Why “toxic partisanship” can’t be detoxified

A prominent article in the “Review” section this past weekend in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye. Amanda Ripley of the “Emerson Collective” wrote under the headline, “America, Meet America.” The subhead read, “How can we get past today’s toxic partisanship and political segregation?” I could end this commentary right here by stating—we can’t. But allow me to elaborate.

Ms. Ripley is a senior fellow at the Emerson Collective and an author. Scanning the EC website I note that this is another “social justice” group. Apparently they follow the thinking recorded by that Yankee preacher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, essayist and poet. Emerson was maybe best known for his promotion of Individualism; rather incongruous, it seems to me, with the concept of collectivism. Collectivists have no use for individuals. But I’ll leave expounding on that for another time, although that “toxic” relationship is related to this subject: our commonality, or lack thereof.

Regardless propaganda from multiculturalists, we’re-all-immigrants, and assorted anti-American groups tearing down the history of this country, it was founded by people from the British Isles educated in Western Civilization; Christianity was their religion and English their native language. That’s where we started. But, of course, that was hundreds of years ago. Over the decades the country has expanded into an empire and devolved into tribal groups—now too big and diverse to be considered a unique culture with common values that everyone accepts.

Even when my ancestors seceded from the English King’s oppressive government, many Americans didn’t want to break the connections with their culture; they escaped back to Britain or fought as “Loyalists” against the “Patriots.” The cultural ties that bind are powerfully strong.

Ms. Ripley suggests, “We Americans have a new enemy, and it is ourselves.” She writes that researchers find that for thousands of us “partisan animosity can now exceed racial hostility.”

I take issue with the mantra that every conflict in America is related to race. Our conflicts are related to cultural differences not race. Race is a red-herring to cover the failures of promoting multiculturalism and the damage it has done to our society. The most stable countries in the world are those of a single culture with shared language, religion and other values. I believe that our partisan animosity has been caused by cultural hostility.

During the past decade we have seen accelerated hostilities because of cultural contentions. Many of us with traditional American values have rejected the Marxian, pro-Islamic, anti-American views and policies of the previous federal administration.

During the 2016 presidential campaign the leading Democrat candidate called us “deplorable” because we believe in armed self-defense, law and order, traditional marriage, Christianity and protecting our borders against illegal invasions. Her followers cheered her and jeered at us.

We saw our candidate of choice for president treated unfairly by the media; protested at peaceful rallies by violent, nasty tempered disrupters; and he and his family constantly demeaned and harassed by activists on the Left.

There is no “coming together” with hostile and vindictive people who believe you are an enemy. Some of them have even carried out murderous attacks on our representatives simply because they affiliate with a political party. In urban area they have assassinated many of our police, looted stores and burned buildings. Large numbers of left-leaning people in America have mental problems.

How can we reconcile with irrational opponents with violent tendencies? What do normal American citizens have “in common” with these people?

Ms. Ripley naively suggests “cultural exchange programs” on the theory that if we “really knew each other” we would be more tolerant. But we do know people by listening to what they say and observing their actions. We know what they believe and what policies they support by observing their political representatives—and we don’t like what we see.

It’s too late to change our cultural views. Generations of children have been indoctrinated with disdain for our history in government schools by anti-Americans. Marxists and totalitarians have taken over our liberal arts universities. Our courts are dominated by subversive judges who attack our traditions and history, and ignore the Constitution. Democrat politicians publicly stir hatred and fear claiming that “millions will die” because of Republican policies.

We cannot overcome this by staying in other people’s homes, sharing meals and stories together, as Ms. Ripley suggests.

She writes: “The country has been weakened by our mutual disdain and shared ignorance”; and admits the reason…“we share very few cultural traditions.”

Ripley and many others in our population don’t seem to understand the irreparable damage done to our society. By undermining our traditional values the people responsible have created chaos, instability and confusion about who we are. In my opinion, toxic “social justice” projects have set us on a course of perpetual conflict and cultural chaos.

Subversive activism against our culture includes “Toxic Identity Politics” by the Left in America. Newt Gingrich uses this title in Chapter Six of his book, “Understanding Trump.” Gingrich observes a truism that applies to many of us who grew up with traditional American values: “Candidate Trump had consistently underestimated the depth of genuine hostility from the Left.”

Their visceral hatred of us is stunning and impossible to comprehend.


Gingrich writes:

(The) Left opposes assimilation and instead aspires for a country in which all subgroups of Americans (and non-Americans) –defined by their race, nationality, religion, sexuality, and so forth—never shed their differences to become one people. It is a recipe for the balkanization of America—for conflict, not unity.

Over the last twenty years, the Left has shifted from being antisegregation and prointegration to championing new desire for racial identity and the new segregation.

(President Obama) pursued what I described in an earlier book as a “secular-socialist” agenda that alienated key segments of the people who had voted for him in 2008.

The Left, and the Democratic Party apparatus that is its vehicle, decided a permanent Democratic majority could be built mainly on the strength of blacks, Hispanics, college-education women, sexual identity politics, and young liberal voters….

This “core coalition” turned out not to be a massive voting bloc of minority voters. It was ‘an alliance between black voters and Northern white voters.’

Rather than finding unifying fights that attracted broad-based support based on mutual self-interest and common values, the Left obsessed over race and gender issues. The Democrats embraced Black Lives Matter, put gay marriage and transgender issues front and center, and painted those who disagreed with them as haters.

Finally, and most destructively, Democrats adopted a conscious strategy of delegitimizing the concerns of Americans who rejected Obamacare and other policies of the Obama administration as evidence of racism against a black president.


  Mr. Gingrich explains a faulty theory “behind the Left’s attempt at coalition building through identity liberalism.” It’s called ‘intersectionality’—the idea comes from the concept of “white privilege.” This theory “builds coalitions by getting different minority groups to recognize that their griefs all have common, intersecting causes. In practice, it breeds division and resentment among the coalition it is trying to build… Intersectionality replaces the call to recognize our shared humanity and the common goal of equal rights with a compulsion to divide us into smaller and smaller groups.”

All this factional activism, and much more, results in contaminating the once American “melting pot”—a toxic and coagulating societal brew for which there is no antidote.


About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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