We are not the Nation that crushed the horrors of Germany anymore. We aren’t the nation that build with our hands the largest roadway system in the world (at the time). We aren’t the Nation that illuminated the alternative to communism. We just live in it’s shadow.
We chose to be a smaller nation long before Trump announced his candidacy. The American Century is defined by our commitment to our values and holding our partners abroad to the same high standard. Instead we lowered our expectations for ourselves and ignored the violations for luxury. We all know how the iPhone gets made and that sausage pales in comparison. Yet when we discuss the impact of technology we only ask if the screen hurts our own eyes and communities. The American Century was never measured by trade profits, how many census checkboxes our elected officials can fill, or our ability to kill: it was how we embraced our better angels.
We left the information age and entered the post information age I believe with the widespread adoption of the internet. The experts who once maintained knowledge have seceded that role to servers. Information no longer is knowledge in the sense that it can be believed as true. It also comes through as too much information. History has split into a billion threads and we as a nation are left adrift. We don’t teach who we are anymore. My education consisted of a litany of our sins and ways to repent for the creation of the greatest country/empire the world has been blessed with. The wonder that is America and its founding seems to have become unfashionable for the cosmopolitan teachers filling the classrooms. There isn’t a national narrative or wasn’t until Trump appeared on the Horizon. You can disagree with the content but you can’t argue it isn’t a single thread. The left jumps trying to recognize each individual as civilization, the trees over forest.
An example is the recent op-ed by Senator Merkley (D-Oregon) that Democrats should force the nuclear option over Gorsuch because “This is certainly a possibility, since the Republicans have already shown such disregard for Senate tradition and the integrity of the Supreme Court”. This statement ignores it was the Democrats who first went nuclear. One could counter Republican obstructionism forced their hands. That narrative was worn out in 2011. For as big of a tent the Democrats claim to represent, they seem to have a hard time communicating. Instead they turn to condescension when denied. They don’t reach out to those who question and even if they are the future as they claim. Their worldview isn’t any more free than Trump’s. We can vehemently disagree without silencing. When violent protests counter a speaking engagement and people justify preventing words the American Spirit is lost. We must defend the rights of those who make our blood boil. There is no wavering in that ideal. There are no self expression values without that social contract.
To rebuild from the carnage, we need trust. That requires a single narrative that contains all voices.