Tuesday, June 13, 2017

"Every house divided against itself will not stand." That goes for America, too.

In watching the brouhaha over alleged links between President Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia, and allegations of who said what, when, to whom, and why, and what the words mean, I'm driven to a conclusion already reached by many.

This nation is irreparably, irreconcilably divided against itself.

That became clear during the Presidential elections last year.  Even before the vote, researchers identified several key areas in which the two sides of our political divide have become more and more divided.  What's more, that divide has come to dominate different areas and groups in our body politic.  To name just one example, since President Trump's election, the mainstream news media (dominated to an extraordinary extent by the left, progressive wing of US politics) have unleashed a barrage of insults, disdain and attacks that is almost unprecedented in its uniformity.  Sure, past Presidents have faced similar attacks from a segment of US media;  but there were always almost equal and opposing resources to respond in kind.  That's no longer the case, thanks to the domination of the media by left-wing money and groups and individuals.  Alternative views are all but drowned out by the hubbub.

What's more, the mainstream media no longer care about non-partisanship.  They openly advocate for one side or the other.  A classic example is an article in the Washington Post last Sunday titled 'Is media coverage of Trump too negative? You’re asking the wrong question.'  A key quote:

The president’s supporters often say his accomplishments get short shrift. But let’s face it: Politicians have no right to expect equally balanced positive and negative coverage, or anything close to it. If a president is doing a rotten job, it’s the duty of the press to report how and why he’s doing a rotten job.

There's more at the link.

I happen to believe, unlike the author, that the question in the title of the article is the right question, and needs answering:  and I believe that her cavalier dismissal of the president as 'doing a rotten job' is her own partisan perspective, rather than based on fact.  Therein lies the problem.  She would probably dismiss me as a 'right-wing nut job', rather than take my views seriously.  (I tried very hard to read her article with an open mind, but the partisanship of which it reeked made that very difficult indeed.)  Of course, the same bias and partisanship can be found in articles on the other side of the political divide, as well.  The problem cuts both ways.

A blogger writing under the name of Didact summed up the divide in an article last January.

On the one side, we have always had the small-government libertarian types. Back in the days of Jefferson and Adams, they were the Southern Democrats. They were primarily advocates of an agrarian-focused, decentralised, minimalist, small-government philosophy that generally left people the hell alone to get on with their own business.

On the other side, we have also always had the mercantilists, the industrialists, the big-government centralists. They believed that a strong central government was absolutely required to prevent the new nation from being overwhelmed by its competitors and sinking into irrelevance or slavery under a foreign power.

That ideological difference has persisted, in various forms and espoused by various parties, all the way through to the modern day. That is of course well known. Eventually, the divide became so deep and so bitter that it resulted in the War Between the States, which Northerners rather oxymoronically refer to as the Civil War, and Southerners somewhat more accurately refer to as the War of Northern Aggression.

That divide was eventually papered over, at least somewhat, by the North's crushing victory over the South. To this day, the South still hasn't fully recovered from that defeat and the years of the Reconstruction Era that followed- and the wounds and scars inflicted by that defeat still linger on.

But- and here is the key difference between then and now- even throughout those times of bitterest division and discord, the two sides were able to talk to each other, right up until the time for talking was over and there was nothing left to do but start shooting.

And that is precisely what America has now lost.

You will not find finer exemplars of the two spirits of America than Presidents Adams and Jefferson. One believed completely in a strong central government; the other believed equally completely in a weak one. The two argued, often contentiously and always with eloquence and conviction, in favour of their respective positions.

Yet the two of them were also closer than brothers. Their respect for each other transcended their political differences and united them in their love for their new country, and their desire to see it succeed. Not for nothing have they been called "Founding Brothers".

This is what America has lost today. The two sides of the debate no longer talk to each other. They talk past each other.

Again, more at the link.

Many people recognize the existence of this divide in America;  but not many have thought about its implications for our nation as a whole.  Well, I'm a pastor, albeit a retired one.  I try to look at and think about this country from the perspective of my faith, just as others will see it through the filters of their own biases and perceptions and bedrock perspectives.  That faith makes me ask:  have things gone too far?  Have we reached a tipping point?

Jesus warned us:  "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand."  Right now, our 'kingdom' (or country) is divided against itself.  Right now, our cities - overwhelmingly left-of-center in their political orientation - are divided against the heartland that feeds and sustains them.  Right now, our houses - our families - are often divided on political, social and economic issues.

Can this nation, in its present form, survive a divide so deep, so bitter, and so vitriolic?  I don't know . . . but I have real and very serious doubts.  What say you, readers?



Anonymous said...

I agree with Colin Woodard's thesis, which is that different regions of North America were founded by different cultures. In each region, the culture and viewpoints of the founding group tends to linger even after all this time.

You can see a map of these cultures, by county, at:

At the current moment, a coalition of "Yankeedom" and "The Left Coast" has come to a point where they dominate and repress the other groups. You can read Woodard's discussion of how these cultures clash in politics at http://emerald.tufts.edu/alumni/magazine/fall2013/features/up-in-arms.html


As to Adams and Jefferson - you have picked exemplars of the Yankeedom and Tidewater groups.

Founded on the shores of Massachusetts Bay by radical Calvinists as a new Zion, Yankeedom has, since the outset, put great emphasis on perfecting earthly civilization through social engineering, denial of self for the common good, and assimilation of outsiders. It has prized education, intellectual achievement, communal empowerment, and broad citizen participation in politics and government, the latter seen as the public’s shield against the machinations of grasping aristocrats and other would-be tyrants. Since the early Puritans, it has been more comfortable with government regulation and public-sector social projects than many of the other nations, who regard the Yankee utopian streak with trepidation.

Built by the younger sons of southern English gentry in the Chesapeake country and neighboring sections of Delaware and North Carolina, Tidewater was meant to reproduce the semifeudal society of the countryside they’d left behind. Standing in for the peasantry were indentured servants and, later, slaves. Tidewater places a high value on respect for authority and tradition, and very little on equality or public participation in politics. It was the most powerful of the American nations in the eighteenth century, but today it is in decline, partly because it was cut off from westward expansion by its boisterous Appalachian neighbors and, more recently, because it has been eaten away by the expanding federal halos around D.C. and Norfolk.

Anonymous said...

( Actually, looking carefully at the various cultures: While Jefferson lived in the Tidewater region, his views are more in keeping with the Midlands culture:

America’s great swing region was founded by English Quakers, who believed in humans’ inherent goodness and welcomed people of many nations and creeds to their utopian colonies like Pennsylvania on the shores of Delaware Bay. Pluralistic and organized around the middle class, the Midlands spawned the culture of Middle America and the Heartland, where ethnic and ideological purity have never been a priority, government has been seen as an unwelcome intrusion, and political opinion has been moderate. An ethnic mosaic from the start—it had a German, rather than British, majority at the time of the Revolution—it shares the Yankee belief that society should be organized to benefit ordinary people, though it rejects top-down government intervention.

Jon said...

While I generally agree with your thesis, I pretty much dismissed "Didacts" arguments when he brought up the "War of Northern Aggression" line of thought. That is part of a self-serving and romanticized view of the Civil War that the South adopted to soothe their wounded pride called the "Lost Cause". That argument is well demolished here: https://www.prageru.com/courses/history/was-civil-war-about-slavery

A more complete exploration of the "Lost Cause" is found here: http://civil-war-journeys.org/the_lost_cause.htm. It was primarily championed by Jubal Early, one of Lee's generals. He was in fact a white supremecist throughout his life, who saw slavery as an institution that was necessary for the african people.

Also, the claim that the South still has not recovered is belied by the vibrant economy in the South. Certainly, parts are still in poverty but the same could be said about the north. Appalachia is probably in the worst shape, but that has most to do with education and opportunity.

Oh, and for the longest time, Jefferson and Adams were bitter rivals. I'd suggest he find some real history, and stop just reading the bits he approves of.

Our history is complex, the causes of the civil war are complex. We do no service to the present by misunderstanding the past.

B said...

The issue is that the LEFT (and, to a lesser extent, the Right) is un able or unwilling to attempt to coexist, and to try to see the other side.

How can one attempt to find compromise when the other side refuses to even try to see the opposing viewpoint? We tried to see their side, and tried to understand it. The Leftists refuse to even try to find common ground, and refuse to acknowledge that the other side has valid arguments. They want Big Government Socialism, period.

The Left refuses to try to find any accommodation to any viewpoint different from their own. Therefore, there can be no accommodation and no compromise.

All that is left is annhilation.

Anonymous said...

Jon is right. Southern Democrats didn't believe in liberty as it applied to black Americans. And the civil war was started when the confederates attacked Fort Sumpter.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't help that the progressives, as well as many of the liberals and conservatives, either cannot or refuse to accept reality. There is also no longer any notion of moderation. So we have pathological altruism that further splinters our nation due to the influx of people who neither share our values and culture, nor do they want to. We make stupid laws and decisions based on what we think the world should be instead of how it really is, which only exacerbates our problems in dividing us deeper.

Diversity is not our strength. We cannot receive ALL the refugees without regard to whether or not we can actually afford to. We cannot support ruinous economic decisions and continue to bail everyone out because they are too big to fail. We cannot continue under the corruption in our legislative branch who put feelings above actual law and reality.

I wish our country would come to its senses before it runs screaming off the side of the cliff. I don't, however, maintain much hope. The idealists among us have made agreeing to disagree an impossibility. We can no longer agree to live and let live, and only the rights of protected groups matter. The idealists are backing everyone else into a corner, and sooner or later, there will be no corner left to back into.

Ray said...

I found Professor Mead's model more useful:
- Wilsonian
- Jacksonian
- Hamilton
- Wilsonian

Along with Sarah Hoyt's comments on cultural Marxism including the Frankfurt School of Cultural Relatism, plus Alinskys rules for radicals.

Builds a good model of the US culture.


Where US media is going, I have no idea. They seem at war with Trump and are taking a huge amount of damage to their reputation for impartiality. Breitbart, Drudge, and other alternative channels are arising. And the internet giants, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Wikipedia, and Google, are curating what is first shown to users.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

What is going on right now doesn't strike me as an 'irrevocable divide' so much as the thrashing about of a political movement that is losing its footing. I read about similar silliness on the part of Republicans during the Depression; The New York money elite that had been running the party hated, hated, HATED FDR, and made fools of themselves doing so.

The Progressive Left has been losing momentum since Watergate. That was pretty much their peak, and all it got them was four years of Jimmy Carter (who they drove round the bend). Oh, they had a lot of momentum, and it has carried them a long way, but since Nixon I really think they have consistently spent more political capitol than they gained.

Is the transition to whatever new elite climbs out on top going to be messy? Sure. But I don't think it's going to be anywhere near as messy as that one that saw the collapse of the Planter Aristocracy.

I could be wrong, and I do see trouble on the horizon (of another sort). But I really think the Progressive Left is in decline, and the hour we are seeing is the accompanying tantrum.

JohninMd.(HELP?!??) said...

Rush Limbaugh has postulated that the leadership and command of the Left has fallen from the Democratic party, by default, to the media. As it appears the worst of the opposition is being driven by the Lame-Stream media,he may be on to something.

Anonymous said...

What I think the press is missing is that when they throw fair reporting under the bus, they lose the audience that feels contrary to their feelings as well. Which means lost revenue from persons / companies who no longer use their service. So they speak only to people who agree with them - they learn nothing.

Good new for conservative news agencies like OAN and others who will gain advertising dollars though. Have to look at the silver lining.

It is a shame that so called adults cannot behave better than a spoiled child.

Unknown said...

Was the ACW about slavery?
To the planter class of the South, it was. To the vast majority of the Southern population, it wasn't. To nearly all of the population of the North, it wasn't (at least not until after the butchery of Cold Harbor).
So, in balance, it wasn't.
Except that Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens were planters who did sometimes put class solidarity above the interests of the nation... (If backroom politicking hadn't successfully sidelined Toombs, it's nearly certain that a number of things would have played out differently.)
Sure, you can cherry pick a quote from the Confederate Vice President talking to planter political supporters saying that it is. (sarc) Because politicians *never* flatter their supporters. (/sarc) But it's clear from the letters the Confederate soldiers left behind that they did not see themselves as fighting for slavery.
So yes, it's complicated. But on balance, it wasn't.

With respect to Fort Sumpter, it's necessary to note that it was owned by the state of South Carolina. The federal garrison stationed at Fort Moultrie seized it by force. After the Confederacy had contacted them arranging transportation and safe conduct back to Union territory.
Blaming the South for that is nearly as egregious as blaming the Poles for WWII.

Scott H said...

The problem that I see is that the Left has rejected reason. They appear to believe that reality
is controlled by people's beliefs. This means that there is literally no possibility for
discourse between Progressives and non-Progressives as each side rejects not just the ideas, but
the thought processes of the other side. It does not help that Progressives have no respect for
either other people's property or their right to not associate with anyone they don't want to
associate with.

Murph said...

The more centralized our governance becomes, the more divided the population will become, as well. There was a reason that the founders designed the Constitution to restrict the central government to matters of *national* importance.
Regionally-arising political differences, self-interest groups/factions, distinct religious followings, and the like, ... all should be addressed (if necessary at all) at the most local, & therefore accountable, level of governance possible.

The divisions that we see in our national population result from the increasing intrusions on American individualism of a few people, be they agency bureaucrats, black-robed judges, or a man with a pen and phone, imposing singular rule on a polity of 300+ individuals. ...because they will not take the time & effort, and use the arts of persuasion, to convince a majority or super-majority of the representatives of We, the People, that this or that proposal is necessary and proper and of benefit for the country as an indivisible whole.

Bah. Humbug. A pox on them all.

BFR said...

The fundamental issue is one which, if not recovered, will eventually lead to a complete collapse of the United states as it was constituted.

The U.S., regardless of the personal faith of any individuals, was built upon a culture that was produced by a distinct and closed set of shared values. As Jude put it, it was "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." Notice the definite article: it was "the faith", not "my" faith. There was a belief that there really was something objective called good and evil, even if there were disagreements around the edges of the premise. There was a belief in God, regardless of current protestations about any "Danbury" letter that was really written to assure the recipients that no specific denomination of Christianity should be given the status of favorite. (You cannot expound upon Church and State without a priori concurrence regarding the definition of "Church".) The shared value system that was in the public square and acting as guardrails for the culture was by and large Christian.

That is now fading and almost gone, and with it goes the rest of the house.

This is no longer a kingdom divided; it is a house whose foundation has been intentionally destroyed, and what it now rests upon is sand.

Larry said...

No, Ft. Sumter was emphatically not own by South Carolina. Good rundown here

Anonymous said...

If the Civil War was solely about slavery, why did some slave states stay in the Union? Why did Lincoln only free slaves in the South?

IMHO we are seeing a complete lack of trust in the ruling class in both political parties. Both sides have over promised and under delivered to the factions after Reagan left office.


LindaG said...

I agree with your observations, Peter. We have come to similar conclusions here. I can see the states splitting into three or four factions. We have way too many illegals in this country that want no part of a United States; and indeed work to fracture it more, just as our socialist liberals do.

It has been coming for a long while and Congress is more to blame than the President.

My faith tells me, "Come Lord." I think a lot of people are seeing more of Revelations today than ever before.

Anonymous said...

It's become very apparent that the divide(s) in the US are too deep to be repairable. The left, the progressives and those who control the deep state have no desire to live with, near, amongst or even see what can be best described as Heritage Americans. They hate them and everything they stand for. They hate that they exist. They're more than willing to use whatever means necessary to see that they don't. They've imported millions of foreigners to replace them economically and eventually to use them as troops, much like the north did with their imported troops during the civil war. It's hard to convince Joe to slaughter what to him are his own kin and countrymen but Jose or Jamal, or Jafar will have no such reservations. Most of Heritage America knows this if only subconsciously at the moment. Why do you think they're buying guns and ammunition at record rates even with a less threatening occupant in the Whitehouse? They're suddenly really keen on shooting ducks? They know deep down, even if they can't yet admit it to themselves, that the American Republic they've known, fought for and loved is dead. What now exists is indifferent or hostile to them and their beliefs and no amount of voting is going to change that fact. They know when the whole bubbling, seething mess explodes they're probably going to need those weapons. It is painfully obvious America as it is currently composed cannot live as one country. I pray for a peaceful, amicable, orderly separation. I'm not one of those who wetdream of some sort of violent revolution where armies of patriots march on Berkley and DC. I hate and detest war. Unfortunately I can also look at history and see how rarely countries peacefully break apart. The whole thing just sucks.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter;

The prior postings are good but I will just add a couple of things, the elitist/progressive movement view themselves as "our betters", they are educated and believe that they know what is best for the rest of us. They hate us and despise us and call us "deplorable", but they know that they need us to support the society that they want to build as a monument to their glory.They want to rule and we just do what we are told and produce goods and food to support THEIR society. The average progressive don't believe in God, they want their legacy to themselves on this world. This will lead for slavery or servitude for us.

Ender said...

@Jon: Thanks for your comment. You put into words what I was thinking. I really can't stand fake history, especially this neo-Confederate nonsense such as the "War of Northern Aggression" or the false ideas that South Carolina owned Fort Sumter in 1861 or that the garrison at Fort Moultrie seized Fort Sumter by force. I don't know where people come up with this stuff.

Unknown said...

If South Carolina ceded no more power to the federal government than the text of the Constitution laid out, and retained all other powers as is explicit in the 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights, then the secession of state necessarily means reclaiming of sovereignty over it's own territory.
Of which, Charleston Harbor was undoubtedly a part.

You're starting from the assumption that secession was illegitimate. I dispute that assumption.
If you start from the position that secession was legitimate (and you can easily cite the Constitution, the debates over ratifying it, The Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and some 90 years of public statements by statesmen of all stripes, to bolster that claim) then the Fort was South Carolina's. (Although the federal government would have a claim for renumeration.)

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of posting, and comments I really enjoy. And I'll note with the point Peter had, for the most part different views have been presented and discussed openly. It feels really good to read.

I do not know if I am broadening or narrowing the topic, but to come back to the WaPo article that kicked it off: I wish I had experience in France, Italy, or UK. To my mind, a raised USAmerican mind, there is a strength in our self-supporting, polarizing, two-party system where topics are tested in a for-or-against crucible. With the important caveat, as long as one party does not hold reign too long and become entrenched. It used to give us a way to focus in a clearly divided right/wrong way until we made a decision that all could abide, and both sides claimed it was their idea all along.

But these other places, I've been told, don't do it that way; and make no pretense about it. Each newspaper was, or now news service is, representative of an editorial viewpoint that everyone recognizes before choosing which one to read or listen to. In fact sales/revenue was a good indicator of the public view at any given time. And you could always pick up a different one to read someone else's view, bad insulting words and all, to learn how the opposition felt.

So which approach is more honest, promises more longevity, or is in short better? I can't tell from here.

Thanks for the great read, everyone above.

Ender said...

@Unknown: Larry already answered your contention concerning the ownership of Fort Sumter, though his link didn't work. Let's see if I can fix it: Who Owned Fort Sumter?
See also: Ownership of Fort Sumter

DaddyBear said...

Seeing the news from Virginia this morning, I'm afraid you're right. If this doesn't end soon, we are going to come to a very bad place very soon.

Larry said...

Lincoln had no power to do anything more than he did. To do more took the 13th Amendment.

Larry said...

That was the novel theory advanced by the southern states. The text of the Constitution says nothing about what happens to land ceded to the Federal government. The 10th Amendment doesn't even begin to bear upon the issue. It is talking about individual rights, not the rights of states.