Two Americas: Dunham and Duck Dynasty

After spending days of airtime excoriating Donald Trump for asking why Mrs. Khan didn’t speak at the Democratic Convention, Morning Joe decided to take a breather to interview Hollywood Reporter writer Michael Wolff for his new article, “Michael Wolff on Hillary’s “Self Delusion, “Trump’s S- Show” and the Media’s Final, Frantic 100 Days.”  Wolff’s basic thesis is that the two conventions show that we’re too different countries with almost no middle ground.  He uses the example of two convention stars, Lena Dunham for the Democrats and Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame for the Republicans.  As Wolff writes:

“The Nation divides over many lines, but a basic split is between Lena Dunham, who made a prime time appearance July 26 at the Democratic National Convention, and Willie Robertson, a star of Duck Dynasty and a celebrity endorser at the Republican convention. No longer an actual aspect of political decision-making, party conventions are wholly symbolic affairs, an elaborate messaging apparatus and targeted media platform. In this instance, Dunham represented a cosmopolitan, millennial, pan-sexual, women-focused view, abhorrent to a significant part of the country, and Robertson a nativist, older, gun-associated, military-inclined, white-male-focused view, abhorrent to the Dunham part.”

That’s basically true I think.  If you drew a Venn Diagram of Dunham fans and Robertson fans, the two circles would probably just sit there without even touching.  I’ve had my own fun with Dunham, so just knowing I’m in the non Dunham circle should tell you a lot about me.

Wolff doesn’t sound very optimistic about the two Americas, but the division is not a new invention.  America has over big issues and small, long been a divided country.  What’s different now has been the tendency to nationalize every issue into a one size fits all, top down approach; exactly the opposite of what the founders intended.  I suspect the divide began to take on national consequences with Roe v Wade in 1973.  It may be hard to believe now, but the country was gradually moving towards a pro choice position when the Supreme Court decided to short circuit the democratic process and impose a court written national law that froze the debate in place. So for 40 plus years, the needle has barely wiggled on abortion and it’s still a contentious issue.  And you can add up every single issue that we’ve had either decided for us by the courts or imposed on us at a national level issues that were usually a state and local concern. Now that the federal government is vitally concerned about who goes into what bathroom in North Carolina, and every state in the union, there are effectively no limits to what the national government can decide or impose.  So every issue is a national issue in which at least half the country feels burned on.

There is an easy solution to this of course, good old fashioned constitutional federalism.  Leave the bathrooms, abortions, and gay marriage cakes up to each state, and suddenly we have a lot fewer things to fight about on the national stage. Unfortunately good old fashioned constitutional federalism is as abhorrent to half the country as Duck Dynasty and country music.  So prepare for more squabbling between Dunham and Dynasty.

 

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