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Election opens new fronts in "culture war"


The following is from the Nov. 2, 2008, edition of Reuters. Political Science Professor Cal Jillson of SMU's Dedman College provided expertise for this story.

November 2, 2008

By Ed Stoddard - Analysis

DALLAS (Reuters) - The presidential campaign "culture war" has taken a new turn this year, but with just two days to go before the election, the souring economy has voters thinking with their pocketbooks rather than their passions.

Republican John McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, have tried to cast the election battle into a fight between big city elites and residents of small towns some Republicans have dubbed "real America."

With stock markets plunging and millions of Americans facing the loss of homes or jobs, issues like gay marriage and abortion rights -- which Republicans have used to galvanize their conservative Christian base in the past -- are no longer voters' top concerns.

Analysts say the culture war has been playing out differently against the backdrop of the economic crisis -- seen as the main reason for Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama's lead in the polls -- with a focus on broader values and character. . .

 "The new front, to the extent that there is one, is a rural/urban conflict of values with Palin talking about the real America, the patriotic America," said Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

These battle lines also reflect a conservative backlash against a permissive culture widely held to have taken root in the 1960s.

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