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Why is the Young America's Foundation (in particular its iconic people like Ben Shapiro, Matt Walsh, and Michael Knowles) talking about social issues all day long?

Just look at their YouTube channel...

During this second cold war time, I think there are many important topics that politicians could talk about, in particular those "defending America". On the rule of thumb: democracy, rule of law, economic liberalism, etc. Why fixate on gender and sexuality like a mussel on a rock?

If we compare with another right-wing network, PragerU talks about a much broader range of topics.

I saw some discussions about the rise of Christian Nationalism in the U.S., does it have a relation with that, for instance? I don't know if it's a general tendency in the U.S. right-wing these last 10 years or so.

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  • It's a good Q why so much emphasis, but why some emphasis is easy to tell from their promo brochure promising to "reinforce our Judeo-Christian values". Commented May 22 at 17:57
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    (That is more or less a codeword for the Religious Right according to critics.) Commented May 22 at 18:04
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    This paper on "Christian Statism" discusses that many such supporters don't care about economic conservatism (aka economic liberalism). Commented May 22 at 18:19
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    ... with a somewhat plausible explanation behind that "In the American case, white Protestants rhetorically supported a free religious economy and national inclusiveness when their dominance of American culture was secured by historical conditions. But in light of demographic changes and widespread church disaffiliation, white Protestants have begun to feel that they are losing their market share and now seek special protections and favoritism from the state." Commented May 22 at 18:25
  • "In the American case, white Protestants rhetorically supported a free religious economy and national inclusiveness", that is, from the 18th century, until recently, I guess?
    – Starckman
    Commented May 23 at 12:33

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I guess that's called "culture war":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_war#1991%E2%80%932001:_Rise_in_prominence

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_war#2012%E2%80%93present:_Broadening_of_the_culture_war

They presumably engage in this form of toxic populism, because they can mobilize their voter base without even committing to any "meaningful" political issues. I mean don't get me wrong they do tangible harm to people with that, so in consequence this becomes a meaningful issue for people and some fierce battleground, because it can get quite existential for minorities.

But politically it's some sort of non-issue, it's much easier to fight these bullshit culture wars and work yourself up against some scapegoat minority, that you apparently feel you can throw under the bus as they aren't going to vote for you anyway, than to make any meaningful political proposals.

Like defense spending and interventionism are somewhat unpopular (especially if you simultaneously are anti-tax and already cut government spending to dysfunctional levels..., so that would likely bite them), while the crises in Ukraine and Israel/Gaza would reasonably require attention and could become nasty regardless of your position on these issues. Same with global warming and climate change where sooner or later their position of just ignoring it and it won't be that bad, IS going to bite them.

democracy, rule of law,

That's a good one. Or do you mean that for real? Like currently the front runner of the conservative party doesn't believe in the results of free and fair elections, supported an insurrection, faces several criminal trials as well as the long list of other law suits that kinda make a mockery of the rule of law for how rich people can do that while poor people would be in jail because they can't afford that. He and his party seriously float the idea that the president should be immune from criminal prosecution, not just when in office (which is already dubious), but also after their term or that thinks they can pardon themselves for crimes. Which pretty much sounds like dictator and when asked about it affirms that!

Instead of a straightforward denial, Trump said he would be a dictator only on "Day 1" of his tenure.

So unless they actually commit to that themselves, there's a lot of potential to legitimately be attacked for.

economic liberalism

There's a good chance that's going to hurt their own voters, not to mention that it's basically mainstream in the U.S. Like they're not fighting the scarecrow of the USSR or whatnot or any other systemic rival. Maybe China, but then again economic liberalism also means trading with those dictatorships and not endangering relations to them...

All of these topics are difficult and have potential to backfire, while culture war is ... vacuous. It's empty fluff (again it actually does harm people, let's not forget that). But afaik Trump doesn't have or had a coherent program, ideal or vision, he just wanted to be president. Like for people who treat politics as a sports, who just want to win elections that's almost dangerously easy. They don't have to commit to anything so people aren't can't hold them accountable if it fails and if it fails... The others are to blame.

And the worst thing is that it apparently seems to be successful. It's ticks an uncanny amount of boxes concerning the definition of fascism, but apparently people don't care enough.

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    I didn't have Trump in mind, but American conservatism in general (which is not limited to Trump....) (+1 your answer, so no emotion whatsoever, it's just a precision)
    – Starckman
    Commented May 22 at 14:55
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Because they see "Social Issues" as Mobilizing

Pew's political segmentation polling notes that about a quarter of Republican voters are what they call Faith and Flag Conservatives. FFCs are older, more Christian, and very politically active. They oppose same sex marriage and abortion, and believe that Christianity should have a larger role in government and public life.

Culture War issues appeal to this group, and make them easy to target and mobilize.

Republicans are Historically Weak on Rule of Law, Defense, and Democracy

Recent polling on the ongoing hush money trail shows that most American's think Trump has acted unethically (77%) and that nearly half think he has committed a crime. Republican Texas Governor Abbott just pardoned a convicted murderer because they are politically aligned and Trump has repeatedly mused about pardoning other criminals who align with him if re-elected.

Selling Republicans as the party of "Law and Order" is a challenge in 2024.

Similarly, Trump has cozy-ed up to authoritarians abroad, like Putin, has advocated for a more isolationist foreign policy, and is facing charges about mishandling classified information. Trump is probably the first Republican to have lost the military vote in decades. From the Hill:

Leading up to the 2020 election, a Military Times and Syracuse University survey of active-duty troops indicated Democratic contender Joe Biden had a slight edge on President Trump among the military community: 41 percent for Biden to 37 percent for Trump

For economic liberalism - Reaganomics is generally seen as a failure by both economists and the public, though Republicans are still seen as "good for the economy" in spite of that.

For Democracy, Trump has spent the last 4 years lying about the election results, and supporting likely-illegal actions to retain power.

In short, the Republican party would struggle to campaign on Law and Order, Democracy, or Defense, because the current incarnation of the Republican party does not support those things with their actions.

Clicks

It's also worth noting that "Conservative Media" doesn't necessarily care about winning elections. Conservative media is out to make money by getting views, or clicks, or otherwise monetizing the attention of conservative viewers.

Thus the Young American's Foundation may have decided that getting consistent views based off Culture War programming was a good move economically, regardless of how that plays at the voting booth.

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