Drum honor role. I recently criticized Kevin Drum, so I am pleased to think especially highly of this post which I think you should read (also, as Drum says, always click the link especially if it is a vox.com link)
I am always impressed by your insights, but, that said, I think this post is important. In particular, I think you have coined an important word “government-ish” which belongs in the lexicon next to “truthiness”. As all 3 of you note, the US Federal Government is not prosecuting parents for spanking their children. Nor, indeed are state and local governments. But Oprah says you shouldn’t do that and she is government-ish.
In the interview, Wuthnow said “a government and a culture” . It isn’t that he thinks they are two aspects of the same entity (Oprah and Donald are both carbon based life forms but don’t have much else in common). But I think the people he interviewed do.
So what is this culture which is government-ish ? “Culture” isn’t used as anthropologists use it, nor is it high culture. I think it is (still) mostly television, with lesser roles for pop-music, movies, radio, and prominent web-sites. You brought up Oprah and “authorities,” so called by uh Oprah (not government officials, not people with a lot of cites in the peer reviewed literature, but people on “Oprah” called authorities by Oprah (I assume you don’t use “scare quotes” and your quotation marks had something to do with quoting someone)).
There is something “government-ish,” which is resented. It isn’t in power in Washington. There is something elite, which is resented, even if it doesn’t have the wealth of the Kochs, the power of Trump, the fame of — damn Trump again, or the status Billy Graham had. Not the richest, or most powerful, famous, or esteemed, but an elite in some other way. The “goverment-ish” borg also includes the “media,” which does not include Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, or Breitbart.
In any case, the government-ish media elite sure includes Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, and LeBron James
Now what do these people have in common ? I mean aside from brains and money ?