Like many of my countrymen, including James, I worry that the era of American greatness may be coming to an end. Often, what I observe is a country in which the mass of people are consumed by the trivial (Snooki, a pastor threatening to burn the Koran; Nikki Haley’s sex life), unable to analyze or debate anything regarding the challenges that our country faces, and resorting to simple platitudes to answer complex issues. I’ve heard more about Nikki Haley’s sex life than I have about her plans to improve our schools. I’ve read no analysis regarding how her plan to fix our economy–eliminate corporate income taxes–has actually worked for the states without corporate income taxes. Evidently whether she’s committed adultery is a bigger issue for the voters than whether her agenda is coherent. In seven weeks she’ll likely be elected our next governor.
I have liberal friends who remain convinced that the inability of middle-aged, upper-middle class Americans to have equity in their homes because they spent the past twenty years trading up and cashing out is due to evil marketers who somehow forced these folks to “keep up with the Joneses.” I have conservative friends who believe the answers to many of America’s ills–including our budget deficit–is more tax cuts. Too frequently our policy debates degenerate into ad hominem attacks. We cannot have a rational debate about the role of America’s military in the Islamic world or whether criminalizing soft drugs makes this country safer without resorting to name calling. There’s not a single important issue facing our country today in which the public debate rises above puerile simplicity.
For a little more than a month now, I’ve been helping out during the day at a local legal practice and, in that time, I have learned quickly that Greg Forman is as immensely knowledgeable as he is fiercely adversarial when it comes to the practice of family law in Charleston. On his Web site, Greg churns out quite the education for inexperienced attorneys like myself, and knowing that he occasionally deviates from subject matters such as divorce, child custody and the equitable distribution of property, I’ve been looking for a while now for a way to bring Greg’s excellent work into the mix here at America’s Right.
So, when I saw “Bill James” and “American Exceptionalism” in the headline of yesterday’s entry, I knew this would be my chance. I love baseball and, as you know, I cannot shut up about the seemingly lost notion of American exceptionalism.
Not wanting to take too much away from what can be gleaned by clicking over to Greg’s excellent piece, I should note that my eye was caught by the way Greg used local examples to address something I’ve been yammering on about for a while now: distraction and diversion in American politics.
Coming down to the Lowcountry from Philadelphia, I knew only that the most talked about gubernatorial candidate in the upcoming election was a woman named Nikki Haley. Other than her Indian heritage, her ability to garner support from Sarah Palin, and her alleged extramarital “activities,” I knew nothing of the woman. Much in the way that, if he or she were to rely upon the last few weeks of news coverage, the average American might think that the most pressing issue facing the nation in the 49 days leading up to the mid-term election was radical Islam and its reception among New Yorkers and mustachioed, match-wielding Christian pastors.
What we need is the perspective written about by Greg and, by extension, by Bill James. To see how that relates to the ongoing discussion here at America’s Right and elsewhere, you’re just going to have to do your Assigned Reading.