Barack Obama won in November largely because he convincingly represents stability in economic affairs and foreign policy. On questions of culture, however, he will have a very difficult time. The progressive ideal of liberated desire—like all progressive ideals—requires us to fundamentally remake culture. This means aggressively intervening into education and the family in order to destroy the sources of traditional sentiments about sex, gender, and religion. . . .
Yet, because conservatism is based in traditional realities rather than progressive ideals, it need not revolutionize culture and suppress dissent. Put concretely, nobody who wants to change our laws about abortion needs to censor the pro-choice idea. Nobody who wishes to prohibit gay marriage wants to prevent anyone from feeling offended or oppressed by the opinions of those who think otherwise.
Because conservative political goals are limited, they don’t require trying to take control of the San Francisco school system. . . . The conservative has no need to gain control of the state in order to remake culture—a shockingly arrogant, willful, and invariably tyrannical project. He already has one.