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President Obama's Civilian Soldiers Liberals Forced to Bare Their Teeth

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Let's Stop Obama-ing Apart

by Christopher Chantrill
February 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm


JUST A QUICK word here to Mitt Romney. Would you please take a week out from campaigning and get together with your messaging people and all read Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 together? The book contains just about everything you need to communicate a practical conservative vision to America and beat the pants off Barack Obama.

And Coming Apart shows, if anything can, how Barack Obama is a poster boy for everything that’s wrong with America, everything that is Obaming it apart.

About a century ago and more, the educated elite decided that America needed to be governed by people like them: clever, educated, creative, and expert. Progressives, they called themselves. But the rest of America wasn’t so smart, so it needed to be supervised by this educated elite. The result, a century later, is that life is great for the educated top 20 percent, liberal and conservative--living ordered, fulfilling lives in SuperZip enclaves--while life for the bottom 30 percent is falling apart.

Why? Well it couldn’t possibly be that when people don’t have to work, don’t get married, don’t engage in civic groups, and don’t attend church they end up miserable, could it? Of course not, not when liberals are running things in accordance with the strict principles of progressive politics. What could go wrong?

Everything. There are four things wrong in the lower class enclaves of America, according to Charles Murray. No work, as men hang around sleeping and watching TV. No marriage, as women give up on the arduous task of civilizing lower-class men and take easy money from the state. There’s no civic engagement, as people bowl alone. And there’s a collapse of religion.

The core of Murray’s book is that if you want to be happy, in the full sense of “eudaimonia” in Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics: that is, full human flourishing over a lifetime doing the right things in the right way at the right time, you need to check in on four basic qualities. You need satisfying work; you need to be married; you need to engage in civil society; you need to attend church once a week. Look at a community without the Big Four and you will likely find only 10 percent of people “very happy.” Look at folks with all four and you will find almost 80 percent of people reporting themselves “very happy.” Call it the American project: family, vocation, faith, and community. Rush Limbaugh talks about it every day: American exceptionalism. Here is Murray’s line on it, from page 305 of Coming Apart.

Historically, Americans have been different as a people, even peculiar, and everyone around the world has recognized it. I am thinking of qualities such as American industriousness and neighborliness discussed in earlier chapters, but also American optimism... our striking lack of class envy, and the assumption by most Americans that they are in control of their own destinies.

Upper class Americans live that way. They work, they get married, they are involved in their communities. They just don’t seem to think it matters if other people don’t, so they have legislated this monster welfare state that pays people not to work, not to marry, and harasses them if they join a club or run a church. Our elitists insist on lives with meaning for themselves, but for everyone else they think life begins and ends with a check: welfare check, an unemployment check, a severance check, or a Social Security check. And they call that compassion.

So how do we change it? Murray thinks that America’s upper class is too powerful to be toppled. It must be persuaded to change.

What it comes down to is that America’s new upper class must once again fall in love with what makes America different. The drift away from those qualities... is going to be stopped only when we are all talking again about why America is exceptional and why it is so important that America remains exceptional.

Fall in love with America? In your dreams. The reason that the educated elite has moved apart from the rest of America is that it thinks it is too good to rub elbows with the bitter clingers. It makes a point of disliking the ordinary habits of the middle class: McDonalds, Wal-Mart, trucks, guns, cars, and suburbia. That’s why NPR’s This American Life is curiously detached from real American life, and A Prairie Home Companion actually sneers at it.

Somehow I don’t think that gentle persuasion will persuade the cognitive elite to change the system that has been so good to them. Read the first New York Times reader comments on Coming Apart. In politics, gentle persuasion often doesn’t work too well. We will have to use the other kind of persuasion: Nice little liberal enclave you got there, mister. Real shame if anything should happen to it.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust

Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy

Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006

China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing

Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity

US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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