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Left's hatred of America consensus fuels divide

The nation mourned former Pres. George H.W. Bush today, and part of the reason he received praise after his death a recent article illuminates, unpacking a key observation about today’s American politics.

Last week, the Baton Rouge Advocate ran a piece about how Republican Bush’s political career intersected with Louisiana. Several of its interviewees, which included officeholders and activists of both major parties, remarked on how Bush had personal friendships with Democrats and a couple lamented that they no longer saw a political environment that encouraged such cross-partisan relationships.

These still exist – look no further than the palling around between Louisiana Reps. Steve Scalise of the GOP and Democrat Cedric Richmond, who share a district fence and a number of similar interests – but in vastly reduced incidence as compared to Bush’s era of the late 1960s to early 1990s. Unquestionably, ideological polarization among political elites has contributed to this.

It wasn’t always that way. In Bush’s political time, almost every policy-maker shared a common conceptualization about America and its government. In essence, they all believed in several things: (1) its economic system provided equal opportunity for individuals to enhance life prospects, with adjustments by government here and there; (2) its promise of neutral, equal treatment of all citizens, after experiencing significant exceptions throughout its history, had come close to fruition and would need only minor alterations in the future to complete the transformation; (3) it needed to continue working at the margins to ensure a proper balance between contending people with rights in conflict concerning the exercise of individual liberties, over issues such as abortion and constitutional possession of firearms; (4) and, based upon its founding principles, that asserting its interests among countries brought benefits both to its citizens and to peoples around the globe.

Studying twentieth century political conflicts through the post-Korean War environment, regardless of party scarcely any politician deviated from even some of these norms (Louisiana’s former Gov. and Sen. Huey Long being one of the few, notable exceptions). Political arguments came within these parameters – for example, did the generally fair economic system have a hiccup that needed fixing through creating Social Security or a minimum wage; how much government intervention would ensure equality in opportunity to compete for jobs and political office without discrimination by race or any other immutable category of people; what defines the unborn as a human being; whether the cost of pursuing an American foreign policy end exceeded the benefits of increased security at home and the ability to shape a world more congruent to American interests.

Debate might become heated, but, in the larger scheme of things, it occurred at the margins because of this consensus. This was the milieu that produced Bush as well as all other prominent politicians of the time, plus those that would maintain influence into the 1990s.

But things began to change around then, through the rise of the post-Great Depression generation. This American cohort became the first in world history to mature outside of an environment of scarcity, with a large segment of it not only having food and housing security on a daily basis, but widespread access to luxuries such as cars, home appliances, and entertainment imported into the home. At the same time, increasingly the economy created value not from holdovers of the previous two economic epochs, agriculture and industry, but from service provision and information gathering and dissemination.

This distraction from values that had produced the world’s first affluent society, that wealth created, and the disconnection between practicing those values and acquiring resources all fermented a generation with a significant segment that not only increasingly didn’t understand how it had come by that status but also and therefore ignorantly rejected those values. Its most virulent form came in the counterculture movement of the 1960s, which became the swamp in which festered most leading Democrat politicians of today that have become part of the Angry Left.

Unlike their predecessors of two generations past, today’s Democrats reject the consensus view of America. They see belief in that concept as a justification for evil-doing: the economic system based upon that is immoral for where wealth accumulates, this idea irredeemably subjugates all but those performing the subjugation who are Christian white males who act heterosexually, its idea of balancing liberties is exploitative because claimants want rights that don’t exist because these become excuses for evil behavior, and that America is bad for the world when not pursuing a global interest because the concept of America that defined it in the past which conflicts with a global interest is evil and immoral.

This unraveled consensus prompted by those willingly blinding themselves to the world as it is and to the truths of the human condition has caused a major breach in American politics. Today, no prominent Democrat politician, from former Pres. Barack Obama and party leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, to presidential aspirants Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and former Vice Pres. Joe Biden, and many backbenchers, doesn’t hold a hatred of an America as it was envisioned through the former consensus.

Their attitude – one alien to American history and having more in common with a segment of Europe’s political culture born of anti-democratic impulses – has triggered a huge divergence in ideology, creating a much vaster gap between liberal and conservative elites. In turn, it makes comity much harder to achieve among them; just consider from the view of the Angry Left, why would you want to make deals with, much less josh around with, figures who advance perpetration of such evil? Similarly, from the political right, what would you have in common with people who reject your valid understanding of the human condition and think you immoral for your knowledge of it?

Personal relationships across partisan lines have become so much more difficult because the political left largely has abandoned the view of American political principles, validated both historically and empirically, shared by partisans of all stripes throughout most of America’s history. Which is why American politics will feature fewer of these in the future until, if ever, the left discovers its gargantuan error in judgment.

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