Our Founding Fathers in their deliberations often referred to “the genius of the people.” It was a concept long familiar in Western civilizational discussions of society and government. What did they mean?
They referred to the particular characteristics of a people that made them an identifiable reality and often a polity. Ways of life, customs, habits, attitudes, economic pursuits, religion, shared values and concepts of government---a common sense of their identity as a people. This was always a factor to be considered by statesmen and philosophers. The “genius of the people” referred to a social reality before government that always had to be taken into account.
The Founders knew that Americans shared something of a common genius, still in formation after the Revolution. They understood that the differences between the people of Massachusetts and South Carolina were significant. They even understood there were differences between Massachusetts and New Hampshire and North and South Carolina. No problem in a confederal union of sovereign states as long as good faith dominated.
By the 20th century a common sense of the genius of the American people had developed. Just think of the Americans of World War II. At home and abroad people had a clear sense of what “American” meant. That is now long gone. There is no genius of a people in Blue America---only a chaos of manners, values, identities, covered by an evil ideology designed to suppress Western civilization at the roots. No real society at all. Some remnants of an American character as we have known it can be found surviving across Red America, but they are besieged by an aggressive Blue State, leaderless, and no longer fully conscious of their identity as a people. Any potential leaders of these people are destroyed by the media or the federal police. There is effectively no real freedom of speech, press, and assembly for them. Walking through the Capitol that is supposed to belong to the people is now insurrection. Leftist mobs suppress others as they please.
What do Americans any longer share? Consumerism, debt, television shows, commercial athletics, a fake and evil idea of the purpose of government, and a completely unresponsive ruling class. Two Presidential candidates, Obama and Madame Clinton, have declared in public that a vast part of the population are hopeless “deplorables.” And these are representatives of what used to be the party of the common man. If Americans had any identity, such insults would have driven their authors into hiding.
But, in fact, such insults go down well with millions of pseudo-intellectuals who like to think of themselves as nobly above the Deplorables. Future historians, if there are any, are likely to attribute the fall of America to a vast proliferation of shallow learning that is puffed up but disguises a lack of knowledge and wisdom. A product of the Great Society’s universalization of higher education. This shallow learning is rife among politicians, journalists, professors. Just listen to their ignorant assertions about history and absurd notions of American omnipotence and virtue in foreign affairs.
What Americans believe and are taught about their history is not bad interpretation. It is a juggernaut of malicious lies. But there can be no history where there is no people. How could we expect immigrant masses from the Third World to know or care anything about the achievements of Americans in founding free institutions and settling a continental wilderness. We no longer have an American history because there is no American people in effective being.
Politicians until recently were seldom statesman, and they were often cynical, deceptive, and corrupt. But they had a tough understanding of how the world really works. Our leaders, congressmen, governors and ranking bureaucrats, now are rich boys without firm character. They lack the life experience that used to be the lot of even affluent youth. Politics is a matter of posturing to the media and vocal interests. Many of them have never worked up a sweat at any real work or been acquainted with any real workers. They have gone to exclusive schools and never had to pinch pennies like most normal folk. They enjoy, unearned, lavish offices and benefits that they assume is their due.
Such people cannot lead a society that expects to survive.
Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews