One of the stranger things about our public discourse the last couple of decades is the constant call for unity. The black hats on the political stage are always described as divisive or polarizing. The white hats are the “uniters”, bringing people together. Whenever something happens, like a disaster or shooting, the news is full of stories about how the community is united in response. Usually this means some sort of ceremony with candles and the local leaders officiating a ritual intended to show unity.
Of course, the fetish for unity is a Progressive thing. Often it takes comical turns, like when public opinion is running hard against some Progressive cause. Then the public is described as “divided over the issue.” A suitable bad guy is found and scorn is heaped on him by the media for his divisiveness. On the other hand, when opinion is slightly in favor of the Progressives, then we hear that the public is nearly unanimous in their support. This is followed by calls of unity, which means the opposition should surrender.
The classic example of this was homosexual marriage. State after state held referendums on the issue. for 30 some odds times the public voted against it. After every defeat, the media reported that a divided electorate narrowly opposed gay marriage. Then the one time it passes, a deluge of press claiming a tidal wave of support in favor of homosexual marriage. It was so convincing, the Supreme Court decided that voting was too much a bother and unilaterally declared gay marriage a sacrament.
Unity was not always a fetish for our rulers. In my youth, I had to sit and listen to civics lectures from Boomer instructors about the glories of raucous democracy. The whole point of democracy was for the people to have a civilized argument in order to gain a majority around a position. The change seems to have happened in the Clinton years. Anyone who opposed the Clintons was accused of dividing the public. As is true of so many of the problems in the current crisis, the roots of this unity fetish are in the Ozarks.
On the other hand, maybe this berserk desire for unanimity of public opinion on every matter is a sign of something else. The outbreak does coincide with the end of the Cold War. The very real risk of nuclear annihilation kept the American political class under control and it justified doing what was necessary to keep a lid on public dissent. Of course, the public was more than willing to enforce a high degree of conformity, in order to avoid giving the Russians an edge. The Cold War was a unifying and stabilizing force.
Before the Cold War, there was the Second World War. The Great Depression was probably the last time when conditions were ripe for disunity. When the ruling class is unable to keep the people fed, the people are willing to entertain new rulers. On the other hand, it offered the Yankee ruling elite an opportunity to purge the ruling class of heretics and dissenters. The days of guys like Calvin Coolidge getting far in politics were brought to an end with the New Deal and the political realignment ushered in by Roosevelt.
In reality, the last time our ruling class did not have some exogenous thing to justify imposing a high degree of unanimity on the public, and on the ruling class, was the late 19th century. That was after the Civil War, so there was no need for unity. The North had conquered the rest of the country. The South was obliterated economically and culturally, so they were no threat. Appalachia was always too disorganized to be a threat to the Yankee establishment. Unity was the default situation.
The point of all this is that it has been a long time since America has not had something that was useful for rallying public support. The holy war against the Muslims should have been an easy replacement for the Cold War, but our rulers are so infected by the PC virus they could not declare the crusade. Instead they lost two pointless wars of choice and invited millions of Muslims to settle in our lands. The promised clash of civilization has instead become a clash between the Dirt People and the Cloud People over Islam.
That may be the reason our betters are forever going on about the need for unity. These weird rituals after ever terrorist attack are intended to summon the magic spirits that will restore the unifying order of old. The candlelight vigil after every shooting or riot suggests that the deep state actors behind these things are the candle makers. Every Progressive in America spends the following day passing around pics on social media, of people “uniting” to fight the latest outrage, almost always at a candlelight vigil.
There’s also the fact that all mass movements need a devil. The Cult of Modern Liberalism is no exception. It’s why John McCain built his career around the pitch of a “cause greater than ourselves.” His great cause over the last several decades was the nutty idea of spreading western liberal democracy to the Muslim world. Other Progressives have gone all in on stamping out biological reality. The ghost of Hitler and Bull Connor, of course, are always handy bogeymen for our Progressive rulers.
America was never intended to be united culturally or spiritually. The Founders understood that the original colonies had different characteristics, due to the different founding populations. It’s why they maintained the sovereignty of the states in the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. America was supposed to be a collection of states and cultures, that cooperated economically and for common defense, but otherwise existed independent of one another. It’s why they wanted a weak national government.
What we may be seeing is the end of the long historical cycle that began in the 19th century, with the Hartford convention, and ended with the Cold War. The 19th century saw the northern states rise economically and culturally, to eventually dominate the rest of the nation. Events in Europe provided handy enemies against which to rally the public and beat back any challenges to Yankee hegemony. We have run out of plausible bogeymen with which to scare the public. As a result, America is returning to its nature.
This could be the the root cause of the endless calls for unity. The pleas for unity are, in effect, demands to maintain the status quo. Along side the endless laments from the media about the decline of old media and the rise of alternatives, you have a ruling establishment in a long twilight struggle to maintain its status and power. Perhaps in the fullness of time, the Yankee domination of America will be seen as a long cultural cycle, with its own civic religion, national epic and origin myth.