I Predicted the Culture Wars Would End in 2021. Oops.

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In mid-November 2020 — the days of early vaccine trials, farcical, Covid-hobbled NFL contests, and Four Seasons Total Landscaping — I wrote aspirationally in another publication that, pandemic notwithstanding, the days of constant madness might soon be behind us.

Inspired by the swift coming and going of a now-forgotten micro-controversy, I made a bold prediction: that then President-elect Joe Biden would deliver on his promise of returning some modicum of “normalcy” to America, specifically by putting an end to the culture-war rhetoric that emanated constantly from his predecessor’s Oval Office.

This was, obviously, incorrect.

While Biden as president has delivered on his promise to revert the White House to a policy-making and governing apparatus after its four-year stint as a clearinghouse for cultural grievance, the rest of American politics have refused to follow suit. A disproportionate number of this year’s hot-button political stories — from “cancel culture,” to critical race theory, to the base-pleasing, antagonistic antics of House Republicans like Reps. Matt Gaetz and Madison Cawthorn — have been less substantial political debates than attitudinal ones, about the public character of American life and our rhetorical treatment of its history.

The Biden presidency might have

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