According to Bill Clinton, victory has arrived:
Former President Bill Clinton told Virginia Democrats Saturday that the party has won America's long-running culture war but has to make sure not to squander
it with partisanship.
Clinton told more than 3,000 people at a party fundraiser that the nation's natural political base shifted back to Democrats for the first time since 1968, thanks to protracted Republican mistakes and the belief that President Barack Obama represented the solution.
He said Obama's election shows Americans at last are welcoming diversity and accepting differences, the opposite of the political dynamic he said Richard Nixon first used in 1968 to lock in a white, conservative voting bloc that kept Virginia and
the South reliably Republican for two generations.
My own thought is that we actually haven't come that far.
Yes, Obama was elected but what exactly did that mean in terms of race relations. My guess is that white supremacy has thawed enough that a Magic Johnson/Colin Powell type black guy could get elected president at a time when white elites were thoroughly discredited (even in their own eyes).
It also means that there's a larger middle-class pool of African-Americans out of which leaders like Obama can emerge.
That's certainly something, but Obama's election doesn't mean that African-Americans still aren't stereotyped or subject to police violence and arbitrary arrest. It doesn't mean that larger parts of the African-American population are no longer isolated in urban ghettos or racist areas like the rural South. It also doesn't mean that African-Americans are no longer followed in stores or discriminated against in hiring or promotion either.
The election of Obama is important, but the "race war" isn't going to be won until African-Americans enjoy the full benefits of American society.
The same could be said in relation to gender and sexual orientation. Gay people have made a lot of progress over the last 40 years, but the culture war over homosexuality won't end until lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, and transexuals have full marriage rights and are fully mainstreamed into American society. In relation to gender, the situation is probably worse in 2008 than it was in 1988. Women have more opportunity but the religious right, the porn industry, and sexual violence seem to have grown faster than the opportunities.
It's fair to say that progress has been made in the various culture wars, but "victory" is a lot further off than Bill Clinton's comments would indicate.