Optimistic or Pessimistic About America?

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Commentary Magazine asked 41 Americans to respond to this question: “Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America’s future?” The responses, including my own, appear in the current issue of Commentary. As we were limited to 500 words, I offer my response here, in edited and longer form.

I am both optimistic and pessimistic regarding America’s future.

Here are my reasons for pessimism:

First, the unique American values system — what I call the American Trinity — is under assault. These three values are declared on every American coin: Liberty, “E Pluribus Unum” and “In God We Trust.”

The left has declared war on all three. And it is winning. It seeks to replace Liberty with egalitarianism, “E Pluribus Unum” with multiculturalism, and “In God We Trust” with a godless society. America is being transformed — candidate Barack Obama’s favorite word for what he sought to do to this country — into a Western European country, the left’s model of a great society.

Second, the primary purpose of high schools and colleges — and, increasingly, even elementary schools — has become turning students into leftists.

That’s one reason many of those who graduate from America’s schools know what the climate will be in 2080 but don’t know who Stalin was, let alone who Cain and Abel were. They are proficient at using condoms and at recycling but at little else. They have been taught nothing of American exceptionalism and would likely find the term incomprehensible, if not objectionable. And they would save their dog before a human they didn’t know because morality is a matter of feelings, and they feel more for their dog.

Third, the expansion of the state is producing a new American. This American believes in rights more than in obligations and thinks that the state should take care of him, his parents, his children and his neighbors.

Fourth, the melting pot of Americans has been replaced by a patchwork quilt of “Latinos,” “African-Americans” and other identity groups, all of whom, moreover, are taught to consider themselves victims of a sexist, racist, intolerant, Islamophobic and xenophobic society.

Fifth, half or more of the Jews and Christians who attend synagogue or church are more likely to be led by a priest, minister or rabbi who sermonizes not about their sins but about America’s.

Sixth, civilization’s single most important institution — marriage — is increasingly regarded as pointless and is being redefined for the first time in history to include members of the same sex. Why? Because the notions that marriage is sacred and that men and women are intrinsically different — a difference that carries unique significance — are depicted as patriarchal, anachronistic and sexist.

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  • Susan S

    I wonder if the fact that "America as the world’s preeminent economic, political and military power" has anything to do with our founding documents? The Constitution being one of those documents is in jeopardy of becoming irrelevant. If we are going to ignore the part about being a Natural Born Citizen, meaning both parents must be Americans, which part are we going to ignore next? Perhaps the 2nd Amendment, or that pesky one about free speech. When Americans see the corrupt Goldman Sachs crowd being bailed out to the tune of billions and we are loosing our homes, when we can go to jail for a small infraction (just look up how many Americans are in prison for drug "crimes" of a personal use nature – the prison industrial complex is a powerful force) and the President can present to the American people a fraudulent birth certificate and everyone turns a blind eye. We must ask is there a rule of law based on the Constitution or is the whole game rigged? I agree the left will turn this country into a socialist hell hole if allowed. But on this issue of ignoring the Constitution when it comes to the man in the White House most conservatives are equally guilty. I would actually say more guilty. Whenever I have brought up this subject with those who are not so political they often comment that is there really was an issue surely the Republicans / Conservatives would make an big deal out of it. But they don't they are silent and I must say Mr. Prager it is something you are sweeping under the rug as well. God forbid someone should be called a birther. Before someone runs against this man should he not have to answer at least to the apparent fact that he has presented the nation a fraudulent document? Is this asking too much?

  • http://www.resonoelusono.com/NaturalBornCitizen.htm Alexander Gofen

    In the pessimistic list Mr. Prager missed the global advance of islam, unprecedentedly empowered by trillions of oil money (the empowering being in progress every second).

    As to seeking reasons for an optimism in a depth of such an overwhelming decline like America is now: How can it be curable just by election of one high position executive from the same rotten deck of cards and ersatz-parties?! (The very "parties" responsible for this decline). How can it cure 100 years of neglect to the leftists infection consuming America? How can it wish away the entire system of school and universities rotten beyond repair?

    Unfortunately, not only "the case AGAINST leftism" and FOR America is not voiced out by anybody. Every item of the case for America became a taboo:


    And until at least this taboo is broken, we have no reasons for optimism.

  • Ghostwriter

    Optimistic or pessimistic about America? I don't know. I'm not sure.