The Latin phrase E Pluribus Unum is found in the original records of the Continental Congress, June 20, 1782, where it was used by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson to describe the Great Seal adopted that day. From the Great Seal’s earliest depiction, E Pluribus Unum has appeared on all coins since 1795 and has graced the back of dollar bills since 1935.
In just a few decades the United States of America, breaking that Seal, has gone from the Enlightenment to the Darkening. It only took 10 American generations is a useful phrase worth remembering.
Benjamin Franklin noted a semicircular sun on the back of President Washington’s chair at the Constitutional Convention—a sun that could be either setting or rising, depending on one’s disposition as a pessimist or optimist about the future of the 13 colonies. America, for all intents and purposes, is almost gone. As she slips away, we need to ask why, and can she still recover? Franklin fatefully concluded, at the end of the convention, that the United States was indeed on the rise. Is that still the case today?
Putting some steel in the irony, E Pluribus Unum, as adopted in 1782, meant the uniting of states in a federal entity. The general understanding later became the uniting of disparate peoples via the proverbial “melting pot.”
As President Theodore Roosevelt worded it, there was no room for “hyphenated Americans” who sought to take America’s sunshine for another land. Now this motto is the cover story for its complete polar opposite, i.e., separation and division through “identity politics” and mandated “diversity cum segregation.” What happened?
Here is the argument in a nutshell: Martin Luther King, Jr., undoubtedly a golden ray of light for our still-rising nation, preached and applied the values of the Enlightenment and the American majority to bring the many (“pluribus”) to the mountaintop that he perceived and clarified as being their highest expression. It was not only a “dream” but a collectively lived experience birthed in liberty, won at Gettysburg and reclaimed twice on the battlefields of Europe against fascism and Communism and in the civil rights movement. Somehow we have since descended to the abyss of the Fill-in-The-Blank Lives Matter movement.
Why is America seemingly so lost? Can it be that the high noon of our great nation is already past?
One cannot ignore the forbearances and euphemisms surrounding affirmative action, or our acceptance of decayed urban culture as the spin on political underperformance—to say nothing of purely reprehensible behavior. But the real catalyst toward decline was not primarily race-related.
Consider the written word: our uncritical acceptance of punctuation- and grammar-free mobile communications has eroded and eventually imploded all restraint on exaggeration; all standards once expected from factual reporting and decorous commentary. Journalism ceased to exist years ago, and the cable news liars are but loud screams from horror movies—shouting nothing but regurgitated lies. Polling, once held up as factual, is now reliably indistinguishable from other forms of campaign propaganda.
The fundamental right to speak freely and vote in fair and honest elections has given way to managed democracy, American-style, where the voters and the votes need no longer bear mathematical relation to each other.
Similar backsliding over longer periods can be seen, in deviations from the framers’ understandings of the reserved and enumerated powers and in the question of honest money, another institution declining rapidly. Generally accepted social rules have also suffered: defecating in public is no longer taboo according to the Californian social contract, for example. Virtually all aspects of civic and community life have thus degraded. We now live in an increasingly dangerous, uncivil jungle where there is less and less value placed on life, liberty or happiness, in favor of pure licentiousness.
Now cometh a belated, actively suppressed but increasingly inescapable recognition, that yesteryear’s standards were not optional niceties but bulwarks against cultural suicide. Is it the browning of the white majority that we should lament? No, it’s the recognition that colorless evil is real and marching, and our sudden doubt as to whether assimilation or separation is ahead; of or by whom to whom; and whether by force or resignation.
The answer to our present dilemma is twofold. First, we need to revisit the late Samuel Huntington’s final book, Who Are We? Huntington argued in 2004 that we have lost the true meaning of American identity as well as the institutions it spawned. The resulting cultural threat divides America into people(s), culture(s), and language(s). In child’s parlance we all understand: Humpty Dumpty cannot be put back together again. There are forces on the Left who like it that way because America’s exceptionalism was always something to rage against.
American elites have sought and forecast a “managed decline” for some time and now they have it. It is the end of the American Era, not as a result of external assault but instead by internal strife. All as they make millions and exert power on the way down.
Which brings us to the second part of the answer, which is Oakshottean in nature and has to do with the inherent tension between the individual and the collective. The necessity of civil association and the given procedural norms and rules which make life possible have been eroded by the pathological animus to turn civic life into an ideologized collective. Collectivism, having usurped all rights and the notion of merit, has become our national calling card. Out the window with all past customs, forms of integrity, market mechanisms, and codes of good behavior. To borrow and rephrase a line from Nixon—“we are all Marxists now.”
Now the sanguine truth.
There is a point, closer than most Americans may think, where the bulk of the population will become fed up and say they’ve had enough. They don’t want to do away with all the rules, the police, the Supreme Court, or common decency. Aware of their error, they see the folly and failure of their ways and come back to America and her basic foundations. They don’t want to destroy the culture any longer and see a need for peace and prosperity rooted in classic American values.
The Biden regime bets on the setting sun, whether they admit it or not. It is up to readers like you to bet the other way—that America’s sun is still rising—before it is too late.
We may be reaching that tipping point soon. Hasten the day. In the words of 2 Peter 3:11-12, “Live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”