Correcting the Course
On Toward a More Perfect Union: The Moral and Cultural Case for Teaching the Great American Story by Timothy S. Goeglein.
The end of the Cold War three decades ago followed by the terror attacks in 2001 should have ushered in an era of consensus and bipartisan agreement in the United States. That was what people expected at the time, but it was not what happened. Far from it. Over the past few decades Americans have turned on themselves, dividing into hostile tribes and parties with little common ground to hold the national enterprise together. Those conflicts came to a head in 2020 in a crescendo of violence and protest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and continuing through the coronavirus pandemic and that year’s presidential election.
The United States is more polarized now than at any time since the decades leading up to the Civil War. In contrast to the sectional crisis of the 1850s or the Great Depression of the 1930s, there is no single line of conflict to account for today’s polarized politics and culture wars. We live in a time of relative peace and prosperity, and we do not face any single challenge comparable to slavery or mass unemployment. America is coming apart but it is hard to explain why.
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James Piereson is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
Painting by John Trumbell