John McCain is old; Barack Obama is young. McCain looks back; Obama looks forward; McCain represents the past; Obama represents the new. See how Peggy Noonan frames the election in terms of two mindsets already at work in our culture: the Old America vs. the New America:
In the Old America, love of country was natural. You breathed it in. You either loved it or knew you should.
In the New America, love of country is a decision. It’s one you make after weighing the pros and cons. What you breathe in is skepticism and a heightened appreciation of the global view.
Old America: Tradition is a guide in human affairs. New America: Tradition is a challenge, a barrier, or a lovely antique.
The Old America had big families. You married and had children. Life happened to you. You didn’t decide, it decided. Now it’s all on you. Old America, when life didn’t work out: “Luck of the draw!” New America when life doesn’t work: “I made bad choices!” Old America: “I had faith, and trust.” New America: “You had limited autonomy!”
Old America: “We’ve been here three generations.” New America: “You’re still here?”
Old America: We have to have a government, but that doesn’t mean I have to love it. New America: We have to have a government and I am desperate to love it. Old America: Politics is a duty. New America: Politics is life.
The Old America: Religion is good. The New America: Religion is problematic. The Old: Smoke ’em if you got ’em. The New: I’ll sue.
Mr. McCain is the old world of concepts like “personal honor,” of a manliness that was a style of being, of an attachment to the fact of higher principles.
Mr. Obama is the new world, which is marked in part by doubt as to the excellence of the old. It prizes ambivalence as proof of thoughtfulness, as evidence of a textured seriousness.
She goes on in this vein. . . .What do you think of her categories? Is the New America inevitable?