I have learned that in my own studies here over the last decade. It’s our ability to learn from history, and so step back from the brink, that is the secret of America’s success.
The present political conflict has elements of the Civil War and World War II in it. Like the Civil War it’s primarily a sectional struggle, this time between cities and suburbs, and also (so far) primarily a political struggle. At the same time it’s also a global struggle over values, with people around the world wanting to tear apart the post-war order and so make war upon one another. It will be America’s job, over the next four years, to offer a credible alternative.
Also, as with previous crises, this one has roots going back a generation. The Civil War followed a generation of compromises between North and South, brokered by the West. World War II followed the harsh peace of World War I, and the rise of Empires (including, thanks to Teddy Roosevelt, our own).
Similarly, everything we’re seeing now is an outgrowth of what I have called the Nixon Thesis of Conflict.
Let’s remember what that was about.