It is always a pleasure to listen to Frank DiStefano.
I think the panel is dancing around the defining grand issue of our times which is staring them in the face though, not only in this country, but across the West. The true polarizing issue is identity. It is the most sweeping change in racial and cultural demographics in our history.
The electorate is being sorted into two rival camps along the social identity axis. In one camp, you have people who are cosmopolitan and who are social liberals. In the other camp, you have people who reject those changes and who are traditionalists or social conservatives. If you ask people a simple question like “are you ashamed to be American” or “are you ashamed to be British,” you would find a rough breakdown of where this is going in the future. This is where the gargantuan cultural rift exists.
The heat in our politics is entirely around deeply polarizing racial, cultural and gender issues which are culture war flashpoints. We haven’t even gotten to the point yet where we are going to throw AI and all the disruption that is going to cause across the economy on top of this bonfire.
I think the panel is missing the great upheavals in Western culture which tend to happen around every 100 to 120 years or so:
The Thirty Years War, 1618-1648
The culture war between Catholics and Protestants built from the time of Luther before it culminated in the Thirty Years War.
The French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, 1789-1815
The Age of Reason built up from the time of Descartes and Hobbes before culminating in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.
The World Wars, 1914-1945
The Romantic age divided Europe into rival nation-states which exploded in World War I and World War II.
Our Own Times, 2020-???
After the World Wars, nationalism was discredited. Western elites turned against their own people and began replacing them with foreigners.
Look at the big picture:
Faith led the Wars of Religion. Western elites reacted to the Thirty Years War by exalting reason.
Reason led to the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. Western elites reacted to that crisis by championing sentiment.
Sentiment led the World Wars. Western elites reacted to the World Wars by embracing disenchantment and cynicism.
Disenchantment and cynicism with our own civilization led to … what?
The culture has grown toxic and has begun to combust. Politics is far more heated than in the recent past. When you step back and look at it though, you might conclude that it has to happen and always ends this way. Every age has its own big idea. The system that we have been living in since the World Wars and which was created in reaction to the World Wars is coming apart at the seams.