"Politics is downstream from/of (the) culture” means that the culture comes first and then the laws, not the other way around. Laws against slavery, for example, must be preceded by anti-slavery movements. A regulation that the culture is not ready to accept is doomed to fail.
“It views politics as ‘downstream’ from culture” was written by Don Eberly in May 2000; “Public policy is downstream from culture” was said by Bruce Chapman, president of Discovery Institute, also in May 2000. Eberly possibly coined the saying because it also occurs frequently in his book Building a Healthy Culture: Strategies for an American Renaissance (2001). Conservative American publisher Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012) often used the saying.
Wikipedia: Don Eberly
Don E. Eberly is an American author and researcher in the study of civil society.
He earned masters degrees from George Washington University and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He has also performed doctoral work in public affairs at Penn State University. He founded the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives in the 1980s and served as its first president. He is one of the founders of the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference. He founded the National Fatherhood Initiative in 1993. and served as Chairman of the Board of Directors. He also served as deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives under George W. Bush.
MAY / JUNE 2000
BY: DON EBERLY
Don Eberly is a nationally read author, commentator, and speaker. He has held several staff positions in Congress, the Reagan White House, and with Jack Kemp. He is the founder of The Civil Society Project.
True conservatism brings a natural skepticism to the reforming possibilities of politics. It sees as its first job the long-term cultivation of character, culture, and community. It views politics as “downstream” from culture, more reflecting it than shaping it.
Any American movement that starts with the law, not culture, will fail.
Google Groups: talk.origins
May 9 2000, 1:00 am
“Public policy is downstream from culture,” explained Bruce Chapman, president of Discovery Institute, the think tank sponsoring the science briefing. “It expresses people’s fundamental beliefs or worldview.”
Building a Healthy Culture:
Strategies for an American Renaissance
By Don E. Eberly
Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s
The truth, as social commentator Don Eberly has rightly noted, is that “politics is downstream from the culture.”
A natural skepticism about the reforming possibilities of politics, placing primary emphasis instead on the long-term cultivation of character, culture, and community. A view of politics as downstream from culture, more reflecting it than shaping it.
Google News Archive
15 January 2006, The Post and Courier, “Author Warren driven by new purpose” by Paul Nussbaum (Knight Ridder Newspapers), pg. 4E, col. 5,
(Rick Warren, pastor and author of The Purpose Driven Life—ed.)
“Politics is always downstream from culture. I place less confidence in it than a lot of folks. I don’t think that’s the answer. Politics is not the right tool to change the culture.”
Interview: Andrew Breitbart: Walking Toward the Fire with Righteous Indignation
by R.J. Carter
Published: April 29, 2011
Re-published: March 1, 2012
The cliche that I trot out there in speeches is that politics is downstream from culture—that once it gets down the the Eric Cantor / John Boehner level, come the election cycle—“Help, save us! Help save us from the Left!—we’ve already lost. When the entirety of the culture is dominated by left of center thought, when kids who start kindergarten are already being indoctrinated by way of teachers who have a sense of social justice and economic justice, and who believe that their time with the child is to try and raise them with the proper ideals and the proper values, and then those kids go through college where the professors have similar orientation—and those kids watch MTV and movies. Those people who are ingesting pop culture and who are going through the cultural institutions become what I was growing up, and that was a “default liberal.” I was a default liberal—I didn’t even know what conservatism was, because at no point are you ever confronted with a conservative idea until you, by mistake, turn on the AM dial.
Politics Really is Downstream from Culture
by Lawrence Meyers
22 Aug 2011
The first time I heard the phrase, “Politics is downstream from culture”, I had no idea what it meant. After figuring it out, and explaining it to a few Conservatives, they dismissed the concept. The truth, however, is that it may be one of the most important phrases of the New Media Age, and it’s vital that people understand it.
Our lives—indeed, our very species—has storytelling wound into our DNA. From the earliest cave drawings, man has expressed himself in terms of story. Ancient civilizations understood that stories are vital to understanding our place in the world, so much so that they codified storytelling and found base rules that form it. Oral histories are a part of every culture across the globe.
The Debt Bomb:
A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America
By Tom A. Coburn with John Hart
Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson
As Wilberforce understood, politics and legislation are ultimately downstream from culture. Government is a reflection of the heart of the people. In Wilberforce’s time, a culture that tolerated slavery would likely keep slavery legal.
Friday, November 9. 2012
Brilliant: “Politics is downstream of culture.”
“Politics is downstream of culture.” That’s what the man says, and it certainly seems true these days. It’s what I have been thinking. Sales, marketing, and branding matter.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Wednesday, January 16, 2013 • Permalink