On this Fourth of July weekend I saw a cartoon posted on Facebook where a young boy looks up to his grandfather during a fireworks show and asks "What are we celebrating?" and the grandfather responds "That we were once a free country". The grandfather is holding a newspaper announcing the recent Supreme Court decision on Obamacare. It shouldn't surprise you it was drawn for a conservative website.
The Supreme Court decisions on the ACA and same-sex marriage were triumphant capping for what I called the "Nationalist Left" in an article for the American Conservative. Although such triumphs should not have come as a surprise because the court itself and the commercial interests it has almost always represented have been the greatest centralizers and nationalizers in American life. When a patchwork quilt of laws adopted by the states interferes with commerce in any fashion the court more often than not will side with those commercial interests to standardized the whole country for sake the efficiency which leads to more profit. There was no way the court was going to allow either the ACA or SSM to exist in such a quilt-like fashion, It was either going to be the law of the whole land or wasn't. That's how its has operated since 1787.
What's different this time its the political Left reaping the patriotic benefit from nationalization and the political Right being alienated from it. This wasn't always true. Since the Cold War and especially during the Vietnam War, it was the political Right seizing patriotism as cause for itself. Dissent against American foreign policy, the notion of there being a "Blame America first crowd" the expounding for "American Exceptionalism" have found expression on the Right side of the political ledger. But the events of the previous few weeks may well have been a turning point and the relationship of the Right, both political and ideological, towards America may well have changed to the point where the hills one side or the other occupies may well be matched down and switched.
Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore reportedly broke down in anguish at the court's decision over SSM. One can imagine the anguish the former Vietnam Vet through the sum of his life experience is going through as he realizes that a country like Uganda for example, bans SSM and the U.S. does not. So what's so exceptional about America anymore? He has to ask himself. And if it's true as he says Christians will now be persecuted for opposing SSM, then the process of alienation from the nation upholding what they feel is a Godless law, will only increase. Those opposing the ACA because it is "socialist" will certainly feel the same way. Republican candidates will certainly talk about repeal and Constitutional amendments during the upcoming election, but with sizable majorities of the voting public supporting both SSM and much of the ACA (except for the part known as Obamacare) they will do so at their only at their own political peril. Indeed, such persons can't even retreat to the Confederacy, the alternative America they defended in the past now that its symbol has passed from a narrative of valor to one seen in the context of present of being a toxic symbol of hate and murder.
So what's left those on the Right if patriotism becomes the last refuge of the Leftist? We hear talk of Benedict Options for the religiously minded, about breaking away and tuning out, retreating exile from the America of 2015 and of the future. At least such talk is the acknowledgement politicians and parties aren't going to save them. But then what can? If it's true, Rush Limbaugh perceptively said recently, "We fine-tune socialism and call it conservatism" then perhaps the best course is acknowledging this and moving on. We may well be a far cry from Reagan's envisioned "City on a Hill" rhetoric ideologically but politically to do so would be poisonous, as it was for liberals before the end of the Cold War. Indeed, the spectacle of those on the Right trying to pontificate what America means to them given the realities of America 2015 and beyond will be incredibly difficult. If they only pine for the past they will only be supported in such places which also do so. If they announced hatred for the present they will noted and accordingly be punished. They can try to think anew but cannot do so outside of the context of the current USA and what will be. If that's too big a burden to bare they should run to the hills as some have suggested but don't expect separation will lead to renewal and don't expect it will lead to peaceful isolation. The America of today doesn't provide a lot of room despite plenty of elbow room when it comes to all the wide open spaces. Of that, the Supreme Court has made sure of.