Magazine November 30, 2020, Issue

The Promise and Peril of Trump’s Cultural Politics

President Donald Trump departs after speaking about the presidential-election results in Washington, D.C., November 5, 2020. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
His policies, if not his personality, offer lessons to Republicans

Trump will obviously be remembered less as a policy maven than as a cultural warrior.

This is one reason that his tenure has been so controversial. We can disagree about Medicare reimbursement rates, but cultural issues cut much deeper, involving questions of, to quote the title of the influential Samuel Huntington book, “Who are we?” 

Trump reoriented the main lines of battle in the culture war away from issues related to religion and sexual morality and onto the grounds of populism, nationalism, and political correctness. Trump’s culture war is fundamentally the people versus the elite, national sovereignty versus cosmopolitanism, patriotism versus multiculturalism,

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