The Four Americas

Arnold Kling’s latest post is somewhat related to the one on which I commented yesterday. The new post recaps and assesses George Packer’s thesis that there are four American mindsets:

Free America, Smart America, Real America, and Just America. Free America means the libertarians who favor limited government. Smart America means the management elites who favor economic and technological progress. Real America means the blue-collar Americans who favor dignity and patriotism. Just America means the progressive “woke” who favor economic equality and moral rectitude.

Kling, toward the end of his post, writes: “Real America takes distrust of elites too far. It resists hard truths (about the pandemic, for example). It puts too much faith in Donald Trump.”

I object. The distrust of elites and faith in Trump are reactions to the egregious overstepping by the elites who populate the other three Americas. The overstepping dates back to the anti-war (anti-American) antics of collegians, academics, media types, and politicians in the 1960s (and since). If the elites were somehow tamed or made irrelevant, the passions stirred in Real Americans would subside and they would revert to the kind of moderate behavior that they exhibited in the 1950s.

A reversion to the 1950s would be a welcome relief. The main accomplishment of the libertarians who later came on the scene has been to encourage and abet the breakdown of civilizing moral codes (think abortion-on-demand and homosexual “marriage”). The main accomplishment of Smart America has been to pursue economic growth for its own sake, regardless of the effect on Real America (think off-shoring and globalization). And the main accomplishment of Just America has been to foment discord and discontent for the sake of virtue-signaling. A pox on their houses (think urban riots, the encouragement of homelessness by subsidizing in, and the demonization of straight white males of European descent).

Related post: 1963: The Year Zero