The Corner

Culture & Politics

Kathryn has written a very nice column on Rick Santorum. It begins with Santorum saying “Culture is downstream from politics.”

I’m just not sure that’s true. I’m also not sure it’s a good thing for politicians to believe.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that “the central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”

I always thought that was too simplistic as well. It’s not that Moynihan was wrong. Politics can change a culture. But for the author of Maximum Feasible Misunderstanding to leave out the fact that politics can — and more often does — screw up the culture seems like a grave error. I’ve heard liberal quote that line for years and they always do so as a way to justify government meddling in society.

Anyway, back to Santorum and the idea that culture is downstream from politics. I think a better way to say it — though far less pithy — is that cultur


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