The New American Divide

The ideal of an ‘American way of life’ is fading as the working class falls further away from institutions like marriage and religion and the upper class becomes more isolated. Charles Murray on what’s cleaving America, and why.

Charles Murray
The Wall Street Journal
1/21/2012

America is coming apart. For most of our nation’s history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world—for whites, anyway. “The more opulent citizens take great care not to stand aloof from the people,” wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, the great chronicler of American democracy, in the 1830s. “On the contrary, they constantly keep on easy terms with the lower classes: They listen to them, they speak to them every day.”

Americans love to see themselves this way. But there’s a problem: It’s not true anymore, and it has been progressively less true since the 1960s.

People are starting to notice the great divide. The tea party sees the aloofness in a political elite that thinks it knows best and orders the rest of America to fall in line. The Occupy movement sees it in an economic elite that lives in mansions and flies on private jets. Each is right about an aspect of the problem, but that problem is more pervasive than either political or economic inequality. What we now face is a problem of cultural inequality.

When Americans used to brag about “the American way of life”—a phrase still in common use in 1960—they were talking about a civic culture that swept an extremely large proportion of Americans of all classes into its embrace. It was a culture encompassing shared experiences of daily life and shared assumptions about central American values involving marriage, honesty, hard work and religiosity.

Over the past 50 years, that common civic culture has unraveled…

… If enough Americans look unblinkingly at the nature of the problem, they’ll fix it. One family at a time…

The complete article is at The Wall Street Journal.

Related: Afterburner with Bill Whittle: The Working Class

In this week’s Afterburner, Bill Whittle takes on the liberal agenda by addressing the underlying assumptions of Juan Williams when he asked Newt Gingrich this question:

“You recently said black Americans should demand jobs, not food stamps. You also said poor kids lack a strong work ethic and proposed having them work as janitors in their schools. Can’t you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?”

For a primer on how to respond to race-baiting, watch this Afterburner…

Also, There are 30,000 job vacancies in London but young Brits don’t have the right work ethic, says London Mayor Boris Johnson: ‘Get to work’

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