It’s been seven years since we wrote how your iPod is ruining America. The thesis of that piece was that technology made life easy and long, and that we were becoming separated from life in America as it was lived in olden days, in danger of forgetting the values and lessons that made the country so special.
Since 2005, we’ve seen the rise of ubiquitous wireless, smartphones and mobile devices of all sorts, the social networks, YouTube, tumblr, twitter, texting, and every sort of instant communication. As a consequence, we’re constantly bombarded with information, which is fine. What is not fine, what is instead surprising and shocking, is the obscenity and vulgarity on display — and the complete lack of shame on the part of those doing it. (The amazing obscenity of pop music for the young, concealed only on FCC-regulated media, is another manifestation of the disintegration of traditional values.) We never imagined such a thing was possible.
Technology, as it turned out, wasn’t the problem, but it revealed how widespread the problem is and made it easier to distribute. The basic problem is cultural. Over 20% of Americans (increasing year-by-year) now self-identify as secular, and that way western Europe’s rot lies. At least 30-40% of children are born out of wedlock or in households without fathers, another disaster. There is no sign that these trends are going to reverse anytime soon.
Worse still. the cultural elites in the academy and the arts are almost wholly supportive of this insanity. We chanced to listen to Smiley and West’s recent discussion with Jeffrey Toobin (look up their bios!) and it was a perfect example of what the left, the academy, and the media really believe. Man-made climate change is real and catastrophic, Republicans are anti-knowledge, anti-science racists, capitalism is the enemy of the people, a large and powerful central government is the solution to life’s ills, and on and on. It’s appalling that so many reasonably intelligent people believe such rubbish, but evidently they do.
We don’t know how this will end, but it doesn’t look good. On the one hand, technology empowers the cultural and moral rot; on the other hand, arithmetic dictates that there’s going to be a day of reckoning in a few years, and hard reality often wins when its opponent is fatuous utopianism. On the one hand, the blue state secular media, government and cultural institutions control the framework of acceptable debate; on the other hand, businesses will continue to flee broke, high-tax blue states for the lower tax red states that are more in line with traditional American values. And of course there are always major exogenous events that might tip the scales one way or the other.
That said, we are pretty pessimistic about the future of the nation. Put it another way: if we ran for president in 2012, we’d have run a campaign pretty much like Mitt Romney’s (absent the waffling and hair-dye, and with a much better GOTV and rapid-response effort to counter his demonization by the other side). But here’s the thing: win or lose, half the country is on the other side, and the culture and education establishment are still in the hands of the foes of traditional America. It doesn’t look good.