Letter from Australia: on the American election

Dear American Friend,

You must think it strange that a foreigner, an Australian, cares about your presidential election. However it is hard not to be drawn into the huge debate which is currently roiling social media.

In my early years, America meant things like John F Kennedy and the space program. It meant Honest John rockets and the Manhattan Project. Or the Dick Van Dyke Show and Chubby Checker.

Broadly, I grew up admiring the American achievement, in a younger brother kind of way, and I generally felt that America was a force for good. Again, a bit bossy and directive like an older brother, I imagine, but basically benign.

As I matured, I came to realise that America was really a Protestant country, indeed Puritan in its fundamental ethos. As a Catholic, that troubled me, but only a little. I was sure that the “great and the good” and “the best and the brightest” in America were on the side of the material and moral progress of Western civilisation.

I suppose I was vaguely aware that the Puritan streak in America gave it a curiously ambivalent attitude to the world and the flesh, and a tendency to rush to occupy the moral high ground, to use the rhetoric of the pulpit in the secular world, to condemn the backslider, and to reach for the slogan.

It was a kind of austerity, which one could also learn to live with.

However now it seems that that Puritan tendency has been co-opted into a busybodying desire to spread, of all things, sodomy and abortion throughout the world. The self-righteous tone has become virulent political correctness. All the worst cultural products and most disturbing ideas and memes seem to come from the United States today. They wash up on foreign shores, including here in Australia and some at least take root and fester in our society too.

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are effectively White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Hillary represents what happens when the overvaluation of women which seems to be part and parcel of traditional America lets loose the feminine principle to ride roughshod over reason and masculinity. Trump represents possibly the last gasp of WASP pride.

Hillary Clinton is a woman whose most ostentatious cause (pro-abortion feminism) is a rejection of normative womanhood which must hasten the demise of the folkways of her own WASP ethnic group. If demography is destiny, and if Hillary becomes president, it will mean the increasing and probably inevitable collapse of her own (British) ethnic group in the United States, and its replacement with Hispanic and other groups.

A masculine system can handle a woman who plays by its rules (like Margaret Thatcher or Queen Elizabeth the First, or Mrs Gandhi) but it cannot survive real and ongoing “petticoat government” by formidable American feminists of the Puritan woman type represented by Hillary Rodham Clinton (of Wellesley College).

If Donald Trump prevails, which is probably not the more likely result, things may be different. The old American ethos might gain another life. But his candidature is something of a “last hurrah”. Many American men seem to have effectively given up and lost their morale. I have been stunned by some of the remarks from American men about their reverence for women like Hillary.

And that is one of the problems with Protestantism. Unlike the present pope, who has recently been complaining about the dangers of “gender ideology” to marriage – because he is a Latin man who no doubt would exclaim “vive la différence!” – Protestants have never quite known what to make of women. At times there has been a troubling tendency among WASPs in America to pedestalise the womenfolk.

And there is no higher pedestal than the American Presidency.

Wishing you all the best in November,

 

Julian

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12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Henry C on October 2, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    The US attitude reminds me of the tale about the Jehovah’s Witness who became an atheist. He’d go around knocking on doors for no reason.

    The Yankee concern to promote their own take on social issues goes back to a very religious society that started to lose its traditional beliefs but not its religiosity. And now there’s a new generation of folk who are pushing a secular religion.

    This arc goes back to the Founding Fathers, almost none of whom was an orthodox Christian. It continued with the Civil War (Lincoln was an impressive figure, but there was little substance offered by clergy such as Mr Marsh in Little Women). And it blossomed with the disastrous experiment in Prohibition.

    Reply

    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on October 2, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      Yes. I think that adds to the point I was trying to make.

      It is interesting you mention Prohibition, Henry, because I was just reading this, which touches on the moral panic fomented by women of an earlier time, which painted men as evil slaves to the demon drink.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8744135.stm

      Hillary Clinton is very much in the same style. It is not the particular cause that matters; it is the need to spread the word to the presumably benighted, especially men.

      Incidentally, one of the most surprising aspects of American life is the general illegality of prostitution. The puritan and feminine imperatives are obviously behind that.

      Reply

  2. This American is absolutely sickened by the whole thing.

    Reply

    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on October 2, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      I genuinely feel sorry about what is happening. I would like to think that Trump is an option but I am not sure he can focus. He is no Reagan.

      Reply

  3. That American bossiness is shared (in a smaller way) by other western countries. The UK, Australia, and probably New Zealand too. It’s partly an inheritance from the proselytising streak of Britain back in its Empire days. Of course, Britain was set up – as Empire, and as a modern nation (or as collection of nation states, more accurately) according to a Protestant conception.

    In the case of the UK, Australia and New Zealand, of course, any tendency to bossiness gets minimised because we’re just so small. Not so with America. The size of the nation and their huge population magnifies their natural tendency to prissy bossiness.

    Reply

    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on October 3, 2016 at 4:50 am

      I keep thinking of the remark attributed to a Canadian Prime Minister. That being in a relationship with the US is like sharing your bedroom with an elephant. No matter how well-intentioned the elephant, it gets uncomfortable.

      The new problem is that I am no longer sure of the intentions of the elephant.

      Reply

  4. Posted by Julian O'Dea on October 14, 2016 at 6:14 am

    http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/504065/america-post-christianity/

    “We’ve Reached the End of White Christian America”

    Reply

  5. Posted by Maryse Usher on October 21, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Excellent post, Julian. The roots of the phenomenon called America were already dying in the late 19th Century when the prescient Hillaire Belloc referred to the experiment of Protestant Industrial Capitalism as a heresy. The prosperity gospel and all that. E. Michael Jones has some deep and caustic things to say about American multiculturalism engineered by Jews after WW1 who wanted to set up chronic national conflicts to deflect attention from their own projects, which Belloc insists always lead to anti-semitism and which is not the fault of the host country.
    I really like the way you describe the seeds of destruction in America’s DNA, as it were. This is a rich seam, for sure, and the eyes of the interested will be fixed on America’s death throes (unless there is a miracle) for some years, whoever becomes President. Just a matter of how fast it happens.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Julian O'Dea on November 16, 2016 at 7:13 am

    https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2016/08/25/franciscans-protest-trump-advisers-dig-church/

    ‘The Franciscan Action Network released a statement Thursday accusing the new CEO of the Trump campaign of “anti-Catholic” and “racist” undertones when he suggested Catholic leaders back immigration reform because “the church in this country is dying” and needs new members.’

    Reply

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