A Trump supporter holds an American flag at a rally in Madison, Ala., February 2016
The Obama Project
We forget especially the role of Barack Obama. He ran as a Biden Democrat renouncing gay marriage, saying, “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.” Then he “evolved” on the question and created a climate in which to agree with this position could get one fired. He promised to close the border and reduce illegal immigration: “We will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better identify illegal aliens in the workplace. We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws.” Then he institutionalized the idea that to agree with that now-abandoned agenda was a career-ender.
Obama weaponized the IRS, the FBI, the NSC, the CIA, and the State Department and redefined the deep state as if it were the Congress, but with the ability to make and enforce laws all at once.
Obama vowed to “work across the aisle” and was elected on the impression that he was a “bridge builder” who would heal racial animosity, restore U.S. prestige abroad, and reignite the economy after the September 2008 meltdown. Instead, he weaponized the IRS, the FBI, the NSC, the CIA, and the State Department and redefined the deep state as if it were the Congress, but with the ability to make and enforce laws all at once. “Hope and Change” became “You didn’t build that!”
President Obama, especially in his second term, soon renounced much of what he had run on. He raised taxes, stagnated what would have been a natural recovery, weighed in on hot-button racialized criminal cases, advanced a radical social agenda, and polarized the country along lines of difference.
Again, Obama most unfortunately redefined race as a white-versus-nonwhite binary, in an attempt to build a new coalition of progressives, on the unspoken assumption that the clingers were destined to slow irrelevance and with them their retrograde and obstructionist ideas. In other words, the Left could win most presidential elections of the future, as Obama did, by writing off the interior and hyping identity politics on the two coasts.
The Obama administration hinged on leveraging these sociocultural, political, and economic schisms even further. The split pitted constitutionalism and American exceptionalism and tradition on the one side versus globalist ecumenicalism and citizenry of the world on the other. Of course, older divides — big government, high taxes, redistributionist social-welfare schemes, and mandated equality of result versus limited government, low taxes, free-market individualism, and equality of opportunity — were replayed, but sharpened in these new racial, cultural, and economic landscapes.
What Might Bring the United States Together Again?
A steady 3 to 4 percent growth in annual GDP would trim a lot of cultural rhetoric. Four percent unemployment will make more Americans valuable and give them advantages with employers. Measured, meritocratic, diverse, and legal immigration would help to restore the melting pot.
Reforming the university would help too, mostly by abolishing tenure, requiring an exit competence exam for the BA degree (a sort of reverse, back-end SAT or ACT exam), and ending government-subsidized student loans that promote campus fiscal irresponsibility and a curriculum that ensures future unemployment for too many students.
We need to develop a new racial sense that we are so intermarried and assimilated that cardboard racial cutouts are irrelevant.
Religious and spiritual reawakening is crucial. The masters of the universe of Silicon Valley did not, as promised, bring us new-age tranquility, but rather only greater speed and intensity to do what we always do. Trolling, doxing, and phishing were just new versions of what Jesus warned about in the Sermon on the Mount. Spiritual transcendence is the timeless water of life; technology is simply the delivery pump. We confused the two. That water can be delivered ever more rapidly does not mean it ever changes its essence. High tech has become the great delusion.
Finally, we need to develop a new racial sense that we are so intermarried and assimilated that cardboard racial cutouts are irrelevant. Our new racialism must be seen as a reactionary and dangerous return to 19th-century norm of judging our appearance on the outside as more valuable than who we are on the inside.
Whether we all take a deep breath, and understand our present dangerous trajectory, will determine whether 2019 becomes 1861.