Never mind that “a lot of people are still mentally living in that country [my emphasis] . . . their children are not,” says Frum: the jobs and opportunities just aren’t there for them anymore like they once were for their parents and grandparents. (Thus, in addition to the immigration/demographic factor, we have a generation gap to ponder about in order to help us account for the gradual shift in both the composition and voting patterns of the American public, come 2012.) Also never mind that the grand ole’ party of yore has become hijacked since by the “corporate-boardroom” types. At least the conversation is on! And it’s not a conversation between liberals because the liberals have just won and are still smarting from their victory: having just been given the stamp of approval, they have no reason to question their self-assured ways. Nor is it a conversation between liberals and conservatives, unless by “conversation” you mean the kind of gridlock we’ve all been exposed to by our do-nothing Congress for four years now and counting on virtually every aspect of policy, foreign or domestic. No, it’s a conversation between thoughtful conservatives, rare as they may be, for only they, not the liberals, have the right kind of motivation to recover from their loss, to search their hearts and souls, to reflect and to evaluate. And who knows, each of us may end up the wiser for the fact.
If “pro-life” and “pro-choice” form a set of seemingly irreconcilable positions on the abortion question, what fundamental issue splits the American public along the liberal-conservative divide? Again, taking the lead from David Frum, one could say it’s the belief in the new and the old America, but we can do better than that. Indeed, once we consider the steady demographic shift due to both the influx from immigration and differential birthrates between whites and non-whites, and its presumed impact on Mr. Obama’s re-election victory, a more precise formulation suggests itself, a formulation which brings the desired contrast into sharper focus: in the final analysis, it’s the belief in the utter dependency (on the largesse of the liberal government) on the one hand, and the belief in complete self-sufficiency on the other.
And so, here we are. While the Republican hierarchy perpetuates the myth of the American Dream among its rank and file, a myth that, in light of all the available evidence, should long since be discarded, the Democratic establishment is no less guilty for implying that if we are at a disadvantage in any way, we can’t do without the government’s help. Needless to say, these two positions, as stated, are not only mutually exclusive: though both contain a kernel of truth, they’re also utterly cynical and ideological to the core.