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Bishop also has some blind spots. He emphasizes the collective consequences of migration decisions by Americans. The subtitle of the book passes a harsh judgment on those choices: “Why the Clustering of Like-minded American Is Tearing Us Apart.”
But these decisions about where to live are choices made by adults, choices that are fundamental to their conception of what makes for a good life. The United States promises the pursuit of happiness, not the pursuit of happiness unless it makes us too polarized.
The book also worries too much about the political consequences of the Big Sort. Americans are coming to live in small tribes, Bishop argues, where cultural and political differences are not encouraged.
Living with the like-minded is perhaps a matter of some regret. But living with the enemy also has its problems. Who is to say that moving to a place bounded by a horizon does not make more sense for a family and the nation? The alternative might be greater conflict locally.
THE BIG SORT has some vital lessons for the presidential candidates. McCain speaks of “our nation” as if we were a family while Obama says there is only a United States rather than red and blue states. On the evidence in this book, both candidates are wrong.
The nation is deeply divided culturally and politically. The geographical separation reflects the cultural divisions that have informed politics for many years. People do not enjoy living near people who despise their deepest commitments. They move away from them. The nation becomes less united.
That change has advantages and disadvantages. The advantages? Greater division means the nation lacks the unity necessary to go on great collective crusades. We simply don’t agree about the goals for such a crusade.
A genuine enemy might enable McCain to unite a disparate nation, but few now believe radical Muslims represent a mortal danger. Once Obama stops talking about “a common purpose” and starts governing, he will discover concretely how little Americans have in common.
The nation does need a leader that understands and accepts that Americans need some geographical, political, and cultural distance from one another. America needs, in other words, a president who knows We do not exist.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?