America’s Hinge Moment

The numbers are staggering… the US was 80% white in 1980.. in 25 years it will be less then 50%.. a majority-minority nation..
And the country will be something different than it has ever been…

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/03/2016-predictions-americas-sosnik-clinton-116480.html

The country is going through the most significant period of change since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
Across the United States, we are seeing a convergence of economic, technological and demographic forces that is transforming every aspect of our lives. These changes are all reinforcing each other, adding to the pace and the scale of the disruption.

Despite the upheaval Americans are experiencing, voting patterns in presidential elections have remained virtually unchanged for the past 25 years—with the majority of states voting the same way in the last six elections. That’s not unexpected, even at a time of great change, because elections, in fact, historically have served as lagging indicators—not leading ones—of the direction of the country. Rather than forecasting the future, election results help us make better sense of the past.

Our Divided Political Heart.

This book has a promising, if not a bit academic introduction – pointing to the current drift from pragmatism and mixed center as the philosophical basis of the United States, to a one-note mentality centered around a deceptive concept of individualism. A drift from “yes, both” to “this only”.

E. J. Dionne makes the case:

At the heart of this book is a view that American history is defined by an irrepressible and ongoing tension between two core values: our love of individualism and our reverence for community.

(..) We are not very skilled at balance anymore. That is why we have lost our gift for reasoning together.

(..) The United States rose to global preeminence because in accepting our commitments to both individualism and community, we were able to see democratic government as a constructive force in our national life and to use it in creative ways.

(..) We must recover our respect for balance and remember its central role in our history. We are a nation of individualists who care passionately about community.

To the no compromise crowd:

This extreme individualism sees the “common good” not as a worthy objective but as a manipulative slogan disguising a lust for power by government bureaucrats and the ideological ambitions of left-wing utopians. This view has transformed both American conservatism and the Republican Party.

And to protective government, something that failed:

In our history, government has far more frequently been a liberating force that operated on behalf of the many. This has been true not just since the New Deal but also from the beginning of our national experiment.

(..) The intervention of democratic government has often been necessary to protect individuals from concentrated private power. It is government’s failure to live up to this duty that gave rise to the anti–Wall Street protests.

The introduction is beautifully written, very thoughtful and detailed, but dancing a little bit around WHY things have changed like this.

But a good read so far.

US On the Mend.

It feels like things are getting better again.

New job numbers, cooperation in congress, small signs of projects paying off by bringing jobs back home and creating new ones in America.

Maybe the worst part is over.

Adam’s Legacy – Peace with France.

Louisiana

US safe, then doubled. 1800-1803.

Towards the end of the McCullough book now – it seems that the distinctive and momentous achievement of John Adams really was making peace with France while President.

Disregarding constant warfare and ships sunk by the French, as well as world stage humiliation of American Envoys in Paris by Talleyrand and the Directorate – Adams kept cool – resisted warmongers and hawks at home – and requested peace while building a strong navy.

In the end Paris stepped down and offered peace, in 1800.

A few years later Emperor Napoleon dismissed the whole squabble as a “family feud”, and offered the massive territory of Lousiana to President Thomas Jefferson – thereby famously doubling US with a pen stroke.

If,

Adams had declared war on France in 1798-99, US might not even have existed today.

It would probably have been crushed, opening for an establishment of a French Empire in the north-east, and very likely a lasting chaos and warfare between Britain, France and Spain on the whole continent.

If there ever was a point were the fragile young US could’ve become history, it was during those years.

And to some dismay for Adams – the news of the French Peace Treaty was delayed some months due to postal delivery – possibly costing him the general election in 1800.

Partisanship, now and the 1790’s

Electionjeffadams

North vs. South, State rights vs. Federal government. The Election of 1796.

Reading about the campaigns of 1796 when John Adams ran against Thomas Jefferson, there’s really nothing new or original about the media smears and partisanships of today. People tend to believe strongly in different things and often feel the others are dangerously mistaken, at times traitors and liers, sometimes out to destroy the Republic as foreign spies or collaborators.

The issues at that time was the size of the federal government, foreign policy and individual liberty. Some thought a strong DC (or Philly at the time) was necessary to prevent the chaos and slaughter of the French Revolution – others saw that as return to tyranny and undermining the spirit of the Declaration of Independence for the State’s rights.

But,

the kind of bought and manipulated government we see today is something quite different. Both Jefferson and Adams would’ve joined forces and strongly resented that kind of private wealth influence in the governing of the country.