Those of you on edge and hesitant to consider something because you think I’m making a grossly partisan point need to stick around past the next few paragraphs because I will keep nothing from you. But commit to moving beyond the next few paragraphs.
For the last eight years, whether you want to admit it or not, President Obama has succeeded not by uniting everyone, but by dividing everyone into groups and pitting them against each other. If you search this website or my writings anywhere, you will note that one conservative trope I try religiously to avoid is trotting out the name Alinsky. It is overdone and scratches a conservative itch to find the single silver bullet to explain and solve everything. But I do think a lot of leftwing tactics have been employed by the President including “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Alinsky advised to go after people, not institutions, and we see the President often going after groups. Republicans are the enemy, they’re hostage takers, he urged people to get in their neighbors’ faces, he encouraged people to take guns to knife fights.
Essentially, the President has spent eight years playing tribal politics, dividing the rich and poor, the races, the parties, the sexes, etc. and it has gotten to the point where even President Obama acknowledges he has contributed to the partisan rancor in the country. “It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency, that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” the President said during his last State of the Union.
Straight vs. gay, black vs. white vs. hispanic, rich vs. poor, male vs. female, college educated vs. non-college educated, etc. the country has descended to tribal politics and it has, in part, come about because of a society that, in progressivism, no longer embraces the idea of a melting pot, but has embraced a “salad bowl” approach to assimilation.
The founders believed horizontal and vertical federalism was the salve for this factionalism and regionalism. The federal government should have the limited powers necessary to unite the various factions for national ends, but otherwise should leave people alone. Those who wanted a liberal paradise should be able to live together and those who wanted a conservative stronghold should be able to have it. But now everyone is vying for a one size fits all homogenous tyranny where we are a truly diverse, heterogenous republic and all that does is drive up the stakes.
Concurrent to all of that, Democrats know that black voters are not going to vote GOP so they inflame black voters with grievances and victim ideology to drive up election day turnout while Republicans, knowing black voters are not going to vote for them, just ignore black voters and their concerns. Meanwhile, the black family crumbles caught in partisan politics, but anyone who speaks up and offers solutions who is not of the right tribe is called a racist.
That, whether you agree or disagree, is how a lot of conservatives see the dynamic of the last eight years. You may disagree, but understand that close to half the country sees it that way. To the extent we see things vastly differently, again I think it is a bit of tribalism on all our parts and that we are more and more a nation without common idiomatic expressions and culture. A nation where the hashtag #AmericaWasNeverGreat can become a trending topic on Twitter on Independence Day is not a nation for much longer.
Into this, Republicans are responding not with a candidate who will rise above the fray and try to unite us all back into common culture, but a man with no temperament to do anything other than divide. His loudest supporters embrace a “convert or die” mentality. We are either with him or against him.
Republicans have embraced a man who takes tribalism to new levels and, in the process, have put on blinders and willfully ignored how much he excites white nationalists and the race baiters of the right. For every New Black Panther in love with Barack Obama there are two white nationalists willing to march through hell for Donald Trump.
The GOP response, largely driven by anger, has been to double down on what they perceive caused Barack Obama to win. They have decided to embrace what they consider are the tactics of the left with gusto. Instead of trying something different or to be better than they perceive the other side, they’re going to try to deploy what they perceive as the President’s playbook with a man far more divisive and even less able to unite the nation.
The Republican Presidential candidate laments how divided the nation has become while playing on those divisions in the same way Barack Obama has.
The Democrats’ successor for Barack Obama is likewise unable to unite people. Neither party is playing to the idea of America, but to base mobilization, fear, and our lesser selves.
The party that claims to represent the poor has chosen a woman who got rich through government service. The party that claims to represent the family has chosen a man who has destroyed families.
We have reached a moment in this country where most everyone lacks seriousness and the one institution that should fill the void, the church, is on the defensive in some cases and in others has descended as much into the culture of left and right as the secularists have.
I’m afraid 2016 is the beginning of a chaotic time and not a one off occasion. We may look back on 2016 as the calm before the storm. What is most galling to me is that my party, the party I once served as an elected official, has turned to a man who has no intention of uniting the nation, who brings out the worst in absolutely everybody, and with so much on the line has so little a chance of even winning. But to point this out is to be accused of being a traitor and helping a woman I find equally offensive.
All of this is to say we get the government and national character that reflects us and right now it is all a damning indictment of our American character. How many more will die? How many more Americans will turn against each other? How many will seek blame instead of reconciliation? I suspect more on all counts than the number who might turn and seek the Lord.