An interesting little column to understand the liberal view of the world. Things were OK through the '60s, then there was "the rise of the right" and everything has been sketchy ever since.
One could take an alternate view that America was generally dealing with history and it's own problems in an imperfect but "American" way until say the Wilsonian version of "progressivism". It lurched hard left in the '30s, partially corrected itself in the '50s, then lurched hard left again in the '60s ... the '70s were indeed a time of "what do we do now, who are we"? Reagan gave us a brief reprieve that mostly lasted up to '06 and since then we have lurched hard left again -- back to at least the '70s, and really worse.
But that isn't how the left sees it ... there is some sort of "cosmic progress" ordered in the same way as the inevitability of communism as per Marx that inherently moves nations to more and more centralized statist control -- and that is good (from their POV). Both inevitable and good -- except for evil. Conservatives -- the past is inherently bad, the future is inevitably good -- with the exception of those horrid "divisive" conservative voices. Eventually, they always have to be silenced.
In other ways, though, the conservative agenda of Goldwater, Nixon, and Reagan never took. If we see the seventies not as an apocalyptic war between two Americas but as a time of profound uncertainty, in which conflict and contradiction were found just as often within as between Americans, it’s possible to imagine the country, at the end of the decade, turning for inspiration to a vision quite different from Reagan’s brand of denial. His vision was the one on offer—but a majority of the country didn’t vote for the destruction of blue-collar America in 1980, or the creation of a new plutocracy, or the rigging of legislation in favor of organized money. Most Americans still want their social programs kept intact, dislike being told how to conduct their private lives, and don’t want their country to go looking for foreign dragons to slay. What Perlstein calls the “cult of official optimism,” founded by Reagan, requires our leaders, including Barack Obama, to genuflect ritually before America the innocent. That rhetoric has grown extremely thin, however—not many Americans these days are optimistic. Reagan won, but the seventies never ended.Somehow they seem to have figured out that we have returned to the 1970's -- but their view is that it is this "divide" that is the issue. Politics is the ultimate force in the "progressive" brain -- only possibly inferior to the mysterious universal force driving all nations inevitably to centralized ultimate control of which the left is certain is completely benign -- pay no attention to the 100's of millions murdered by Fascism and Communism in the 20th century. The mysterious force will get it right this time ... if only the voices of conservatives can be silenced.
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