As an adjunct to my Peasant Theory, I need to flesh out a couple things that are brought to mind by the phrases 'It's a big country' & 'It's a free country'. These items mostly arise was I get rather disspirited by clumsy comparisons between the US and various socialist Scandinavian nations. They also arise when, as is popular now in Quora, people talk about the experiences of recent immigrants dealing with the reality of America as contrasted with all of the myths they've heard all of their lives prior to coming here.
On the first note, it immediately comes to mind that the examples of Denmark or Sweden make very little sense because Sweden is Sweden and its history is not arbitrarily swappable with that of the US. You can't hope to evolve one nation on the basis of an abstraction of another country's history. Sweden will never have it's George Washington, just as America will never have its Cromwell, nor will Canada have its Idi Amin. I'm not suggesting much in favor of a Great Man Theory, but this is a quick way to illustrate that political developments are not fungible commodities. Everyone in hindsight sees that al-Maliki in Iraq provided no Jacksonian Democracy for that nation. My point is, that which is possible (absent tyranny) is only possible due to the particular and transient confluences of political power. You cannot cut and paste policy from state to state.
I've made this point differently before. In Little Old Scandinavia I said:
Scandinavian countries are not good benchmarks for America. I'm not sure that they are for Europe either, but they always lie at the up end of some hockey stick of arbitrary predictors of the good life. In their socialist way, I suppose such things are predictable like cost of living increases mandated by the state, but they are also relatively small countries. Their isn't a lot of dynamism at work in those places. I tend to think of them as partial demographics. That is to say, anything you can say about Finland, you can say about any particular American suburb or university. It's small and isolated enough to be artificial.
It's that last item, small enough to be artificial, that keeps this in mind. There is a kind of social inertia which grows in correlation to the number of people involved in a single system. The US has many systems because we're more deeply embedded with independence and individualism as values. Small states can't afford that - for them it would be far too chaotic. And I see that this has implications in immigration policy - a smaller state would have a more difficult time without assimilationist policy, but 15 million new Americans is not going to turn this country on its head. Perhaps if they all went to South Dakota, but that's not what happens.
Americans disperse and they go to their own ground. If you want to live in Watts, CA, you know what to expect. If you want to live in Billings Montana, you expect something different, and it will be different in Indianapolis and Miami. It's a free country. Find your place.
I think it is the second note that is illuminating to everyone. People have found their place in America, lots of people in lots of places. And while there can be said to be some regular pattern to the waves and generations of ethnic majorities in various Brooklyn neighborhoods over the years, the Irish will have done it differently than the Jews. The American mainstream becomes less meaningful culturally, but the core of American values becomes more important as the proliferation of laws becomes more insidious. We have a Constitution and that core is critical, even as we absorb more and more diversity. It must be a core of law, you see.
It is this core, the Constitution, serving as a benchmark of Western Civilization, that must resonate. I am confident that it does, because within the broad inertial society of the Peasants, the Slice and the Ruling Class, that which is Constitutional is very well established and very well funded. Few people expect that which most needs doing to keep America strong is in fact, unconstitutional. We are interestingly diverse and divided and even awkwardly and stupidly divisive at times. But we Americans are not fundamentally perverse. We go with the Constitutional flow.
That flow is not going Progressive or Socialist or Fascist or any more than 10 points from the center. Within that core is an iron center, a hardcore America. And whether or not we admit it or take it for granted, that's not moving. It will be there and remain attractive because it is aligned with our best understanding of ourselves - an understanding that is sufficiently profound to withstand the ambitions of the world's wealthiest and most powerful institutions which seek out and defend the shelter that the American Constitution affords.
In the coming inflation, this will be tested. And even in decline and remission, the core of America will remain.