Is all the pessimism justified?
Many of my readers have chastised me for excessive pessimism. One of my articles (in another magazine) entitled "Is America Doomed" has been cited as especially gloomy. But consider the words of nationally syndicated columnist Jeffrey Kuhner in theWashington Times:
The bitter debate over Obamacare has exposed the country's profound divisions. We are no longer one nation or one people. Rather, there are now two Americas: one conservative, the other liberal. Increasingly, we no longer just disagree but we despise each other.
Our disagreements encompass everything - politics, morality, culture and history. We no longer share a unifying essence or common values. One half of America believes abortion is an abomination; the other half considers any attempt to repeal it as oppressive and sexist. One half opposes homosexual unions because it elevates immoral and unnatural behavior to the sacred status of marriage; the other half supports it as an extension of civil rights. One half reviles Mr. Obama's socialist agenda, viewing it as the destruction of capitalism and our constitutional government; the other half embraces it as the culmination of social justice and economic equality. One half reveres America's heroes - Christopher Columbus, George Washington, James Madison, Davy Crockett - and its glorious history; the other half is ashamed of its past, seeing it as characterized by racism, imperialism and chauvinism.
How's that for pessimism? But Kuhner goes further:
Ultimately, a country is not simply its geographical borders with the people inside of it. It is something more - and deeper. A nation must share a common heritage, language, culture, faith and myths. Once upon a time, Americans celebrated the same heroes, sang the same patriotic songs, read the same history and literature, and gloried in its exceptional nature: a city upon a hill, with liberty and freedom for all. It was understood that, for all of our different ethnic and religious backgrounds, America is a product of English and Christian civilization. Those days are long gone.
Instead, we are going the way our Founding Fathers warned us against: increasing balkanization and sectionalism. A constitutional republic - unlike an empire - is only as strong as its national cohesion. It is based not on imperial coercion but civic consent. Mr. Obama is recklessly pulling at the strings of unity, further polarizing us.
Alas, I think Mr. Kuhner is correct. Among my conservative acquaintances, I increasingly hear words like: secession, revolution and refounding. More ominously, I hear sentences such as: this government is more oppressive than the one that our forefathers revolted against; the Republic is lost, those of us who care need to start over; our uber-progressive President and his allies are destroying our Constitutional Republic and impoverishing its citizens. As proof of the last assertion, I can say that among my friends and relatives of my age (60s) who have children in their 30s and 40s trying to raise a family, the percentage of the adult children who are living as well as their parents did at a comparable age-much less better-is meager.