If the historic American nation has ended, when did it end?
Regarding your statement, “The country symbolized by Washington is gone, and is not coming back,” I have a question: Who was the last president who was part of that country, and who was the first president who was not?
I don’t know. There’s such a thing as a grey area, where something has largely come to an end but has not definitively come to an end. And then there’s a bright red line, where you can say that it has definitively come to an end. However—and most importantly—people will differ subjectively on where that red line is.
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- You could say, for example, that the period or event that marked the passing of that America was in the early to mid twentieth century, with the huge expansion of federal power and the revolutionary inversion of the Constitution in which the states, instead of being protected from the federal government as per the Bill of Rights, came under unlimited federal jurisdiction as per the distorted interpretations of the 14th amendment.
- You could say that it was the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, when the Supreme Court blatantly wrote its own law overrthrowing state laws, and the country didn’t rise up in rebellion against this.
- You could say that it was the 1964 Civil Rights Act, by which the white American majority in effect defined racial discrimination as the supreme evil which must be eradicated and thus condemned as guilty its own historical existence as a people, and thus consigned itself, and America, to destruction.
- You could say that it was the 1965 Immigration Reform Act, which set America on the path to becoming a non-white country in which whites will be a despised and persecuted minority.
- You could say that it was the Lewinsky scandal in 1998-99, when a decisive part of the country, coming to the defense of Clinton’s behavior, said, “Everyone does it” (which denoted, among other things, that all past U.S. presidents had behaved like Clinton), showing that we had become a nihilist country.
- You could say that it was during the 2000s, when American public opinion, instead of condemning the cheerful extreme sexual promiscuity of Sex and the City, celebrated that program and its stars as glorious icons of our culture.
- Or you could say that it was the passage of Obamacare in 2010, granting the government vast new illegal powers over society.
- Or you could say that it was John Roberts’s decision in 2012 finding that Obamacare was constitutional, on the basis of an absurd argument that was tantamount to giving Congress unlimited power over every person in America.
- Or you could say that it was when Army Chief of Staff George Casey said in 2009 that if Nidal Hasan had been apprehended and kicked out of the Army before he committed the Fort Hood massacre, the resulting harm to the Army’s diversity would have been a greater tragedy than the massacre itself—and Casey was not fired, or even criticized by anyone who matters, for saying this.
- Or you could say that it was when the Congress in 2010 ok’ed open homosexuality in the armed services, with the indifference or approval of a large part of the “conservative” movement, including the future Republican presidential nominee.
Depending on how things hit you, there are numerous points where you might say that we definitely passed a line and ceased forever to be the country that is symbolized by George Washington.
For me personally, it was not any particular event that triggered this realization, but, as I’ve written, a profound change that occurred in my thought, spontaneously and unbidden, one year ago. Prior to this time, no matter how bad things had gotten, I had always held out the hope, unlikely as it might seem, that a recovery was possible, that the country might reject liberalism and at least attempt to restore some of its pre- or non-liberal essences. But in late 2011 I began to think that the country will not turn away from liberalism, no matter how bad it gets, at least until the country has been substantially destroyed.
So, again, I don’t have a definite answer to your question. All I know is that, for me, that America is gone and is not coming back.
However, if you want a chronological marker (which again is subjective, as all such markers must be subjective), I would say that America circa 1960 was still definitely a country symbolized by George Washington, and that America circa 2010 had definitely ceased to be that country. The grey area lies between 1960 and 2010.
Ben S. writes:
I see how your analysis applies to our country’s history. But I was asking specifically about the presidents themselves. It is possible for a country that generally respects its traditions to have a leader who does not, or even the reverse. I see the question about presidents as helpful because it is a question about persons, who can be observed more distinctly and judged more decisively than a whole country at some time in history. You realized this yourself when you characterized Revolutionary America as “the country symbolized by Washington.”
I can’t get my head around the question. I don’t think the positions of individual persons or leaders matter with regard to this subject. It’s a question of the location and thrust of the center of gravity of the country as a whole.
Also, when I said, “the country symbolized by Washington,” I was not speaking of Revolutionary America. I was speaking of America.
Timothy A. writes:
Inspired by some of the dates included in your response, I would nominate the decade (I can’t narrow it down to a single date) which roughly corresponds with what we call “the Sixties”—1964-1973. This would include the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Immigration Reform Act, Roe v. Wade (1973), as well as Medicare and Medicaid (each in 1965), Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the establishment of the EPA (1970) and OSHA (1971), and the Housing and Urban Development Acts of 1965, 1968 and 1970, among many other “highlights.” The ongoing decline of membership in the Mainline Protestant denominations started in about 1965, and the reforms of Vatican II were implemented in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The Philadelphia Plan, the first significant federal affirmative action plan, was implemented in 1970, under President Nixon, the California Family Law Act of 1969 (no-fault divorce) signed by Gov. Reagan, etc., ad nauseam.
” … ad nauseam.”
James P. writes:
The Republic that George Washington created died in 1933. Herbert Hoover was the last president of that country.
The only question now is, who will be the last president of the Republic that FDR created?
A reader writes:
I have to agree: the nation of Washington has ended. I was at Princeton University this weekend attending a function that my son, an alumnus, was involved in. My wife and I spent our high school years and later years in that area and are both aware its historic significance.
Around 10 p.m., we were driving from Princeton towards New Brunswick by way of Route 27 on our way home to Connecticut. For those who don’t know, Route 27 is an attractive, upscale, two-lane country road as it leaves Princeton and wends its way through Kingston towards Kendall Park. As I was approaching Kendall Park, I happened to see a strange, multi-colored lit-up sign on my left at the entrance to someone’s residence. No one else was on the road at the moment and I kept my eyes on that sign as I passed by. Glancing down the driveway into the back yard, I saw a 20 to 30 foot statue of what looked like a sitting Buddha lit up with white flood lights. The sight of it startled me and spontaneously, my body jerked and an incoherent utterance came out of my mouth.
I have driven that road a thousand times in decades gone by and never did I expect to see a sight like the one I saw. Unbelievable. I don’t know if it was someone’s residence or a home converted to some religious site. Either way it seemed so out of place on that country road. And purposely designed to be an “in your face” expression of territorialism. It reeked of disrespect for the passive Americans who allow it.
And I can’t imagine the township allowing a Christian permission to erect a 30 foot Jesus with flood lights on it at 10 p.m. at night in his back yard.
Ronald V. writes:
It you think the destruction of the states marked the end of historic America, then you must draw the line in the 1860s, not the 1960s. The Founding Fathers could not have imagined that one part of the country would wage war against and then militarily occupy another part.
Perhaps you would reply that the 1860s were an aberration and that the country afterwards regained its original character. In that case, the line could be drawn in the 1910s with the Federal Reserve, the income tax and the war in Europe, for these abominations have been a permanent feature of all the years which have followed. That same era saw the introduction of female suffrage which the Founders did not contemplate and a little thought will bring to light the many ways that has debased out society.
I disagree on the Civil War. This is something I’ve written about a lot. You’re forgetting that certain states committed war against the federal government, and that’s how the Civil War began. Further, as you acknowledge may have been the case, after the Civil War, the country returned to states’ rights, with the exception of the 14th Amendment. The federal government was hardly more noticeable in the life of the average American in 1890 than it had been in 1840.
Certainly the developments you mention in the Progressive era could be seen as the major point of departure.
Allan Wall writes:
I find this discussion very interesting. I’d like to add another milestone on the way to the dissolution of the historical American nation—the establishment of the “Hispanic” category on the 1970 census, under Nixon. It led to the historic American white majority’s being classified as “Non-Hispanic White”—we’re now defined on the basis of our not being “Hispanic.”
Andrew B. writes:
I date its death to somewhere in the period 1992 to 1995.
1992 saw the election of a draft dodging rapist to the office of the Presidency. It saw a supposedly conservative Supreme Court majority reaffirm Roe vs. Wade. And it saw the final humiliation of the leading traditional Democrat, Bob Casey, by his own party.
1993 saw the establishment of homosexuals in the military and the start of the final end of public smoking and permission for teens to smoke. NYPD Blue came on TV with prime time nudity. The World Trade Center bombing brought home the incompetence of internal security against Muslims.
1994 brought us NAFTA and a mass exodus of southern Democrats to the Republicans, and the destruction of Proposition 187 and of the notion that state constitutions and American citizenship actually matter. We got an Assault Weapons ban. 1994 was also as near as I can tell the start of the slut look in female dress, where it became openly acceptable for women and teenage girls to walk around displaying their cleavage. I still remember my shock on first seeing this. I think this was also around the time that black boys started the baggy pants/exposed underwear look. The 1994 election cemented most of the changes that occurred in 1992 in voting patterns for good.
1995 brough the start of school shootings combined with the draconian lock-down policies on high schools across the country, and the end of traditional student freedoms such as the ability to leave campus or chose your own clothing in bring a pocket knife to school.
I mark these years as a huge watershed for the country. In the time before this period, life was still fairly indistinguishable from the 1950s for most communities. By the end of it, everything was radically changed, most especially the culture, and in all ways greatly for the worse.
Andrew B. is very close to my own feelings on this. I’ve always felt that a major change occurred around 1990, that political correctness and multiculturalism became established around that time, and that the culture was altered in some fundamental, horrible way, and that the American culture we had known was gone. Then in 1993, it wasn’t just the arrival of Clinton in the White House, but of his lieutenants, a gang of manifest low-lifes that I was shocked to see in the White House.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 21, 2012 05:31 PM | Send
There was also a definite change in movies and TV at that time, with the onset of dark, chaotic nihilism.