Despite Walmart and Starbucks divided we stand. By Colin Woodard [View all]
Despite Walmart and Starbucks divided we stand
Regionalism explains a lot about disagreements in U.S. politics and policies.
By COLIN WOODARD McClatchy Newspapers
In U.S. presidential campaigns, you can expect to hear a lot about the Founding Fathers, and how their ideals, intents and spiritual beliefs are allegedly in sync with those of whichever candidate is speaking of them at the time. In contentious times like ours, the Founders are regularly summoned from their graves to provide direction. If we could only recognize and embrace their instructions, the candidates argue, then we could find our lost sense of common purpose, restore our civic virtue, and finally return the Union to unity.
But these arguments are frustrated by the simple fact that the men who came together to confront a common enemy in 1775 and to craft an enduring alliance in 1789 were not our country's founders, but rather the founders' great- or great-great-, or great-great-great-great-grandchildren.
The real founders -- early-17th-century Puritans and Dutch West India Company officials, mid-17th-century English aristocrats, late-17th-century West Indian slave lords and English Quakers, early-18th-century frontiersmen from Ulster and the lowlands of Scotland, and so on -- didn't create an America; they created several Americas.
Some of these American societies championed individualism, others utopian social reform. Some believed themselves guided by divine purpose, others by freedom of conscience and inquiry. Some embraced an Anglo-Protestant identity, others ethnic and religious pluralism. Some valued equality and democratic participation, others deference to a traditional aristocratic order modeled on the slave states of classical antiquity.
Our government... teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. Louis D. Brandeis