In a speech last week at Tufts University, everyone's favorite Congresswitch Nancy Pelosi made an interesting statement:
To my Republican friends: take back your party. So that it doesn’t matter so much who wins the election, because we have shared values about the education of our children, the growth of our economy, how we defend our country, our security and civil liberties, how we respect our seniors. Because there are so many things at risk right now -- perhaps in another question I'll go into them, if you want. But the fact is that elections shouldn't matter as much as they do...But when it comes to a place where there doesn't seem to be shared values then that can be problematic for the country, as I think you can see right now.
The obvious reaction from the Right is, naturally Nancy would prefer that the last election hadn't mattered as much as it did: it booted her out of the House Speakership. A little sour grapes, eh, Nan?
In reality, Ex-Speaker Pelosi is on to something vitally important, something which other pundits and politicians have been noting for a while now without quite hitting on the underlying cause. We're not one nation anymore.
Gov. Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown in California has been calling our current political situation a "regime crisis." He's been telling everyone that our country is more divided than at any time since the Civil War. He's right, though a bit slower on the uptake than Scragged: for a decade now, we've seen a worrying and ongoing habit of political opponents attacking, not merely politicians' policies, but their very legitimacy in office, beginning with the bogus mantra of "Bush Cheated" and continuing through forged birth certificates purportedly showing Barack Obama to be born a Kenyan.
The South voted in the 1860 election, but they made it clear that if Lincoln won, they'd bail. Regardless of his victory at the polls, they would not have him to rule over them. Quite a few people feel that way about Mr. Obama; a great many Democrats, and our entire media and academic elites, felt the same about Mr. Bush.
We are also beginning to see an increasingly hard and fast political whiplash. It is normal for Republican presidents to pursue conservative policies and Democrats liberal ones; it is not normal for the changes to be quite so profound. Mr. Obama spent trillions more than any President before him; now, a scant two years after his election, Paul Ryan's budget proposes even more trillions in budget cuts. The merits of the positions aside, changes that abrupt and large are always damaging simply by the uncertainty they create.
There is a reason why our divisions are so vast, and our politics so extreme. Nancy Pelosi put her finger squarely on the problem: we truly don't have shared values, nationally speaking.
We have always had political disagreements. In the dark of the Depression, Republicans charged that Roosevelt's socialism and all-intrusive New Deal would lead to socialist tyranny. They were only half right: we got a degree of socialism but not tyranny.
Despite their disagreements, there was still common ground and mutual respect. Republicans were appalled when Roosevelt ran for an unprecedented third term, but he didn't cheat, he was duly re-elected by voters, and his holding of the office was respected by all.
Not even the most rabid Republican doubted Roosevelt's commitment to defend this country against outside attack; when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Republicans and Democrats alike taxed and spent whatever was required to win the war.
The same attitude of shared political values held for decades. Unfortunately, the #1 shared value was "more spending." Republicans and Democrats alike grew, and grew, and grew the government; there might be some debate over how much, but never over whether. When aged Democratic Senators bemoan the loss of "collegiality" that they remember from their youth, what they really mean is that back then, they got their wasteful way all the time and now they occasionally don't.
That big-government consensus has gone the way of the dodo. The government cannot continue to spend twice what it makes; either taxes must be raised massively, or spending must be annihilated. It's simple math.
As Nancy Pelosi so accurately says, though, we no longer have shared values.
Where once the country generally believed that government could and should take most of what rich people earn and give it to sponges and welfare moms, today we have learned that this only creates more welfare recipients and fewer rich people.
Where once reasonable Americans thought that, yes, it would be nice if government provided a certain measure of health care for everyone, the sorry experience of England's NHS and Canada's health system has taught that government-run health care is a route to confiscatory taxes, rationing, horrific standards of uncaring "care", and, yes, death panels.
Where once most people believed that, in the abstract, it was in fact possible for government to actually fix problems and make things better, sad history has displayed the omni-incompetence of a government that cannot even defend its own borders or protect its own citizenry in their homes, much less feed the world, lift the poor, heal the sick, care for children, or stop the seas from rising.
Tea Party Conservatives and a few Republican officeholders have learned these lessons. Democrats, the media, academia, and all too many Republican timeservers haven't.
Yes, our values do indeed differ. They differ profoundly; they clash explosively; and they are about to collide catastrophically as even the New York Times admitted.
The only way we can survive as one nation is a return to Constitutional Federalism where the Federal government does as little as possible and the states can go whichever direction seems best. If Vermont wants to provide a totalistic Canadian-style single-payer health care system, and Texas instead were to decide to boot sick deadbeats out onto the street, why not let them do so and allow voters to be the judge?
Nancy Pelosi and her fellow statists would never allow this freedom; it must be all their way, all the time, all across the country, with elections a mere formality as the leftist bureaucracy controls us all unimpeded. In other words, bringing the elitist philosophy of the unelected and all-intrusive European Union right here to America.
Americans aren't Europeans; at least, a fair few aren't. If she and her ilk won't leave them alone, they'll make her leave them alone - and bring the prophecies of Gov. Brown to pass.