Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Is America Breaking Up?

Pat Buchanan wonders, with good reason, I think, if America is breaking up. Here's the heart of his essay:

[T]he episode [the President's speech to school students] reveals the poisoned character of our politics.

We saw it earlier on display in August, when the crowds that came out for town hall meetings to oppose Obama's health-care plans were called "thugs," "fascists," "racists" and "evil-mongers" by national Democrats.

We see it as Rep. Joe Wilson shouts, "You lie!" at the president during his address to a joint session of Congress.

We seem not only to disagree with each other more than ever, but to have come almost to detest one another. Politically, culturally, racially, we seem ever ready to go for each others' throats.

One half of America sees abortion as the annual slaughter of a million unborn. The other half regards the right-to-life movement as tyrannical and sexist.

Proponents of gay marriage see its adversaries as homophobic bigots. Opponents see its champions as seeking to elevate unnatural and immoral relationships to the sacred state of traditional marriage.

The question invites itself. In what sense are we one nation and one people anymore? For what is a nation if not a people of a common ancestry, faith, culture and language, who worship the same God, revere the same heroes, cherish the same history, celebrate the same holidays and share the same music, poetry, art and literature?

Yet, today, Mexican-Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a skirmish in a French-Mexican war about which most Americans know nothing, which took place the same year as two of the bloodiest battles of our own Civil War: Antietam and Fredericksburg.

Christmas and Easter, the great holidays of Christendom, once united Americans in joy. Now we fight over whether they should even be mentioned, let alone celebrated, in our public schools.

Where we used to have classical, pop, country & Western and jazz music, now we have varieties tailored to specific generations, races and ethnic groups. Even our music seems designed to subdivide us.

One part of America loves her history, another reviles it as racist, imperialist and genocidal. Old heroes like Columbus, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee are replaced by Dr. King and Cesar Chavez.

Buchanan has a point. As we become more and more diverse, as we focus on the things which make us different rather than the things which we share in common, as fewer and fewer Americans revere our nation's history, traditions and founding documents, as fewer Americans speak a common language, we will become increasingly Balkanized. Every nation is subject to certain centrifugal forces that tend to rip it apart. What holds a people together against those forces is a dominant culture in which everyone shares. We no longer have such a culture, or it is rapidly disappearing, and what we do have diminishes its hold on the hearts and minds of Americans with every new generation.

America may well be breaking up, and that fact raises an interesting academic question: Can a democracy long endure when none of its sub-cultures is any longer dominant? In other words, can a democracy survive multiculturalism and its attendant relativism? My fear is that the answer is "no." At least it's hard to think of an historical precedent.


Re: The 9/12 Photo

Several readers have written to inform me that the photo I used to accompany my post titled 9/12 Tea Party was actually taken at a different rally.

I thought when I first saw it that the scene looked too sunny to have been taken last Saturday when the northeast was pretty much soaked in a steady drizzle, but then I thought that maybe in D.C. the sun might have come out more than it did where I live.

Anyway, the pic is not of the 9/12 protest and should not be used as a guage of how many people were in D.C. last Saturday. TCS kindly sent along a link that has some info on the photo. It appears that the shot may have been taken of a Promise-Keepers rally that took place in October of 1997, an event that, coincidentally, I happened to have attended.

I was going to take the photo off the website, but since I'm in it I decided out of vanity to leave it up.



Last year Congress and President Bush agreed to suspend the ban on oil drilling on the continental shelf. Things were set to resume tapping into the oil reserves on the shelf this year, but unfortunately the Obama administration suspended the suspension by imposing a six month delay on the granting of leases needed to begin drilling.

That delay is set to expire on September 21st and the administration and Congress have an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how serious they are about creating jobs, stimulating the economy, balancing the budget, and making us energy independent of the Middle East.

According to a report by the American Energy Alliance (AEA) drilling would add $8 trillion to our GDP and generate $2.2 trillion in new tax revenues. This would go a long way toward reducing the deficit that Congress and the President have burdened us with.

Allowing drilling would also, according to the AEA report, create 1.2 million jobs each year and generate $70 billion in wages. The new jobs would not be limited to just the oil industry but would be realized in a wide spectrum of industries upon which oil drilling depends. It would be a substantial boost to the economies of coastal states like California which are teetering on the brink of insolvency.

The continental shelf holds at least 80 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Since we import about 4 billion barrels a year we could cut our imports in half and have enough oil to last for at least another forty years.

More oil and lower dependency upon foreign suppliers means cheaper gas. Cheaper fuel means lower prices for everything manufactured and/or shipped in the United States. This would be a boon not only to the middle class but especially to the poor.

Democrats in Congress, however, are very reluctant to go along with offshore drilling. They prefer a cap and trade system to reduce fuel consumption that would help reduce global warming. Cap and trade would raise the cost of fuel, kill job growth, make everyone poorer and reduce global temperatures a measly two tenths of a degree Celsius by 2100. It's hard to see why this is a more desirable policy than exploiting the resources we already have, and given the alternatives it's astonishing that there's any debate about which course of action we should follow.

Instead of just reiterating their refusal to allow drilling it would be helpful if the Democrats would share with us the reasons for that refusal.

[Some of the above information was gleaned from an article by Rep. Doc Hastings in the Washington Times.]