Yesterday's mid-term elections have highlighted one factor in particular: the fact that the United States are only barely united, with many influences dividing her people. A big part of that divide is urban versus rural; people in the latter areas appear to be far more conservative and "traditional" than those in the former. Since cities are growing at the expense of smaller towns and the countryside, that divide is going to favor them to an ever-increasing extent . . . but what about the rest of the country? Can urban voters override rural ones, and expect to get away with it - or will that lead to a rebellion of some kind?
This is made worse by the fact that the major political parties differ only slightly, in relative terms, from each other in terms of policy. Both are focused on power above all things, and both will pander to voters who can deliver that power to them. That means both parties will increasingly focus on offering policies that appeal to the biggest block of voters in the country - the urban electorate. Cold comfort for those living outside the larger cities . . . Jeff Deist points out:
By any objective measure, the ideological and policy disagreements between the national Democrat and Republican parties are not significant. Both accept the central tenets of domestic and foreign interventionism, both accept the federal government as the chief organizing principle for American society, and both view politics simply as a fight for control of state apparatus.
Similarly, differences between policies actually enacted by Mr. Trump and the existing Congress and those likely to have been enacted by Mrs. Clinton and the same Congress are fairly small. While Mr. Trump alarms the Left with his tone and tenor, his actual views on taxes, spending, debt, trade, guns, immigration (the "Muslim ban" was neither) and war (unfortunately his good campaign rhetoric is largely abandoned) plainly comport with the general thrust of Clinton's neo-liberalism.
Today's ugly midterm elections are about style rather than substance, party rather than principle, and power rather than ideas. Americans do not much argue about whether we are governed by DC, and only slightly over how we are governed by DC. But we argue viciously about who governs us from DC.
There's more at the link.
The biggest problem is going to be how to maintain national unity as a people when our elected officials are displaying relentless, non-stop partisanship. I fault both sides equally for this; Republicans are no better than Democrats. I trust neither party to put the country ahead of their bottomless thirst for power. I also don't trust the so-called "Deep State", which has built up its power over generations, and isn't about to surrender it to elected officials without entrenched, massive, prolonged resistance. All of us are likely to suffer as these conflicts play out.
What divides us has become more important to many than what unites us. Victor Davis Hanson notes:
The various ties that bind us — a collective educational experience, adherence to the verdict of elections, integration and assimilation, sovereignty between delineated borders, a vibrant popular and shared culture, and an expansive economy that makes our innate desire to become well-off far more important than vestigial tribalism — all waned. Entering a campus, watching cable news, switching on the NFL, listening to popular music, or watching a new movie is not salve but salt for our wounds.
Again, more at the link.
I'll let Jeff Deist sum up the consequences.
America is barely a country at this point, defined only by its federal state. It is not a nation, lacking cohesion or commonality: we fight over history, the Constitution, the Electoral College and other constitutional mechanisms, immigration and birthright citizenship, not to mention sex, race, class, and sexuality. This utter politicization of American society — a Progressive triumph — is unsustainable over time.
In this environment, democratic voting and elections become an exercise of brute force — vanquishing the other side without resorting to outright violence and warfare.
. . .
We should acknowledge this, sooner rather than later, to avoid a catastrophe. Federalism and subsidiarity, applied with increasing intensity, are the non-violent path forward. Insistence on universalism, decided by a slight majority and applied top-down from DC, will fail here at home in the same way — and for the same reason — nation-building fails abroad.
It's going to be an interesting two years until the next elections . . .