Politically and increasingly culturally America today is a 50-50 country, more polarized than at any time since the Civil War, and last November’s midterm elections did nothing to resolve the polarization; in fact, if anything it more definitively deepened it, and it has now been topped off with the indictment of Donald Trump, which will exacerbate the tensions until we have our next opportunity to speak as a people in 2024. America remains a center/right country politically and philosophically, but there is an uneasy political coexistence with the center/left on a number of philosophical and foundational issues, which I believe can be broadly identified as profound differences on the nature of man, the source of our rights, and the role of government in our lives. These issues manifest themselves in deeply philosophical questions such as are we an idea or a culture?, are we about opportunity or outcomes?, do we believe in American exceptionalism?, do we favor the individual or the collective?
On some of these issues there are major disagreements, but the center, left and right, tends to a least attempt to deal with them in the context of the underlying principles of the American founding. Not so with the radical progressive left. It has corrupted the progressive views of the early 20th century followers of Woodrow Wilson, remixed them with the Marxist ideologies of Herbert Marcuse and Antonio Gramsci and their major elements today which, under the various banners of “wokism”–BLM, DEI, CRT, etc.–hate America and believe that it is an illegitimate white supremacist regime grounded in centuries of exploitation of the oppressed.
So how do we deal with this cancer that is corrupting American institutions and the body politic?
First, we must acknowledge that the major cultural, political, financial, educational, and large corporate institutions of America are under the leadership of the elites of the liberal establishment, mainly of the center/left persuasion. They own the place. Second, the far left progressives operate at the sufferance of these elites, who either approve of their poisonous activities or are extorted to support them. Therefore, it is this liberal establishment that must provide the leadership to cure this disease; the conservative traditionalists and center/right have no seat at this table.
And what if the liberal establishment is either unable or unwilling to provide this leadership? We might find that the hard right will pick up the fight and hit the streets, and this will not be pretty.
Gregory Stachura says
The bitterness and alienation in our nation post-Civil War was palpable and not likely less severe than today. Our nation was blessed with leaders like Lincoln and Grant who were able to heal the wounds, albeit with some scar tissue. We continued as a federation of states, largely with a live and let live posture until the ‘progressive’ ideas of the Kaiser and his ilk were brought to our country and pressed for uniformity in so many ways that the powers of the states, established by our constitution, were made moot.
Dick Illyes says
So far a simple counterview has not manifested. Trump resonated mainly ecause he was an outsider who clearly had middle and working class needs in mind. The ability of DeSantis to capture meaningful majorities is based on his appeal to parents but is still mainly just resistance against clearly crazy ideas.
We do have a tradition that can provide a framework. Our cultural and political heritage is a level of freedom never before achieved by a human society. Jefferson expressed it in his first inaugural as: “a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, and shall leave them otherwise free”.
Limited government is the answer. Constitutional Restraint is the technique. People want Order and Predictability and they want to be left alone. When that becomes the common counterview things can change very rapidly.
People like Bari Weiss and Elon Musk are doing a lot of good. Dilbert creator Scott Adams has been cancelled but is still holding his huge following with his daily monologue ridiculing Democrats. Only in the Dilbert Cartoon can we have a Black engineer who identifies as White.
The total control of the GOP by single issue Pro-Lifers is preventing development of a simple small government message. Most people are turned off by the demands that no period of allowable abortion is permissible. This issue is the deciding factor driving otherwise normal people to vote for Democrats.
For those who refuse to accept that abortion is the problem, just try telling some people who vote Democrat that you believe three months would be okay and see how readily they agree with the other parts of your message.
Pro-Lifers: Please, give it a break. You really are screwing up everything.
Jim, as usual your evaluation and comments are perfectly on point. I wish I had written it.
As usual, well said Jim. I will pass your comments on to my TWC (now UTEP) colleagues along with the link to your Texas Pilgrim. Separately I will forward to you a recent article by Victor Davis Hanson.
Hope all is well with you and the family
Glenn Lee says
Great piece Jim, as usual. I think that our partisan media is a huge issue.
A great example is the failure of most of the media to report Biden’s connection to China. Yet, we have the continued daily mention of January 6. It would be nice to just get daily news, and there is plenty to cover.
Danny Billingsley says
Great piece Jim. There can be little or no compromise when the right and left are so far apart due to the extremes in both parties.
Dick I agree with much you said, however as a prolife advocate myself, I refuse to accept the blame for the failure of the left and right to compromise on other issues. I don’t think for a second that most prochoice advocates will agree to no abortions after the first trimester. Witness the extreme position of democrats for abortions up to and after birth. To blame prolife folks for the divide in this country is too simplistic, I think.
Dick Illyes says
The pro-choice activates will never change. The problem is that you are driving a huge group to vote Democrat who otherwise support no abortion after what seems to be a reasonable period.
Jim Windham says
Dick – Thanks for responding, but I disagree. The culprit here is the nonsense of the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, which was arguably one of the three worst Supreme Court decisions in U. S. history, along with Dred Scot v. Sandford and Plessy v. Ferguson. It poisoned our body politic for 50 years, not to mention the price of over 62 million abortions during that period. The Republican Party badly failed in anticipating the need for a national strategy to deal with the resulting return of the issue to the states, but this process is underway, however messy it will be. And the pro-life movement deserves our thanks and owes no apology for its steadfastness over the years.
Reg Brockwell says
If the answer to everyone’s questions was followed by “What would Jesus do” and we followed that, we could solve our domestic problems. I know the rest of the world may not go along with that but as long as we think Trump, Biden, democrats or republicans will solve our problems we will never get where we want to be. This is a spiritual issue.
Larry Adams says
Thank you Jim for your thoughts on this issue that has been on my ancient mind a lot lately. Not for me, at my 81 years, but my children and grandchildren. Today’s ( 4/6) opinion in the WSJ ” Trump Indictment Accelerates America’s Race to the Bottom” by Mark Penn and Andrew Stein supports many of your points and adds more. It is not a Trump article at all and well worth finding..
Jim Windham says
Larry – I just read the Penn/Stein piece and was impressed that two liberal establishment types wrote it. We’re going to need a lot more of that from both sides if the slide is to be reversed. Thanks. JMW
Tim Phillips says
Jim, again prescient in your post, it is now time to a positive call to arms, metaphorically, in lieu of the American, Texas revolutions, or first US civil war. We have moved beyond the tipping point of the control of the federal deep state bureaucracy taking control of our lives as US citizens. The deep state combined with the military, medical, and media industrial complexes that sustains itself through ever increasing consumption of personal liberty, wealth, private property, and constitutionally protected freedoms will not, and cannot be righted by the ballot box and democratic process.
So, what to do?
Perhaps, the positive proactive non-violent solution is for the current state of Texas to secede from the union post haste.
The first step in this solution is to place a non-binding referendum question on the next election ballot, whilst simultaneously conducting a State initiated and paid for poll conducted at the county level of all ad valorem tax paying people and entities. If either the referendum or poll yields greater than 65% secession approval a bill should be placed on the state legislative ballot to petition the federal government for secession to create the Republic of Texas.
Given that there are minimal federal lands in Texas, with the exception of military bases and Johnson Space Center that may be retained by the US federal government on a rental arrangement with the county in which these bases/facilities are located, Texas of all states is best suited for this action.
Corporate enterprises should be supportive of this effort as they will seek ever increasing presence within Texas to escape the over taxation/regulation and control of the deep state.
Texas would continue to use the US currency, but with the option to establish a gold standard-based currency at the direction of the citizenry of registered voters.
Any and all current federally subsidized initiatives/programs (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) would be phased out and transitioned over time to be a Texas responsibility, regulation, and administration.
Further, Texas will regulate its own immigration, taxation, education, commerce, property and environmental laws. And retain the right to negotiate all treaties and agreements while establishing diplomatic relationships with other sovereign nations including the US.
Read the following carefully, meditate and pray on it – THEN ACT. The clock is running out faster than we know. God bless Texas.
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”.
Ann McCulloch says
The LORD is sick & tired of all of us. Since we act like we are running the world, HE whistles for China to negotiate peace between Saudi & Iran.
We are idolaters just like all the other nations HE has judged. Who do we think we are to usurp the role of the Creator in picking & choosing who lives, or which sex we would like to be. Our god of the intellect is a fool.
Proof: death comes to all men & after that the judgment.