Finding Unity in a Divided America

We are in the middle of a national identity crisis. Faith, patriotism and hard work have disappeared. Wokeness, gender ideology, and the climate cult have taken their place. We spend so much time celebrating our diversity that we forget the values that bind us together. And I believe deep in my bones that those values still exist. We can take our country back.
– Vivek Ramaswamy, candidate for GOP nomination for U.S. President

Before writing off one of the most interesting candidates to jump onto the national political stage in years, merely because he happens to be saying literally everything you want to hear, peruse what his actual ideological opponents are saying about him. From Voxan attack piece with an incoherent theme that might best be exemplified by this excerpt: “At the root of Ramaswamy’s appeal is the pernicious ‘model minority’ stereotype — a story about self-sufficiency and innate talent woven around the creation of an Asian American professional class in the 1960s — that has since been used to dismantle civil rights, divide communities of color, and perpetuate the myth of America as colorblind.”

According to Vox, and by extension, the American Left, the story of an individual achieving success is divisive. No surprise there. The political currency of the Left, spent lavishly and to dreadful effect, is resentment and fear. America is racist. Capitalism is oppressive. A climate catastrophe is upon us. The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of heterosexual white men, and Vivek Ramaswamy is their stooge.

Leftist attacks on politicians and influencers like Ramaswamy aren’t anything new. Every time a conservative “of color” surfaces, they’re marginalized. Larry Elder, also running for the GOP presidential nomination, has been dubbed “the black face of white supremacy.” But despite coordinated smear campaigns from the Left, increasing numbers of black and Latino politicians are moving right of center. And Ramaswamy’s core message – that we are in the middle of a national identity crisis – is directly on target. Until a new coalition forms, transcending ethnicity, income, and geography, and wielding landslide, supermajority electoral dominance, American culture will remain divided and adrift.

During the final decade of the Cold War in 1984, President Ronald Reagan was reelected by a landslide. His “big tent” approach brought together fiscal conservatives, Neocons, and conservative Christians. Scarcely a generation later, in 2004, George W. Bush also won a decisive victory by unifying these same factions. But the model that worked then will not work today. Fiscal conservatives have to answer for a bipartisan debt binge that started in 1980 and has gotten progressively worse. Neocons have to answer for a foreign policy that has, among other things, destabilized the Middle East, created a surveillance state at home, and is supporting a horrific war in Ukraine with no exit strategy. As for conservative Christians, the Left has unfairly but successfully defined them as anti-woman, anti-gay, and anti-“trans,” and is using them to stereotype conservatives as dangerous extremists.

Restoring a positive, powerful and widely shared American identity will require assembling a new coalition, and there are plenty of new approaches that will bring Americans together again. Ramaswamy offers one avenue – a hyper-articulate messenger who is too good to be true for white conservatives, and authentic enough to attract nonwhite voters who never heard a conservative speak to them so directly. Ramaswamy embodies the colorblind essence of American values, and knows how to express them with clarity and without compromise. His presence, and the presence of politicians like him, will bring millions of ethnic voters into the conservative coalition.

Another avenue towards realignment is being trailblazed by Donald Trump, who instead of participating in this week’s GOP primary candidate debate, plans to speak to an audience of striking auto workers. The audacity of this decision is historic. Republicans never presumed to stand before thousands of striking workers, but as a populist conservative, Trump seizes the opportunity. Expect him to talk about the stupidity of trying to force EVs onto American drivers before the technology is ready. Expect him to defend conventional energy and conventional automotive technology. Expect him to tell the truth about immigration – when it is unregulated and absent merit-based criteria, it is nothing but an economic drain on the nation. Trump recognizes something the leftist leadership of these unions deny – the vast majority of autoworkers love America, believe in traditional values, and want politicians who will first protect them, before prioritizing economic refugees that arrive illegally by the millions.

What desperate leftist media institutions call “far right” are in fact common sense reforms that most Americans support. Politicians like Trump and Ramaswamy, along with hundreds of other prominent national politicians in the U.S. Congress, are promoting a pathway to restoring American greatness and a shared national identity. Joining this common sense crusade that crosses lines of ethnicity and income are not only members of minority groups and members of trade unions, but civil engineering companies that want to build infrastructure that makes economic sense, and academic reformers that want to return K-12 education to the basics and return higher education to uplifting Western values and issuing marketable degrees.

The common sense crusade can also include members of law enforcement and the judiciary, along with social workers and other public bureaucrats who have the integrity to recognize and reject the special interest capture of public institutions, resulting in rising crime along with a host of other failed public policies. Included in this cohort would be so-called Blue Dog Democrats and independent voters, tired of watching every American institution fail, one after another, always spending more and delivering less. Even disaffected environmentalists will join the common sense crusade, as they realize that environmentalism has been hijacked by financial special interests and is now doing more harm than good to the environment.

With all this potential for unity, and with this deep American reservoir of common sense, who is left? Only the scourge of civilization, that propensity for the powerful to want more power, the timeless reality that power disproportionately appeals to the corrupt, the sad erosion of checks and balances that America’s founders thoughtfully constructed in history’s finest attempt to preserve a nation that respects and nurtures individual freedoms. America’s business and political elite share a vision that abandons normal citizens. A donor fed uniparty, dominated by special interests for whom profit and power is acquired because of failing bureaucracies, punitive regulations, scarce and expensive commodities, a massive dependent class of citizens and noncitizen permanent residents, and corporate consolidation of wealth.

Americans see this reality. The hardships they’re enduring offer clarity, suggesting obvious solutions. Drill for oil. Develop nuclear power. Build roads, bridges, and buses before spending countless billions on “light rail” and “bullet trains” that hardly anyone will ever ride. Replace 100 percent EV mandates with incentives to build advanced hybrids, with no technological possibilities excluded. Bring manufacturing back onshore. Preserve cash and reject digital IDs and digital currencies. Replace ridiculous energy efficiency mandates – that merely guarantee planned obsolescence and poor performance – with reasonable innovations that deliver genuine value to consumers. End the war on housing. Restore responsible logging to lower the price of lumber, create jobs, and prevent forest fires. Protect the environment but without sacrificing the obligation to preserve opportunities for Americans to afford homes and a pleasant quality of life. Restrict immigration to merit based entry, and prioritize the patient millions who have been waiting years to come in the front door. Put criminals in prison. Compel addicts and alcoholics to get treatment; compel homeless people to go to cost effective shelters. Implement school choice, and rescue public schools from the woke mafia. And so on.

These are practical, common sense policies that Americans are ready to support. They represent a consensus that defies and transcends the stereotypical notions of Right and Left, or even Democrat and Republican. They are pro-capitalist but anti-monopoly. They embrace publicly funded infrastructure, if it is practical and yields long term economic benefits, but reject welfare dependency. They support merit-based immigration but reject open borders. They believe in meritocracy but abhor racism. They support free speech, while condemning yet permitting hate speech. They support the Second Amendment but demand the deterrent effect of strict law enforcement. They defend traditional culture and want to return it to the mainstream, but reject prejudice and bigotry.

If the candidates that offer these solutions can do so without compromise, and leaven their delivery with firm but friendly optimism, they will get elected. If they keep their promises, they will be reelected. And the new supermajority that will elect them will be impossible to stop, because apart from those members of the elite that remain recalcitrant – few in number, wielding a narrative that has been utterly discredited – everyone will be part of it.


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About Edward Ring

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also the director of water and energy policy for the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).

Photo: NEW ALBANY, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 21: The audience applauds as U.S. presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks at a campaign stop on September 21, 2023 at Axium Plastics, a packaging manufacturer, in New Albany, Ohio. Ramaswamy's speech, titled "How to Declare Independence From Communist China", detailed how the United States can move vital supply chains, including defense and pharmaceuticals, away from Chinese facilities. (Photo by Andrew Spear/Getty Images)

Notable Replies

  1. I agree Mr. Ring, but it is more than passingly difficult when those opposing common sense measures are so passionate they would rather see our entire edifice burned down than consider any compromise—even in the face of irrefutable evidence.

    I watched in disbelief as Jesse Watter’s Johnny interviewed Seattle residents who were in total denial that the city suffers from problems with drugs, crimes, and anarchy. What kind of people are these? Do they never go downtown? Do they never read a newspaper?

    It is difficult to discuss border security with someone who is adamantly opposed to the idea of borders at all----even in the face of actual human and economic costs. It is equally hard to discuss rising crime when perpetrators are presented as victims and victims as perpetrators. One can not reason with cult members or two year old’s. It is a fruitless exercise.

    And while you present your appeal to Americans that should look to leadership for these common sense approaches, public trust in leadership is at an all time low.

    For someone to ask me to trust them----just one more time—after a string of infidelities’ is asking more than a lot.

  2. I genuinely appreciate Mr. Ring’s optimistic vision for unity and success. Although he correctly identifies the groups and issues that could provide the prescription for lasting success, I think he overestimates this potential, and underestimates the determination of the globalists / Ruling Class, not to mention the vast swath of the American public addicted to its “Bread and Circuses”.

    It is said that courage can be contagious, and indeed I hope a leader will arise who can infect the receptive masses with determination. Perhaps it is Trump, or perhaps its someone who has yet to rise and unify the American public.

    Then again, that is the whole reason for the Deep State and the Orwellian tech and media monopolies–to prevent the rise of, or engage in the persecution, of current or future leaders.

  3. I sooo agree Max. I’ve reached the point where I believe optimism should only be taken in small doses and with as much salt as will dissolve in the fluid intake.

  4. Avatar for Alecto Alecto says:

    There is so much with which to agree here, but Ring misses the boat completely on immigration. He seems to be stuck on this as somehow a tenet of faith about America. He believes propaganda circulated by the same people destroying the country and the plethora of myths circulating my entire life about a “nation of immigrants”. He appears to espouse a system whereby foreigners “wait patiently” to come in the front door because what? They have a right to come here? Does Ring even believe that this is a sovereign nation?

    Can I remind him that “skills-based immigration” is what liars used in the First Bush Presidency to push H1B visas. Those “geniuses” who committed fraud to get here, then were rewarded with Green Cards. Bush II perpetuated more cheap labor lies about “doing jobs Americans won’t do” even though truckloads of evidence disputed it. But lo and behold, here we go again! The lies about “skills-based” immigration have gotten so bad, so prevalent that entire professions are now dominated by foreign citizens. In my “Red State”, foreign citizens can obtain professional and occupational licenses. So much for the “American” dream? I guess Americans don’t want to work in highly-paid, challenging professions, either? I am anti-immigration and favor a total moratorium, and that is based on facts about immigration for the past century, not myths perpetuated by those who believe in fairy tales. Ring should stop gazing at his navel and do some independent research.

    The US has tripled the population over the past century entirely attributable to immigration. Immigrants crowd out native born citizens. We have added millions who have not assimilated (Ramaswamy is a stand out because he and his family DID assimilate), but that is atypical. What is labeled “immigration” is actually “colonization”. The arguments against immigration, which no American is ever able to state because placing the welfare, prosperity and opportunities for native-born, historic Americans is totally demonized at all times by both parties and the government are numerous and compelling.

    Having lost the one anchor that required consent of the governed, constitutional governance, the PTB - a entirely unimpressive group of cowardly, corrupt mostly white males, Ring wants to remake America into a multi-culti utopia based on their beliefs, not ours. You can’t make more potable water or farmland and in places where immigration rates are highest, there are problems with both. I remember Glenn Beck stating his desire for an America of 600 million all based on immigration. That vaguely sounds like Ring’s proposal and both of them stink to high heaven probably because they never consider the burdens immigration places on sewage systems.

  5. Vivek has it right … as does our author here. But there is a tremendous hurdle to overcome in much of younger generations (under 35 say) , kids the boomers and we X Gens raised. During Covid, one of the only benefits was as kids were sent home, is that parents were able to see and her the BS their kids have been learning/digesting for the last 2-3 decades! ( the only other COVID benefit is that I lost 8 pounds exercising more)

    Pampered, hypersensitive, indulged, time managed, confused, wildly sexualized at a young age, mostly void of Judeo-Christian values, indoctrinated to hate our country, etc… How do we turn a generation like this that is now entering our institutions and political life?

Continue the discussion at community.amgreatness.com

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