American Individualism and the Republican Party

As I’ve noted before, the Republican Party, in letting itself be drawn to the Far Right, has become the party committed to undoing the results of the Civil War. The two primary issues in the War were slavery and states’ rights. Today’s Republican Party, if not directly racist, certainly aligns itself with the rampant racism of the South and does nothing whatsoever to resist it.

There are many facets of today’s conservative movement, another of which is good old-fashioned American individualism. The impulse for an individual or a family to strike out on his own was a major characteristic of those who left Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries to establish themselves in the New World. That impulse remained alive in large numbers of Americans in the 19th century, driving them ever more westward. The Pilgrims of the 17th century became the Pioneers of the 19th.

After the Civil War, a stronger social cohesion made possible the development of a new social order, not radically different from the old but with less emphasis on the rugged individualism which had been so important in settling the West.

In resisting the outcome of the Civil War, the Republicans are becoming characterized not only by racism and an insistence that the states are independent units of government but by a return to individualism. The problem, of course, is that the spirit which led many to clear the forests and conquer the mountain ranges does not work so well when teamwork is required, as it is in the modern world.

The petty in-party squabbling over debate formats is comical. Each candidate wants to go his or her separate way, though the others are welcome to follow. The biggest comic, as usual, is Trump. He boasts of being the world’s best negotiator, yet he can’t even negotiate a cooperative spirit among the candidates. They renounce the leadership of their own party, try to take control of the debates for themselves, and end up merely creating more divisions.

Not a one of them, not a single one of them, is fit for the office of President. Not one of them.


About mthayes42

I am a retired pastor, interested in the Bible, cross-cultural ministries, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the current and past history of western civilization.
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