ve got to get back to that same type of intolerance, that we’re going to be intolerant of liberalism.

By the way, there are way too many conservative elected officials still going the “Christian persecution” route, flipping it over into an obsessive Islamophobia. Here’s a primer on 5 Islam-bashing Republicans to watch in 2013. My favorite on the list is Texas’s Louie Gohmert. This is one for the ages:

“This Texas Republican has promoted anti-Muslim sentiment too many times before. Gohmert was widely mocked for his August 2010 assertion that Middle Eastern terrorists were plotting new attacks on the U.S. by sending their pregnant wives to this country whose children “could be raised and coddled as future terrorists.” The phrase “terror babies” entered the political lexicon after Gohmert’s outlandish statements. Yet, as Mother Jones noted at the time, there’s not “a morsel of evidence to support Gohmert’s terror baby tale, which the congressman says he learned of from a woman on a plane while en route to the Middle East and from a retired FBI agent.”

The culture wars will not recede until voices like the above are criticized loudly and often by conservatives like Lewis. Silence or trying to pretend those folks aren’t part of their movement is akin to support of the garbage. Scott Wooledge at Daily Kos noted that the right, even in the face of loss of support from most of America (Sean Hannity has lost half of his audience post-election), can’t let go of its delusions.

“I’d certainly like to think that it reflects a permanent dispiriting that would signal a major realigning of the goals and tactics of the Conservative Entertainment Complex™. I’d like to think they’ll wake up and recognize that constantly catering to the basest instincts of the Republican party—however divorced from reality they might be—is not ultimately a good strategy. I’d like to dream of a world where the unmitigated bullshit the Conservative Entertainment Complex™ spews becomes their own undoing when the populous decides to seek out better sources of information. But Conservative Entertainment Complex™ appears to have learned nothing from the election results.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding