My latest is up at PJ Media and in it, I riff off comments made by Rep. John Boehner about the Democrats “snuffing out” the America of his youth:
And yet, this isn’t really what Boehner was talking about when he wondered aloud about where the America of his youth had gone. For liberals like Tomasky, it is very difficult to grasp the inexpressible sadness in Boehner’s words. The congressman is not referring to the grand plans of statesmen and social engineers, or the yardsticks of social progress that so enamor the left. Boehner was referring to a state of mind about America that is disappearing.
What else is America except a place that has lived in the dreams of men since we organized ourselves into nation-states? Each of us alone defines our own America, imbuing it with our own hopes, animating it with our own definitions of liberty, consecrating it by our embrace of its traditions and values. It is this feeling about America that Boehner believes is threatened. But is he right? Is his implication that the growth of government under the current administration — the largest expansion in history — can destroy what we “grew up with” as a vision of America in our minds?
There are other things we grew up with in America — those of us of Boehner’s age and a little younger — and not all of them bring pleasant memories to the surface. In fact, a significant number of them we wanted “snuffed out.” Certainly, the casual kind of racism and intolerance that was not unfamiliar in the America of my own youth should have been snuffed out. The second-class citizenship accorded women (cemented in both tradition and the law) needed to be left behind, as did attitudes toward gays, the handicapped, the mentally ill, and others in society who lived on the margins, largely invisible to the majority of us, and who suffered in silence until their concerns were given voice a decade or two later.
I know what Boehner is saying about the kind of America he grew up in and there is certainly much of that America that needs to be protected and cared for. Boehner’s America of strong communities, strong families, an expansive view of personal liberty, and a government that had yet to flex its muscles in an effort to control us is worth preserving. It is worthwhile to save as much of that America as can be accomplished without rolling back the genuine progress we have made in other areas of our national social life.