Is a values consensus emerging in a Fourth Turning?

This posting continues a thought process begun last year before the election.

One of the propositions of the generational theory of William Strausss and Neil Howe is that the Fourth Turning is a time when a new values regime is instituted in the civic order. As the 2016 elections unfolded, I got the impression from the successes of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump that the country was indeed ready to move on from the Culture Wars and focus on building better government. This was because both of those candidates were galvanizing voters with offers of Big Government solutions - whether enhancing the social welfare state with a better healthcare program and free college tuition, or investing money in infrastructure and job creation. There was even the promise of a giant wall to protect us from illegal immigrants - simultaneously creating construction jobs and protecting other jobs that the immigrants are stealing!

But now that Donald Trump has been elected and has appointed an alt-right cabinet, it appears that the true Trump domestic agenda will be the dismantling or at least severe reduction of the New Deal/Great Society government apparatus and the undoing of recent advancements in instituting progressive values. Is he just a con artist, or is he too stupid to see what his own advisors are up to - who knows? There has been an upswelling of resistance against his agenda, with the same energy that charged the election - suggesting that the Culture Wars rage on.

Or perhaps the Culture Wars are in their denouement, with a final push back from the right, after which the lines will be drawn and the values regime will be established for the next couple of phases of the secular cycle. Here is where I see some of those values lining up, based on recent trends and my impression of the broad consensus, if such a thing exists:

· Pro-gun rights.
· Marijuana becomes legalized.
· Equal rights for gays, but not so much for the transgendered.
· Abortion remains legal, but heavily restricted.
· Gambling and pornography mainstreamed. And tattoos.
· Entertainment, in the form of music, TV and movies - gets darker for awhile as all those mid-life Xers brood.
· We remain essentially a multi-cultural society with religious freedom.

Less clear to me are where the lines will be drawn on these issues:

· Are we abandoning the old welfare nation-state model and settling on a corporatist oligarchy, with little to no protections for the lower economic classes - the 99 per cent left to fend for themselves?
· Are we willing to sacrifice the environment to keep the fossil-fuel industry strong, in the name of jobs for some of those 99 per cent?
· Will we reform our justice system, or continue to have a huge prison population and intractable tension between law enforcement and racial minorities?

It seems that if the New Deal State does implode, we could be stuck with a world of corporate mastery - ruled by banks, energy companies, and a privately operated police state. Or maybe progressives will rally and rebuild a New New Deal on the ashes of the old. My feeling is that resolving these conflicts is where we are at now in this Fourth Turning.

- Steve Barrera
January 2017