Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Our Greatest Divide

The greatest danger of the partisan divide? We'll lose faith in the American project, which feels endangered by either our indifference or ignorance. Which are our shared principles? When separation of church and state, rule of law, and equality before the law are not respected by all, what do we have in common?
At Monticello, the tour guides remind visitors that the separation of church and state was one of Jefferson's guiding ideas. The blank look on many visitors' faces speaks volumes: that's news to them. How many Americans have even read the Declaration of Independence or US Constitution? Are these founding documents--setting out the founding faith that makes America possible--even taught in school, any more?
We have leaders today--and have for a couple of decades--who are more eager to defend capitalism and evangelical Christianity than democracy and 'the American way of life.' I wouldn't be surprised if some viewers of Hulu's adaptation of THE HANDMAID'S TALE were looking for ideas: 'Gilead' may look pretty good to them.
The Left is not that bad... yet. But, I do worry that Left identity politics and utopian insistence on ideological purity--e.g., the readiness of those who see themselves as more 'woke' to trash the humanity and integrity of those on their side, such as Hillary Clinton, with whom they may have substantial differences, but who are nonetheless allies in ways that are stupid and self defeating to ignore (Susan Sarandon is in this way as bad as Ted Cruz)--are also in part a product of ignorance of, and indifference to, the American project.
"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
Whither America?

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