What Exactly Do Americans Have in Common Anymore?
Americans have always had the ability to “vote with their feet” and in recent years, after looking at the belief systems and cultures developing around them, they have been doing more and more of that:
“Between 1976 and 2004, the gap between the parties increased in 2,085 counties; only 1,026 counties (33 percent) grew more competitive. California is the stereotypical “blue” state. But within California, 17 counties grew more Democratic after 1976, and 30 became more reliably Republican. Only 11 California counties (19 percent) became more closely contested. In 1976, 44 percent of San Francisco County’s population voted for Republican Gerald Ford. Over the next seven presidential elections, the percentage of San Franciscans voting for the Republican presidential candidate dropped every four years. By 2004, just 15 percent of San Francisco’s voters supported George W. Bush.”
…Marketing specialists...increasingly...see the United States sorting itself into communities of interest—enclaves defined more by similar beliefs or ways of life than by age, employment, or income or environment,” Riley explained. Marketing analyst J. Walker Smith described the same phenomenon as extreme and widespread “self-invention,” a desire to shape and control our identities and surroundings. Technology, migration, and material abundance all allow people to “wrap themselves into cocoons entirely of their own making,” Smith wrote. People are unwilling to live with trade-offs, he said. So, they are “re-creating their environments to fit what they want in all kinds of ways." -- The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart
Why are Americans increasingly finding each other so intolerable that they are uprooting their lives and going elsewhere? The short answer is that we have very little in common anymore.
As someone who has been in politics for two decades now, one of the things I find striking is how little there now is that liberals and conservatives agree on. For example, if you went back to when I was just getting started, there were plenty of disagreements, but it’s amazing how many big issues today simply didn’t exist back then. Just take a look at these brief snippets from the 2000 Democratic Party Platform and you’ll start to get an idea of what I mean:
“...Democrats believe government's most basic duty is to establish law, order, and freedom and keep citizens safe from crime. When crime is rampant, families are forced off the streets and behind closed doors. When children are ducking for cover, they have a hard time reaching for their dreams. When people are afraid to walk in their own neighborhood, communities are robbed of the basic sense of decency and togetherness. When an overburdened justice system lets thugs off easy, good parents have a harder time teaching their children right from wrong.
...With Bill Clinton and Al Gore in the White House, we changed the nation's welfare system - transforming the program into one that encourages and promotes work. Since 1993, the welfare rolls have fallen to their lowest levels in over 30 years. Today, millions of parents now have the dignity of a paycheck, rather than the stigma of a welfare check. The next step is to help these new workers move into the economic mainstream so that they can support their families.
...Democrats believe that everyone involved in the education system should be held accountable. Accountability means we will no longer tolerate mediocrity and no longer allow failure. Accountability applies to states, school districts, schools, teachers, students, and parents. Everyone must do their part. Nobody can shirk their responsibility. Consistently bad schools should be shut down. No excuses. No exceptions. Every state and school district should identify failing schools and turn them around with all necessary measures and all necessary resources.
…The Clinton-Gore administration provided long overdue leadership in dramatically improving border management and law enforcement, including a major expansion of the Border Patrol and curbs on abuses of the asylum process.
...Parents are struggling to pass on the right values in a culture that sometimes seems to practically scream that chaos and cruelty are cool. Democrats have worked to give parents the tools to have more control over the images their children are exposed to. Parents and the entertainment industry must accept more responsibility. Many parents are not aware of the resources available to them, such as the V-chip technology in television sets and Internet filtering devices, that can help them shield children from violent entertainment.
...Democrats now vow to balance the budget every year, barring a national emergency. But even this is not enough. In the 160 years since the very first Democratic Platform, America has always struggled under a national debt. Today's Democrats believe we should pay down the debt every year until we can give our children the independence, self-sufficiency, and prosperity that will come from an America that is debt-free.”
There was an awful lot Republicans and Democrats didn’t agree on back then, but we did see eye-to-eye on many things including gay marriage, trans issues, open borders, whether reckless spending was a danger, stacking the Supreme Court, ending the legislative filibuster, defunding the police, allowing rioting, colorblindness, and much, much more. Disagreements between parties aren’t a problem per se. After all, the Founding Fathers disagreed on an awful lot of issues, including some big ones like slavery. However, they were able to overcome those differences because, despite those disputes, they agreed on a lot more than they disagreed on.
It also probably helped that back then, politics hadn’t been inserted into EVERYTHING. Today, it’s nearly impossible to get away from politics. You get up in the morning and read about corporations touting woke policies. Your kids go to school where they try to indoctrinate them with Leftism. You leave your house and heavily politicized COVID rules impact your day-to-day life or whether you’re even allowed to work if you’re unvaccinated. On your lunch break, you pop on to social media where you’re censored or encouraged based on your politics. You get home for the night and watch a news program with a heavy political slant. Then, you can settle in for a heavily politicized awards ceremony or sporting event. It’s like our entire culture is engulfed in a toxic, political haze that we can’t avoid.
Worse yet, it keeps getting crazier. Many liberal cities are embracing ideas that could lead to violent revolts in more conservative parts of the country. Deranged men in locker rooms with little girls. Drag queen story hours. Gun confiscation. Teaching white children that they’re oppressors and black children that they’re victims. Decriminalizing shoplifting and rioting while working to decrease the number of police on the street.
It’s certainly not true that all liberals support these kinds of things, but in a sense, that’s irrelevant because they’re also not terribly bothered by any of these things either. It’s the same sort of problem that we see with radical Islamists and “moderate Muslims.” The “moderate” Muslims may not be threatening to murder someone for drawing Allah or setting off a bomb, but if they’re either supportive or at least not opposed to the people that do those things, they’re part of the problem. The same goes for liberals who are fine with Antifa rioting, falsely portraying the country as systemically racist, and a terrorist like Bill Ayers teaching college kids. Whether you’re actively supporting it or just happily enabling the people that want to do it, what difference does it make?
At the end of the day, the biggest problem we have as a nation today is that Americans of different ideological stripes don’t agree on anything of consequence anymore. Can you imagine getting 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans together in the same room to write a new Constitution today? Of course not, because we no longer share the same basic values. Sure, a Republican and a Democrat may both watch the World Series, like eating at P. F. Chang's, and think Breaking Bad was one of the greatest TV shows of all time but is that enough of a foundation for a whole nation to rest on? If one side desperately wants capitalism, small government, free speech, freedom, low taxes, the Constitution, law and order, and a secure border while the other demands socialism, big government, censorship, government control, high taxes, a living constitution, lawlessness, and open borders, how do you bring them together? The reality is that you don’t. We’re in a situation where there can be no meaningful compromise because every single issue is a win/lose battle between two diametrically opposed value systems. When a marriage gets like this, they cite irreconcilable differences when they file for divorce. Unless something big changes in our culture, we’re likely to see our nation do the same thing for the same reasons.