Friday, May 13, 2022

Is America Broken? Part Two

A few days ago I raised the question: Is America broken? I lean toward the affirmative on the issue, but some people, strangely disagree. The debate continues today with two slightly different perspectives.

If you believe that it is your patriotic duty to be optimistic about America’s future you will find little solace in the views of a band of conservative sages. Writing in the National Review, these conservatives accept that things are going from bad to worse in America, but, fear not, they have something resembling a solution.

By their lights America is suffering from self-doubt. Only the hard work of public persuasion, they continue, can right the floundering ship of state.

One feels inclined to point out that they are addressing a state of mind and that they are proposing something very much like therapy.

So, I will be clear. It takes more than an absence of self-doubt. It takes more than high self-esteem and enhanced confidence. It is going to take action on the ground, action that goes beyond public persuasion.

Besides, in order to persuade the public of anything you need a free trade in ideas. Unfortunately, as we have seen through the censorship of the social media platforms, we no longer have a free and open marketplace of ideas.

In the meantime, allow me to pass along some of the National Review thinking:

The American project, as such, is under assault. Our history is the subject of a revisionist critique that is all-encompassing, unsparing, and very often flatly inaccurate. Our traditional heroes are under threat of being run out of the national pantheon. Our institutions, from elections to the job market to law enforcement, stand accused of perpetuating a systemic racism that is impossible to eradicate. Our educational system, from kindergarten through graduate school, is increasingly a forum for crude propagandizing. Our system of government is attacked as archaic, unfair, and racially biased. Our traditional values of fair play, free speech, and religious liberty are trampled by inflamed ideologues determined to impose their will by force and fear.

They continue to say a few words about our capacity for renewal and our ability to overcome despair. Prozac, anyone?

There is no doubt that the country faces severe challenges, many the result of shortsightedness and wishful thinking, but we still have an enormous capacity for renewal. It is because our ancestor patriots rejected despair and kept faith with America that we are here to fight another day.

Again, prescribing common sense and decency-- who could oppose common sense and decency?-- feels a bit weak-kneed. When fighting against ideological fanatics, are traditional values really sufficient?

The ultimate answer to the illiberalism ascendant on college campuses and elsewhere and to the rampaging anti-Americanism of our elite culture will have to be found in the common sense and decency of the American people. The rule of law, federalism, and the protections of the U.S. Constitution continue to be bulwarks against the most ambitious designs of ideological fanatics. Families, churches and synagogues, neighborhoods, and voluntary associations — all under pressure — remain the foundations of society, more relevant to the lives of individuals and communities than social media or edicts from Washington.

In protecting and revitalizing America, there is no substitute for the hard work of public persuasion.

It is hard to do the work of public persuasion when your access to the media is so severely circumscribed. 

So, Victor Davis Hanson is a bit more tough-minded-- to say the least. (via Maggie's Farm) He begins by tallying up the calamities that the Biden presidency has visited on the nation. Though, to be fair, we do not simply want to blame it all on Joe Biden. The Biden presidency is merely the continuation of the Obama effort to transform the nation radically. And that meant, turning Americans against each other, tearing down its heroes, opening its borders, damaging its credibility, allowing crime to get out of control and damaging its constitution.

So Hanson opens thusly:

After a year of politicizing the U.S. military and its self-induced catastrophe in Afghanistan, America has lost deterrence abroad. China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia are conniving how best to exploit this rare window of global military opportunity.

The traditional bedrocks of the American system—a stable economy, energy independence, vast surpluses of food, hallowed universities, a professional judiciary, law enforcement, and a credible criminal justice system—are dissolving.

Gas and diesel prices are hitting historic levels. Inflation is at a 40-year high. New cars and homes are unaffordable. The necessary remedy of high interest and tight money will be almost as bad as the disease of hyperinflation.

There is no southern border.

Expect over 1 million foreign nationals to swarm this summer into the United States without audit, COVID testing, or vaccination. None will have any worry of consequences for breaking U.S. immigration law.

The attack on law and order dates from the Trump administration, at a time when leftist politicians actively supported rioters, looters and arsonists. Crime became righteous because it was being committed as an act of rebellion against oppressive white power elites:

Police are underfunded and increasingly defunded. District attorneys deliberately release violent criminals without charges. (Literally 10,000 people witnessed a deranged man with a knife attack comedian Dave Chappelle on stage at the Hollywood Bowl last week, and the Los Angeles County D.A. refused to press felony charges.) Murder and assault are spiraling. Carjacking and smash-and-grab thefts are now normal big-city events.

Crime is now mostly a political matter. Ideology, race, and politics determine whether the law is even applied.

Inflation is running rampant and no one in the federal government seems to care about the absence of baby formula:

Supermarket shelves are thinning, and meats are now beyond the budgets of millions of Americans. An American president—in a first—casually warns of food shortages. Baby formula has disappeared from many shelves.

Respect for the law, and for the courts has vanished in the mist. Leftists believe that they must get their way. If they do not, they grant themselves the right to defy federal law, the better to threaten and intimidate justices of the Supreme Court. About that, the Biden administration is curiously silent:

Politics are resembling the violent last days of the Roman Republic. An illegal leak of a possible impending Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade that would allow state voters to set their own abortion laws has created a national hysteria.

Never has a White House tacitly approved mobs of protesters showing up at Supreme Court justices’ homes to rant and bully them into altering their votes.

And then there is the mania for diversity. Universities and corporations have been more than happy to be extorted by violent mobs and by media threats to their reputations. They have caved, as universities always have and as corporations almost always do. So, down with merit. Up with identity politics:

Merit is disappearing. Admissions, hiring, promotion, retention, grading, and advancement are predicated increasingly on mouthing the right orthodoxies or belonging to the proper racial, gender, or ethnic category.

When the new campus commissariat finally finishes absorbing the last redoubts in science, math, engineering, medical, and professional schools, America will slide into permanent mediocrity and irreversible declining standards of living.

Now that identity politics is invading science and math departments, we will be lacking the people we need to do the difficult tech jobs. The reason that Silicon Valley is filling with tech workers who were trained in Asia is that there are so few Americans who can do the jobs.

Hanson indicts the Biden administration:

Remember all these catastrophes are self-induced. They are choices, not fate. The United States has the largest combined gas, coal, and oil deposits in the world. It possesses the know-how to build the safest pipelines and to ensure the cleanest energy development on the planet.

Inflation was a deliberate Biden choice. For short-term political advantage, he kept printing trillions of dollars, incentivizing labor non-participation, and keeping interest rates at historical lows—at a time of pent-up global demand.

The administration wanted no border. Only that way can politicized, impoverished immigrants repay left-wing undermining of the entire legal immigration system with their fealty at the ballot box.

Once esoteric, crack-pot academic theories—“modern monetary theory,” critical legal theory, critical race theory—now dominate policymaking in the Biden administration.

The common denominator in all of this is ideology overruling empiricism, common sense, and pragmatism. Ruling elites would rather be politically correct failures and unpopular than politically incorrect, successful, and popular.

Driven by ideology, the Biden administration, continuing the work of the Obama presidency, does not recognize standards of success or failure. Reality has no say when put up against ideals like justice and equality.

More and more, Americans are rejecting the Biden program and leftist ideology. We will almost certainly repudiate it entirely six months from now. And yet, Hanson continues, don’t be cocky. The deep state and social media have the means to counter the will of the American people:

The American people reject the calamitous policies of 2021–2022. Yet the radical cadres surrounding a cognitively inert Biden still push them through by executive orders, bureaucratic directives, and deliberate cabinet nonperformance.

Why? The Left has no confidence either in constitutional government or common sense.

So as the public pushes back, expect at the ground level more doxxing, cancel culture, deplatforming, ministries of disinformation, swarming the private homes of officials they target for bullying, and likely violent demonstrations in our streets this summer.

Meanwhile, left-wing elites will do their best to ignore Supreme Court decisions, illegally cancel student debts, and likely by the fall issue more COVID lockdowns. They will still dream of packing the Court, ending the filibuster, scrapping the Electoral College, adding more states, and flooding the November balloting with hundreds of millions more dollars of dark money from Silicon Valley.

When revolutionaries undermine the system, earn the antipathy of the people, and face looming disaster at the polls, it is then they prove most dangerous—as we shall see over the next few months.

Of course, Hanson does not have any therapeutically correct solution to our problems. In that he seems more tough minded than his friends at the National Review. 


Anonymous said...

I gave up on National Review when it went NEVER TRUMP in 2015. The STUPID was STRONG in those ones...

"So, Victor Davis Hanson is a bit more tough-minded-- to say the least. He begins by tallying up the calamities that the Biden presidency has visited on the nation. Though, to be fair, we do not simply want to blame it all on Joe Biden. The Biden presidency is merely the continuation of the Obama effort to transform the nation radically. And that meant, turning Americans against each other, tearing down its heroes, opening its borders, damaging its credibility, allowing crime to get out of control and damaging its constitution." Democrats have stopped being "democrats" and are now autocrats, and I do not trust any of them. And "Republicans" seem ready to "roll over and play dead".

There IS a southern border, but it's stepped on and stepped over all the time now...

Democrats DELENDA EST!!!

370H55V said...

"It is because our ancestor patriots rejected despair and kept faith with America that we are here to fight another day."

NR is abominably stupid to make that claim. Don't they recognize that right now there are 40% of the inhabitants of what we still refer to as the "United States of America" (and share increasing) whose answer to that claim is "Whose ancesters, kemo sabe?"

Anonymous said...
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IamDevo said...

So it's renewed reliance on our "ancestor patriots", is it? You mean the same ones whose statues are being torn down, reputations besmirched and whose very existence is being erased by those now running the show? Yeah, that's gonna work out just fine. Meanwhile, Imma keep my guns 'n' ammo safe, dry and handy. Rather, I would except I lost them all overboard when my boat capsized in the lake where I was using them to fish.

Anonymous said...

Shooting fish in a lake or pond is difficult. Or so am I told...

Walt said...

It’s not just the pols and the DA’s, it’s the millions who vote for them who are sealed in an impermeable ideological bubble. So it’s not a question of freer media or better arguments convincing them of anything they haven’t been robotically programmed to believe or that can stop them from hating whoever they’ve been programmed to categorically hate. (Ever try arguing on facebook?) Presented with the government’s own stats, a Liberal on fb retorted that if Mayokas said the border was closed, then the border was closed (and I was a Nazi). The only way to beat them is to boot them—overwhelmingly—starting in November.