John Leo

Rub your eyes. Did we just see a Democratic convention brimming with flag-waving patriotism, respect for the military, and references to God and values? Why, yes, I believe we did. Barack Obama, the impressive new African-American star of the Democratic Party, told us how blue-state Americans ?worship an awesome God,? the implication being that Democrats generally are deeply committed to religion and overcome by the power and majesty of God. Even semialert people who follow politics with one eye shut know this isn?t really the case. As umpteen scholars have pointed out, the Democrats are morphing into a secular, or nonbelieving party, while the most fervent nonminority Christians are moving into the Republican column.

Obama?s second heresy was to announce that ?there is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America. There?s the United States of America.? This was a not-very-credible repudiation of the politics of multiculturalism and separatism that Democrats have been busy forcing into the schools and into the law, often while expressing contempt for assimilation and the one-America ideal that Obama celebrated in his talk. The theme of the convention, E pluribus unum, ?out of many, one,? was an obvious way of trolling for unwary moderates, but Al Gore?s flub in 1994 more accurately reflects the party?s priority. Gore got E pluribus unum backwards, translating it as ?from the one, many.?

The Boston convention was a festival of values that the Democratic Party either does not hold or does not want mentioned much in the public arena. Has any Democratic gathering paid so much positive attention to the Pledge of Allegiance? Obama promoted the pledge. Ted Kennedy offered an improbable (for him) twofer: By using the phrase ?under God,? he invoked both faith and the pledge. The party platform announced that the ?common purpose? of Americans is to ?build one nation under God.? But the pledge has been under heavy fire from Democrat pressure groups for years, both for the ?under God? line and the sheer fact that it is said in schools. Millions of Americans view the pledge as an affirmation of community and national commitment. Among Democratic groups, it is usually viewed as mandatory patriotism. 
The same is true of the flag. Colleges and schools frequently resist the flying of the flag or simply ban it as narrow or too provocative. After 9/11, Lawrence Summers, the president of Harvard, asked the academic world to rethink its reflexive hostility to patriotism and urged the ?coastal elites? (aka the Democratic establishment) to move closer to mainstream values. That hasn?t happened in real life, but in Boston it happened in the world of political marketing.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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