This post is somewhat challenging because it is going to be two parts. That by itself is not challenging, but one part is going to sound and be pretty negative and partisan. And the other part is going to be pretty positive and hopefully unifying and uplifting about why we are Americans and what brings us together. Which generally has nothing to do with religion, or ethnic or racial heritage, or the country from which our ancestors came. But the national values that we share as Americans.
The negative part first. There are those a major, but a seriously shrinking faction on the Right people who I call Traditional Values Conservatives. Neoconservatives would be more accurate from a political point of view, but certainly conservative in a cultural standpoint in the sense that they want to conserve their way of life and how they grew and how America looked the way up until let’s say the mid 1960s or so. And then of course went through dramatic national changes.
Traditional Values believers believe the country as it has become more diverse across the national spectrum and more tolerant of people who are not like them again across the national spectrum and more tolerant of different lifestyles, that the country as a result has been going downhill ever since culturally and politically. That their Protestant Anglo-Saxon way of life which tends to be deeply rooted in the South and rural parts of America outside of the South is under attacked as there are now a lot less of them. And a lot more Americans of other racial, ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds.
What the Neo-Right calls “Traditional America” starts with the founding of our Federal Republic that grants so many constitutional and individual rights to Americans regardless of their racial, ethnic, religious or cultural background. But Neoconservatives believe those rights are just for them. “Religious freedom doesn’t include Muslims because Islam is not a real religion”. Would be an example of their bigotry. But that would be the modern version of it to go along with how they feel about “homosexuals are people who are immoral and not deserving the same rights as straights. Latinos are Un-American and not deserving the same rights and do not deserve to be in America”.
I could include how our Founding Americans felt about Africans and the African slave trade in America. “Africans are not people and as a result should be treated like animals or property”. But that might be to harsh for some to hear. The problem that the Neo-Right has had in America is they’ve lost almost every cultural battle this country has fought in the Cultural War mostly through the court system and is a big reason why we are so diverse as a country to go along with our immigration system. That we take people from all over the world regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion or sexuality.
Now for the positive side. One of the things that makes America exceptional and yes I do believe in American Exceptionalism is that unlike most European and Asian countries America is not dominated by one race, ethnicity, religion or culture. And yet post Civil War and civil rights movement we’ve managed to live pretty well together as one country that is at least physically still together. Sure there are a tone of things that divide us, but generally not relating to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or even sexuality. What tends to divide us has to do with economic and educational status. To go along with political ideology, lifestyle choices and social status.
What brings Americans together tends to deal with our national values that most Americans share. The beliefs in individual freedom both economic and personal. Our beliefs in the Constitution and at least most of that document, not parts that get cherry picked for partisan political reasons. Our beliefs in freedom to go along with responsibility and tolerance of other Americans who don’t share their political, cultural or religious beliefs. Our beliefs in education, opportunity, helping those in need. That is the only way a country of three-hundred and fifteen-million people or so that is as racially, ethnically, religiously and culturally diverse can function as one country without separating into several different new countries.