USA: For the Left, It’s All about the Hyphens

Written by Wes Walker on July 4, 2014

How simple is it to show the ideological differences between Liberals and Conservatives?

It’s as simple as the difference in their reaction to “E Pluribus Unum”.

This phrase — used to describe the forging of the States into a single nation, but later taken to mean forging one nation out of many peoples — puts the United States in a different position than most, if not all, other nations.  

This little phrase also, I would think, holds a big part of the key to answering any question about how this unmapped upstart colony could — in just a few short centuries — become a unipolar Superpower in such diverse areas as commerce, politics, science, media, military and all the rest.

You are not the only nation in the West to welcome people from foreign shores to come for a better life. Australia and Canada are just two countries doing the same. And, in many ways, we are all better for it. But there is a difference in coming to, say, Canada, than there is to the United States.

When people come to Canada — where I’m from — they might come for opportunity, family, education, our “social safety net”, or to flee war. But when people come to Canada, it’s to receive what we have to offer. They might ADD being Canadian to what they have, and what they are, but there is no pressure to become anything different than they were.

The Canadian emphasis on being a “mosaic” rather than a “melting pot” has left the particulars about what it truly means to be “Canadian” unclear. So unclear, in fact, that when asked about what it means to be Canadian, radio audiences usually begin by saying something like “well… we’re NOT American…”

But USA is — was? — something different entirely.  Coming to America meant more than just “arriving” in America. In a nation positively humming with identity and national pride, there was no doubt about what becoming American meant.  The emphasis is on “becoming”. There was a change of who you are, and where your loyalties lie. What language is spoken, and even your celebrations would undergo changes.

These new celebrations would introduce you to Independence Day — and, as a result, to the ideas and values that forged 13 colonies into one nation. They would introduce you to Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day, which hold in honor the sacrifices of those who defend such freedoms as Americans hold sacred. They would introduce you to the Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and his precious Dream that we be measured by our character, rather than superficial, color-based distinctions of us-and-them. They would introduce Thanksgiving, a time where we do (or did) look with gratitude to the Source of all our blessings.

They would come, knowing that hard work can be rewarded, that chances can be taken, and that capital can be risked, in the hope of a better life.

In coming to America, they brought their stories, their customs, their songs. They brought the hopes they had for their children. They brought their best effort.

They heard stories about the American Dream, and they wanted to be part of it. And being part of that required being — really BEING — American themselves. Many learned a new language, many voted freely for the first time ever.

Freely, and without coercion, they became Americans. As a result: America thrived. It grew, and it drew strength from that diversity, from that energy, and from that hope.

And this is where the difference between Conservatives and Liberals takes shape:

For Conservatives — (as the word had been used until recently) — “becoming American” was enough. If you can love this country, it’s story, it’s freedoms. If you obey the law, work hard, and help to build a community with your neighbors, the hyphens don’t matter. To Conservatives, someone like this is not a (something)-American. — No. — You are simply: An American. A full participant in the American experience, and in its story.

Liberals, on the other hand, react differently. They don’t see some celebrations the way Conservatives do. They tend to focus more on the failings (both real and imagined) of the American Experiment. Old traditions are continually challenged and overturned by this group, so joy or pride in their country is often absent.

Where Conservatives are happy to see “out of many, one”, the Liberals reverse that to say “out of one, many”.

They don’t see “mere Americans”.  Instead, they break people down into demographic special-interest groups, voting blocks, and aggrieved parties whose energies can be harnessed (for the right price) to perpetuate Liberals’ own power and prestige.

What’s the most fearful thing that a Liberal could face in America today? The death of the hyphen.  

If people actually embraced those “I Have A Dream” values — REALLY embraced them — the Liberals would immediately lose all political leverage. It wouldn’t be women vs men. Minority vs. establishment. Immigrant vs. native-born. Workers vs. management. It would no longer be any other conceivable this-vs-that scenario. Because if that hyphen ever dies, those petty grievances die with it.

And so I close with the kind of song your great nation sings when it sees itself as simply “American”. When you finally get past your hyphens, and you look at your country, and rejoice in that synergy, you sing songs that reflect it. I close with a link to my favo(u)rite version of The Star Spangled Banner, by Madison Rising.

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