America is divided into two political cultures.  This is not the first time.  Before and after our founding we were divided between the Federalists, largely in the North, and the Democrats, largely in the South.  Thereafter, this same regional division was projected onto the issue of slavery and the tragic Civil War ensued.

Race has been a deep divider.  So has gender, immigration, military engagement, and religion among much else.  Given our breadth and diversity, division is almost guaranteed.  Deep polarization is thereafter almost assured.

Late twentieth and early twenty-first century divisions somehow seem different.  When conservatism became a “movement” under Ronald Reagan, the Republican party became doctrinaire, rigid, and increasingly bitter.  What sense of humor and even detachment it might once have had has disappeared.

Does anyone remember one instance when Donald Trump laughed?

It is a little difficult to preach against “big government” when a deadly pandemic is rampaging through the land and hospitals are overrun with dying patients. Mr. Trump tried to ignore it and pretend it would go away and he is now in Mar-a-Lago.

We Democrats face different problems.  We are as usual a collection of causes demanding attention whether over Black Lives Matter, the Green New Deal, internationalism, concern for climate, gender equality, free education, and the list continues to grow.

But the new American division surfaced brutally on January 6th when a presidentially directed insurrectionist mob overran our own Capitol and Congress.  Lives were lost.  This is a turning point.

Senate Republicans will refuse to convict the former president despite his culpability and ignorantly claim that “everyone is to blame.”  Despite conservative arguments that the Democratic party is now “socialist” (in their desperate need to create equivalence where none exists), no one in the young progressive caucus in the House has been seen breaking any doors or windows or trying to smuggle weapons into Congressional chambers.

The conservative embrace of authoritarianism and covert messaging to right wing populist militia and movements has not been met by any lurch to the left among progressives.  If anyone thinks “defund the police” is the equivalent of the Trump “attack the Congress” rally, they don’t know Joe Biden as well as I do.

The political slogan of our day is “gridlock”.  It is deeper than that.  The two parties are rearranging their coalitions and alliances.  Conservatives seek to add white nationalists to evangelicals, anti-abortionists, the NRA, and anti-immigrants.  Progressives still have not produced a manifesto of their beliefs and principles.

The chasm between these two Americas has made us stagnant and confused.  It has stymied productive advancement.  It has eroded American leadership in the world.  Joe Biden’s effort to restore our role in the international community will fail if there is just one oar on the boat.

It must be repeated yet again.  Bringing the two cultures closer together again must not be left to political parties alone.  There is something called civil society.  It is composed of businesses, religious institutions, schools and universities, community leaders, and many others.  Political parties are now locked into a struggle for power and seek to isolate those on the other side.

All elements of American civil society must wake up and rise up if we are to keep our Republic.

 

 

8 Responses to “One Nation, Two Political Cultures”

  1. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    >>>>>Does anyone remember one instance when Donald Trump laughed?

    Yes, actually. It was during one of his first SOTU addresses, maybe the first one? Anyway, it happened, as I vaguely recall, while the president was talking about the death of a soldier whose wife was in the gallery. It was very sad and Trump quipped, at the end, that the soldier was looking down and smiling or laughing and he smiled/laughed, too. And, everyone let out a little laugh. It lightened up the moment and I remember thinking that Trump was trying to do just that – lighten up a very heavy moment. The soldier’s wife appreciated it, I think. The media afterward, turned this moment into something else.

    But, I get your point, senator Hart.

  2. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    >>>>>>The conservative embrace of authoritarianism and covert messaging to right wing populist militia and movements has not been met by any lurch to the left among progressives. If anyone thinks “defund the police” is the equivalent of the Trump “attack the Congress” rally, they don’t know Joe Biden as well as I do.

    And, that is precisely the point. Many Americans do not know who Biden is. Hopefully, with any luck, that will change and soon!

    But, the ‘Defund the Police’ slogan has got to go!

  3. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    >>>>>>>Bringing the two cultures closer together again must not be left to political parties alone. There is something called civil society. It is composed of businesses, religious institutions, schools and universities, community leaders, and many others. Political parties are now locked into a struggle for power and seek to isolate those on the other side.

    This ties in nicely with the idea of ‘post-partisanship’, up-wing leadership and my favourite Biden quote: “I’m not on the left, I’m not on the right. I’m in the middle with Joe Biden. Come join me!”

  4. H. Patrick Pritchard Says:

    On January 6, 2021, a Capitol City Policeman and four other citizens were killed at the United States Capitol because the ego of the President could not accept defeat.

    The President told a lie and seven United States Senators, and one hundred forty-seven House members supported the lie. As a result the Senate and House chambers were ransacked and desecrated; offices were vandalized, and lives were threatened all because the President told a lie. The symbols of the rioters was a gallows and a confederate flag!

    Had there been no lie five people would still be alive and no families would have cause to grieve. Without the lie the President would have no need to summon the crowd to Washington and implore them to march on the Capitol and take back a government only doing its constitutional duty and not in peril.

    My daughter is teaching her seven-year-old daughter the consequences of lying. Her job is made more difficult when the leader of the free world tells a lie that inspires an insurrection of government just to save his ego.

    Lies do matter and there must be consequences in a lawful society. Otherwise there is only chaos and destruction. The President must be held accountable for his baseless lie because lives were lost, and democracy was violated!

  5. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    “Is there anyone alive out there!?

    Surely it cannot be that everyone just agrees with me and there is no need for debate…

  6. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    oops, wrong column … sigh

  7. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Patrick,

    What does it mean to hold the former president accountable? The United States senate is in a position to take that accountability from impeachment to conviction but senate Republicans are not poised nor inclined to do that.

    So what is the available accountability and who will mete it out?

    Maybe its time to start commonly referring to the Republican party as the Proto-Fascist Party that it has become under the leadership of Dear Leader, Il duce Donald.

    That would be a good start.

  8. PETER O'DRISCOLL Says:

    Gary, as ever, yes and amen!

Leave a Reply

All comments are reviewed by a moderator prior to approval and are subject to the UCD blog use policy.