We’re all Manicheans now

I will never forget seeing, on the cover of Time magazine, in October 1972, an essay by Lance Morrow that was ostensibly about the last days of the race between Richard Nixon and George McGovern but really about something bigger. I was in college, and it struck me hard. It was called The Two Americas,” and was elegantly written and prescient. The candidates were so unlike each other that they seemed to represent different instincts” about America. They suggested almost two different countries, two different cultures, two different Americas,” Mr. Morrow wrote …

While Nixon supporters tended to be more comfortable,” McGovern backers had their own kind of detachment. Harvard sociologist David Riesman was quoted on part of McGovern’s constituency, professional elites: They have very little sense of that other day-by-day America.”

[P]olicy demands have become maximalist. It’s not enough that contraceptives be covered in the government-mandated plan; the nuns must conform. It’s not enough you be sensitive to the effect of your words and language; you must be punished for saying or thinking the wrong thing. It’s not enough that gay marriage is legal; you must be forced to bake the cake. It won’t do that attention be paid to scientific arguments on the environment; America must upend itself with green new deals or be judged not to care about children.

In that environment people start to think that giving an inch is giving a yard. And so they won’t budge.

Peggy Noonan, The Two Americas Have Grown Much Fiercer

March 29, 2019


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