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The Issues of the Culture Wars: Political Impact on Americans


In a country as diverse and vast as the United States, it is no surprise that some distinct but neighboring cultural traditions and values result in clashes. The Culture Wars refers to the conflict between different communities and groups based on the beliefs of the superiority of each culture over the next. These underlying beliefs lead people in the various social groups to fight for the spread and dominance of their values, practices, and beliefs. Due to the long-standing push for the concept of the American Dream and what it means to be American, groups that do not relate to these ideas might feel alienated. As a result, they might become protective of their own culture in the fear that it will be disintegrated. Although social activism has been present for decades, culture wars and identity politics are still incredibly influential in the US political sphere. The following paper argues that the reason for the consistently strong political hold of the Culture Wars includes the polarizing nature of the parties and their views, identity insecurity, and historical suppression of minority cultures.

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Polarized Parties

It is no surprise that the two most popular parties in American politics, Democrats, and Conservatives, hold polar opposite views on the majority of issues, whether they are social, economic, or political. The extreme conflict dates back to the Watergate scandal and the presidency of Clinton (Locke & Wright, ch. 30). Furthermore, according to various studies, the two parties disagree on the magnitude of the various socio-economic-political problems in the country. For example, Clinton’s attempts at social changes in the country, such as the healthcare initiative and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell plan, caused very different reactions from the two parties (Locke & Wright, ch. 30). However, although it can be expected that the two largest opposing parties hold different views on various issues, and place different values on them, this creates an “us vs them” mentality. Over the years, the parties have become subcultures in themselves, causing people affiliated with one or the other side to feel strongly about their community, which is strengthened by cultivating the conflict. Instead of considering the political issues and their solutions, many avid political followers blindly follow their party.

Insecurity of Identity

Furthermore, culture wars remain relevant today due to the identity insecurity that many groups and individuals experience. Many people can find it difficult to embrace change or to accept other points of view, as it might make them insecure in their own worldview. The people that are most opposed to the other and most prone to identifying that said other is often absolutists that believe in one correct worldview. Therefore, being presented with different cultures, values, and beliefs creates uncertainty that they fear, which might lead them to feel hostile towards other groups and individuals. For example, due to the ongoing immigration into the US, there are now strong communities that identify with a different culture or cultures to their current settlement location.

Historical Suppression of Minority Cultures

Another reason behind the political hold of the culture wars lies in the historical oppression of minority cultures. It is impossible to consider the events of today without acknowledging the long history that preceded them. For example, as could be seen in the 1992 case of Rodney King, the views on incidents that involve controversial issues that as a race can be perceived differently. In the eyes of conservatives, the incident was not an exemplar of historical racism and oppression but of individual choices. Liberals, on the other hand, believed in the underlying triggers and built-up tension as the main reason for the beating.

The rulings of such cases create the context for the future treatment of people, as it creates underlying bias and feeds stereotypes. A recent example of such is the case of Kyle Rittenhouse, who received a “not-guilty” verdict after shooting three men, killing two, a year earlier. While the case is a stand-alone, it is an example of the ongoing inequality in the treatment of people from different backgrounds in the US. Many argue that if the defendant was BIPOC, the jury would have decided on a different verdict. This case, which has been discussed in the press and at dinner tables over the past week or so, has emphasized the divide between the political parties. As long as the divisive beliefs are fed by cases such as the case of Rittenhouse, the culture wars will remain strong in their political hold on the country.


In conclusion, there is not one single reason for the continuously strong political hold of the Culture Wars. However, some of the main ones lie in the identity politics of the current partisan structure of the government and the “us vs them” tactics of politicians. Furthermore, the psychology behind the insecurity around identity and the historical suppression of minority cultures are vital to the issue as well. The continuous strengthening of the cultural community feeling and divisive tactics are counter-productive to the unification of the country and its people.

Work Cited

Locke, Joseph L. and Ben Wright, editors. The American Yawp. Stanford University Press, 2019.

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