The lines demarcating American tribes are hardening. In some ways they do not seem to be so firm. The Atlantic allowed George Packer to write on this phenomenon. It is a nice enlightened liberal view of the political arena for 2021. It is also a Boomer hand-waving of the problems the current configuration of America faces.
Four Americas conveniently called Free, Real, Smart and Just. He splits the sides as Free and Real (GOP) and Smart and Just (Democrats). He doesn’t want to live in any republic that was just one of these places. He does frame Free and Real in positive ways at times, which should earn him criticism from the left. What he ends with is the good, old Boomer call to learn to live with one another and make it work.
That cannot happen with the language and policies Just America wants to put into place. Packer calls this a bottom up movement when a quick review of donor pages show it is a tool for the top to cram on us. Something created Just America to upend the older order. The CRT push that infects any policy prescription makes this impossible. Several months ago, CDC employees were sharing slides that sure vaccinating the elderly would save more lives but it wouldn’t provide more racial equity. This is a big deal. When equity and racial justice begins to affect literal life or death decisions, you are done. Just America is the driver here as they disrupt each status quo per donor requests.
Packer does not discuss anything like leaning on federalism or using states as laboratories for not just left wing policies but right. Packer does not go anywhere near entertaining splitting the nation up. There’s always common ground. There’s not though. The gaps between the left and right grow and even in his own admission, there is no talking about complicated problems with Just America. It’s not allowed. He is also blind to the absorption of Just America’s ideas by Smart America. They parrot all the same lines and are in thrall to Just America. Smart Americans post Hate Has No Home Here signs in front of their $800,000 townhomes as they can’t make it to marches and protests due to their schedules.
Free America as the Paul Ryan wing has come under the thumb of Just America, too! We can look at 2020 and recall their rhetoric and pandering. Free America was the libertarian psy op, funded by big donors, to believe in any expansion of rights as liberation from government interference without worrying about consequences. Be happy! We’re all making money! Free America hijacked the get off my lawn or frontier impulse that has always been present for elite policy ends. The upper middle class that mouths the Free Anerica lines is not much different than Smart America. Free America and Smart America mix real well together; one just is not up to speed on proper progressive etiquette.
Packer gives Real America a fair hearing but as the crowd least open to Just America, it is framed as backwards. He writes of Palin crumbling on the campaign trail, but looking at polling numbers, McCain really lost when the financial crisis hit. There was no surviving that nor the well oiled Obama campaign. Packer portrays her as in touch with an America dead a generation ago. That isn’t the case. Something recent happened, and Packer should know as he wrote a book on the changes from 1978-2012. NAFTA was a ‘90s creation. China’s economic boom was even later. Immigration destroyed communal bonds in recent memory. Environmental laws hurt natural resource firms all in our near past and are set to do more damage in the name of climate change. The 2008-2010 bailouts showed to Real America that it is a rigged game, but this isn’t a justified grievance? In hindsight, didn’t Real and Free American zones handle covid better?
That is where an intriguing opportunity arises. No not splitting America into a few pieces; that’s too much for enlightened centrists. There is a chance for a hooked up candidate to emerge from our Deep State and go hard against Just America, set the clock to 1999 or 2010 and use Just America as the villain. Bill Maher pretends to be opposed to the woke but still wants those policies, yet one can almost hear him wish for 2008 to return. This figure could beat the Woke villain, but he needs more than that. Not just Just America but the crony capitalist bailouts and excesses of the big business-government relationship. Some big names must be sacrificed to appease Real America. Some protectionism but not too much so he could placate Smart/Free America. Things may have gone too far, and we can recalibrate the dials. The moderate mirage that Biden was could be made real, whether in left or right form, and stabilize the regime.
This would give the federal government a sell by date extension, and do not underestimate how even the right wing base would accept this. Today’s conservatives are yesterday’s liberals so this would not be a hard sell. The Trump administration sold the base on LGBT as long as they are our LGBT. This fix is, of course, only if you feel it required to keep the American sandbox in the same form and shape. Wouldn’t want to think of anything too unorthodox, and we wouldn’t want to admit we’re an empire with all the negative connotations that tag along with that word. We must muddle through and all be miserable together.