In “American Nations,” I’ve sought to show how our Balkanized past has informed our divided present, in the hopes of fostering a better understanding of the American identity and predicament. But inevitably people ask what this means for the future.
In 2008, with the U.S. divided between red states and blue states, then-candidate Barack Obama called for unity over division, a common shout-out among politicians and others determined to preserve America’s under- siege, allegedly shared values. Yet such calls ignore the fact that there are no shared “American values.” We’ve always been divided. And not truly along state lines.