John Edwards used to talk about “two Americas,” before he became a national disgrace in both of them. Barack Obama, speaking the same year, said nuts to that.
Obama rejected “the pundits” who “like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states: red states for Republicans, blue states for Democrats.”
Earlier in that speech, Obama asserted, “[T]here’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.”
It’s been a long, strange trip from “We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes” to “I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America.”
As Tina Turner memorably asked, “What’s love got to do with it?”
You can’t be a Republican candidate for dog catcher without saying whether you agree with Rudy Giuliani’s comments about Obama. Or for that matter, confirming whether Obama agrees with the Nicene Creed.
Maybe there is a liberal America and a conservative America after all.
In liberal America, Giuliani’s musings are the worst thing to have happened since McCarthyism, which itself was the worst thing to happen during the Cold War.
But in conservative America, what Giuliani was saying was seen as no worse than Kanye West’s contention that George W. Bush doesn’t care about black people. According to one poll, 62 percent of Republicans said they agreed with Giuliani.
It’s more than the pundits slicing and dicing us into red and blue states.
Then there was the reporter who appeared to mock Scott Walker’s claims about prayer. Taegan Goddard linked to a statement saying that there were no transcripts of Walker communicating with the Almighty.
Perhaps Goddard was being a jerk. That would certainly complicate the prevailing media narrative. “How dare you question President Obama’s faith in Scott Walker’s imaginary friend!”
But it looked like he genuinely lacked any awareness that Walker’s practice and terminology are familiar to millions of Americans, people who ostensibly live in the same country as Goddard.
Yes, they worship an awesome God in the blue states, as Obama said. But they’re a bit less likely to do so than in the red states. White liberals are becoming more secular and cosmopolitan.
The political parties aren’t perfectly divided along faith lines. Black people are the most Democratic voting bloc in America and perhaps also the most devout.
But in the election that followed Obama’s tribute to blue state awesome God worship, liberals circulated a popular meme showing the Democratic blue states as “the United States of Canada” (notice the racist exclusion of Mexico) and the Bush-voting red states as “Jesusland.”
So much for “one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes.”
This tendency runs in the other direction too. A significant amount of Sarah Palin and “Duck Dynasty” fandom is just a way of flipping latte-sipping, hybrid-driving liberals the bird.
Tip O’Neill used to say all politics are local. Now all politics are identity politics.
Liberal and conservative America increasingly don’t know each other, don’t trust each other, don’t like each other and are only familiar with the most grotesque caricatures of the other’s beliefs.
Some in liberal America believe gun-toting, ground-standing conservative America wants to kill them. Some in conservative America feel liberal America doesn’t want to protect them from terrorism, at least not without first rehearsing Western sins from the Crusades to Jim Crow.
Obama did not create this division, though his presidency has exacerbated it. He was as ideologically and temperamentally unsuited to be liberal America’s ambassador to red America as Palin would have been to fulfill the opposite role, even if he delivered the lines better.
A person whose only election loss was in a Democratic primary to a former Black Panther running to his left was not going to be in a good position to negotiate with a Republican Congress, much less transcend the politics of cynicism. Especially while viewing cynicism as being synonymous with disagreement.
Since Obama became president, he has been wrong about many things. Maybe he was wrong in the main argument of the biggest speech of his career before his presidency.
It would be better if he was right.
W. James Antle III is managing editor of The Daily Caller and author of the book Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? Follow him on Twitter.