It is, at first, baffling how two funerals — those of Sen. John McCain and singer Aretha Franklin — should have been turned into occasions to criticize a sitting U.S. president.
How can it be that the civility and benevolence that formerly governed such solemn proceedings in this country is now gone, to the extent that they have become for a for crass partisanship?
It used to be said that politics was downstream from culture. Now appears that culture is downstream from politics. Partisan politics seems to permeate every part of the national experience — at least as it's reported in the national mainstream media.
The explanation, upon reflection, is that the Trump presidency really does represent a major upheaval in American life, a cultural turning point.
To be more precise, it's something of a Counter Reformation, a reaction to the Cultural Revolution beginning in the 1960s, culminating in the Barack Obama presidency — and Mrs. Clinton’s attempt to succeed Mr. Obama.
That revolution was, among many other things, a movement in protest of the traditional Judeo-Christian values of piety, deference, and custom prominent in our nation since its founding.
In that older ethos, individual desire was less important than community solidarity.
The intact nuclear family was the foundation on which the civic culture rested.
The 1960s, the era of what Counter Culture guru Dr. Timothy Leary summarized as "Turn on, tune in, drop out," was all about doing one’s own thing, about self-actualization.
The guiding mantra of that and the decades following was, essentially, "If it feels good, do it."
The 1960s and the progressivism growing out of it, which progressivism now has taken over the Democratic party, and most of the media, higher education, and Hollywood, is about over-turning the old patriarchy.
It's about reversing the purported effects of prior discrimination against ethnic and racial groups. It's also about constructing a federal leviathan state catering to every whim and need of the population.
The older culture, instead, believed in the importance of local government, in a federal government of limited and enumerated powers, and in a judiciary that — instead of finding new rights in the Constitution — left the making of new law to the legislature and the American people themselves.
That older set of beliefs included the notion that responsibilities were as important as rights, and that the performance of one’s duties to family, nation, and religion, not self-actualization, ought to be the goals of our polity.
This traditional American culture had been declared dead by the Democrats at about the time of the turn of the 20th century, and they (and their Republican allies in the bureaucracy and the media) find themselves unable to understand that not only were they egregiously and self-deludingly wrong, but their arrogance and declared triumph enraged and embittered many Americans.
President Trump became the unlikely tribune of those whom Hillary called the "basket of deplorables." That basketfull swept Donald J. Trump into office.
So painful is the truth, that the "arc of history," as President Obama called it, is now bending back toward tradition, that Democrats and their allies can only express their feelings in unadulterated rage.
This rage will be on display in the hearings this week for President Trump’s second nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh, a highly respected jurist on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has written more than 300 opinions. He has received a rating of "well-qualified" from even the left-leaning American Bar Association (ABA).
Yet, Judge Kavanaugh will be disparaged by the Democrats as the second coming of the maliciously-maligned Robert Bork, as a man who would restrict the rights of women and the downtrodden. Kavanaugh will be, rather, a Justice in the traditional mold, one who believes that the judicial role is a modest one of preserving existing rules, and of leaving innovation to the popular branches.
Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Kavanaugh’s critics purport to be acting in the name of the people, but the real popular champion, and the champion of enduring tradition, is our wrongly beleaguered president.
The Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, the ending of the fabricated fantasy of Trumpian Russian collusion that underlies the Mueller investigation, and, most of all, the upcoming midterm elections should demonstrate to those, not blinded by hatred and rage, what kind of a country we still are, and the permanent and transcendental values this nation has always held dear.
Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, the Legal Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and a contributor to The University Bookman. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and University College, London. He has often testified on constitutional issues before committees of the United States Congress, and is the author of "Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered" (Regnery, 1994) and "Law Professsors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law" (West Academic, 2017). Presser was recently appointed as a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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