America: The Redeemer Nation

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David Brooks is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times. His column appears every Tuesday and Friday. He is currently a commentator on “PBS NewsHour,” NPR’s “All Things Considered” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

We once had a unifying national story, celebrated each Thanksgiving. It was an Exodus story. Americans are the people who escaped oppression, crossed a wilderness and are building a promised land. The Puritans brought this story with them. Each wave of immigrants saw themselves in this story. The civil rights movement embraced this story.

But we have to admit that many today do not resonate with this story. This story was predicated on the unity of the American people. But if you are under 45, you were probably taught an American history that, realistically, emphasizes division — between the settlers and the natives, Founders and their slaves, bosses and the workers, whites and people of color. It’s harder for many today to believe this is a promised land. It seems promised for the privileged few but has led to marginalization for the many.

The narratives that appeal today are predicated on division and disappointment. The multicultural narrative, dominant in every schoolhouse, says that America is divided into different biological groups and the status of each group is defined by the oppression that it has suffered. The populist narrative, dominant in the electorate, says that America is divided between the virtuous common people and the corrupt and stupid elites.

Today, we have no common national narrative, no shared way of interpreting the flow of events. Without a common story, we don’t know what our national purpose is. We have no common set of goals or ideals.

We need a new national narrative. ...

Read entire article at NYT


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