Since the middle of the last century, from both domestic and international perspectives, there always was a consensus on the quintessential American character. Something I like to call the cowboy spirit, the spirit based on our founding principles, our history, our religious traditions and what just felt right. The cowboy spirit is highly individualistic, fiercely anti-authority, suspicious of government, philanthropic, religious, disposed to civic volunteerism, self-reliant, spirited, unafraid, and inherently good. They are the type of person who believed in the words of John Wayne: “If everything isn’t black and white, I say ‘Why the hell not?’
Whether begrudgingly or otherwise, even liberals accepted this as the description of the idealized American; that this was what they had to work around. It was, of course, a most famous Democratic President that famously implored Americans to “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” Along came the Cold War which further reinforced these virtuous character traits, and entrenched a penetrating hatred and fear of communism. Through all of this, a popular, universal and traditional culture emerged, a culture that was cohesive, ideological and most important, a culture of values and principles. It was within this culture that Ronald Reagan swept forty-nine states in 1984.
Internationally, the stereotype of the American was cast. Of course, they caricatured it and exaggerated it but, their assessment was largely right. The American was exceptional in his/her rugged and determined individualism, God-fearing nature, dislike of government, and the supreme confidence he or she exuded even when on foreign soil. This American was much more prepared to stand up for values, and was by far the most patriotic.
These were the Americans that ate at Chic-Fil-A, watched Fox News, listened to Rush, disliked government presence in their day-to-day life, went to church, watched football, believed in traditional values and family, loved entrepreneurs, stood for the national anthem, (at times teary eyed), who generously gave to help not only their neighbors but people all over the world during times of trouble. These were the Americans that believed that goodness would prevail over evil, even if that meant unleashing industrial size strength American whoop-ass. They embodied the cultural consensus that once existed; they embodied the idealized American character.
Then there is the other half of America which sees America, the world and the role of government very differently. Its lifestyle, values and absence of religious fervor are redolent with what we have come to understand as the traditional European character. It is through this prism that we can understand that their political choices are similar to Europe’s. This is not simply a matter of red states and blue states; those political divisions have existed for some time. This transcends state boundaries; millions supporting traditional America live in blue states, and millions supporting a different America are found in red states. What it is, is a fight for identity. This is the ultimate culture war. One might be quick to suggest that there is no war, just a logical evolution, but that can’t be right.
The traditional America that I know and love is as passionate as ever about preserving or returning to what they have always known as the identity of America. They will never change. They will never embrace the European approach to government, turn their nose up to capitalism, never surrender their firearms, never cease to see freedom as their number one value, nor will they ever accept collectivism (Socialism) over individuality. They’re not going anywhere and their traditional American character won’t let them just give up.
So, where do we go from here? Division is not new to America but with these two virtual “countries” with their own media, culture and life so unpalatable to each other, one wonders what is next. Another civil war? Secession? Surrender? Or will we finally open our eyes to the destructive nature of the left?
Only time will tell, and bold I might be, I won’t predict the next step. Frankly, I don’t want to. I am just devastated that my beloved America has been torn in two by those with the audacity to hijack the American character.
Read Divided America Stands by Nick Adams at this link.