We talk a lot about the political divide in America, but this division is in actuality a cultural realignment as well. Its focus isn’t on race, but instead conflicting visions of life, success and authentic human flourishing.
The key to coming out of this cultural revolution with the American way of life intact is understanding that the power of the isolated individual is a myth.
How many of us remember “Julia,” an Obama-era cartoon creation about a young woman who lives her whole life in a state of government-managed dependency and conformity? Julia was a symbol of socialism in America at a time when the concept was still outside the mainstream of political thought.
Then there was “Pajama Boy” — the Obama administration’s pathetic propaganda campaign to rally young people, against their own interests, in support of Obamacare. Pajama Boy encouraged millennials to lounge around, sip hot chocolate in a plaid onesie with friends and talk about health care.
In late 2020, the New Yorker magazine — the liberal intellectual’s guide to America — published on its cover an image of a young woman, presumably in COVID-19 isolation, in front of her computer. Many on social media regarded it as a powerful symbol of autonomy and freedom.
But sitting in a trash-strewn shoebox of an apartment with your cats, your prescription drugs, Chinese takeout and your screens does not amount to the American Dream.
Normalizing the anti-social behavior depicted on the New Yorker cover, using the pandemic or digital convenience as an excuse, is not only morally problematic but also makes people more vulnerable to government control.
Separated from family, church and community, a person inevitably grows dependent on the state. These isolated individuals will claim to be free-thinking intellectuals. They will look down their noses at flyover country, with its religion, guns, marriages and kids. They eschew the rich social networks that make self-government possible.
The life of the woman on the cover is hollow, just like the leftist propaganda of Julia or Pajama Boy. Think about what this scene will look like in 10 years once virtual reality, sex robots and pleasure implants become more affordable and more realistic.
Those who regard these pathologies as a full life, neatly packaged in all its digital minimalism, diverge naturally with the rest of America. They are the prime targets for the left’s indoctrination.
For most people on the other side of this American divide, the days are still filled with hard work, sweat and calloused hands. They’re not consumed by the latest crusade for transgender rights because they’re too busy running a business or raising a family.
The generation depicted by the New Yorker grew up in a therapeutic culture which de-emphasized or even attacked personal initiative. The results are unsurprising. Antidepressants and illicit drug use are up dramatically among those under 35. Church attendance and volunteerism are down. Over half of young Americans under 30 are now living with their parents.
A narcotized digital generation will be pawns for the leftist governments and two-dimensional platforms they believe will help them find validation and fulfillment.
Last summer and continuing today in Minnesota, these aimless young people are given blanket permission to riot by leftist politicians and woke corporations. Cities burn and people are killed. As this manufactured mayhem continues, Americans find themselves more divided than ever before. If this invitation to violence is the “progress” Marxist groups like BLM and left-wing platforms promise, imagine what social stagnation ultimately looks like.
The cultural gap between majority conservative values and those on the left has already warped the concept of American life and success for too many. It’s a cautionary tale for the future of this great nation. It’s a clarion call to again embrace and defend the opportunity to live as God intended, truly free and in community with others.
• Tom Basile, host of Newsmax Television’s “America Right Now,” is an author and adjunct professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where he teaches earned media strategy.
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