Conservatives Are 'In Power,' But They May Still Win 2018 as the Anti-Establishment Underdog
As the 2018 election season begins to ramp up, Republicans hold the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the presidency. With Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court is technically majority conservative. Each of the levers of the federal government seems to be in firm conservative hands. Even so, Republicans across the country are likely to campaign as if they are out of power, and that might just help them pick up seats in November.
Conservatives face a number of huge social and political obstacles. Trump may be president, but former Obama operatives in the "Deep State" are undermining his efforts, and the very mechanisms of government have been transformed by progressive activism.
The Republican Party is far from unified. Efforts to repeal and "replace" Obamacare have failed, and the president recently signed even more debt into law. Trump has cut regulations, but the welfare state needs a serious overhaul, and it seems neither the president nor Congress is serious about entitlement reform.
Companies have ratcheted up their advocacy of liberal causes, and academia, the media, and Hollywood continue to push the narrative further and further to the left. The New York Times is effectively advocating socialism and communism. American colleges are barely recognizable — with George Washington University cutting its American history requirement, for history majors!
As for the culture war, conservatives feel bombarded daily with disrespect.
As John Hawkins, founder of Right Wing News and a PJ Media contributor, explained, the average American conservative cannot find any place to unwind. "He turns on a TV show where he's insulted, and then he's like, 'well, maybe I'll just unwind and watch an awards show' — the Oscars or something — where he gets trashed all day long," Hawkins told National Public Radio (NPR). "He goes to Twitter and he's got some you know guy calling him in a-hole ... this is sort of like a pervasive all-out attack if you're a conservative. And it's all the time sort of thing."
"Politics is downstream from culture. And I do think that it's true that conservatives have lost in many ways the culture," Matt Lewis, a conservative columnist for The Daily Beast, told NPR. "There is a sense on the right that is apocalyptic and fearful."
Indeed, the cultural winds have shifted — hard — against social conservatism.
On Tuesday, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released the results of a poll taken over the course of 7 months last year. The poll found that a vast majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, support nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people, and oppose conscience protections for small businesses.
In 2013, 52 percent of Americans favored same-sex marriage. Two years after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, support jumped to 61 percent, and Americans who strongly favor same-sex marriage (30 percent) outnumber those who strongly oppose (14 percent) it by more than a two-to-one margin.