To understand America, you must first assemble the pieces. In the latest issue of Atlantic magazine…George Packer argues that the country has fragmented into four groups, each informed by a distinct narrative about the nation’s moral identity. These narratives “overlap, morph into one another, attract and repel one another.”
The groups are:
1. Free America
Libertarians who resent regulation in favor of individual freedom, tracing a through line from Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich to Ted Cruz
2. Smart America
A class of high earners and technocrats who attend competitive schools, embrace meritocracy, own MacBooks, and don’t intermingle with the rest of the country
3. Real America
White Christian nationalists, as recently energized by Sarah Palin and Donald Trump
4. Just America
A young generation that believes injustice is at the heart of the country’s problems and speaks the language of identity politics
All four narratives, Packer argues, “emerged from America’s failure to sustain and enlarge the middle-class democracy of the postwar years”—and all four are helping pull the country apart.
RTFA. Decide if George Packer earned his analyst paycheck, this week. Then, figure out how and if this mess can be tidied up into something productive.