Check out our Podcast

  • Anthony Leonardi

Institutions are Upstream of Culture

Renowned conservative journalist Andrew Breitbart once said that "politics is downstream of culture," meaning that for any one person to have success in the political realm they must first change the cultural values in society. Culture is shaped by what a society chooses to value most dearly, and those values in America emerge from an institution. In other words, the stream that flows down to culture and politics begins with institutions.


Institutions shape how we think, act, and function in civil society. There are two institutions once central to the traditional American way of life for conservatives – the Church and the family. The Church was the institution that reminded us that our fallen human nature requires us to look to heaven above as our example of how to treat our fellow man. The nuclear family laid the foundation for how society ought to grow, by either marriage, blood, or adoption, to secure the blessings of liberty for our children.


But other institutions exist that direct the attitudes of culture and, in turn, impact their politics. Those politics have only begun to erode the strength of the traditional institution of the family. An October 2020 survey from the University of Missouri found that, since 2016, politics have driven families apart. "We find that more disagreement and more affective polarization are associated with less communication accommodation, and that shared family identity suffers as a result," the study's abstract reads.


Just before the 2020 election, Reuters reported several stories of husbands and wives separating and sons renouncing their mothers because of the contentious nature of politics. "He specifically told me, 'You are no longer my mother, because you are voting for Trump'," one mother recalled. Reuters reported that the last conversation between that mother and her son was "so bitter that she is not sure they can reconcile, even if Trump loses his re-election bid."


Politicians are not solely responsible for the corrosion of institutions like the nuclear family. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find any shrewd politician endorsing children disowning their parents because of politics. Children make their own conscious decisions to separate themselves from their parents and spouses from their loved ones. But that idea comes from somewhere, and those are left-wing institutions of influence that mold culture like Big Tech, higher education, and media.


For example, Amazon's recent acquisition of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, a move many see as the corporation's attempt to compete with other media streaming companies like Netflix and theaters to make high-quality streamable exclusives. The coronavirus lockdowns rocked the theater industry, and The Atlantic reports that theaters "may still continue to close" despite efforts to increase sales. But while people stayed at home during the pandemic, they still watched movies. And they used services like Amazon to do so.


Conservatives are quite familiar with the fact that Hollywood is a propaganda machine for woke progressivism and realized they once had the option of refusing to patronize movies that el