Commentary Magazine


Optimistic or Pessimistic About America: Dennis Prager

The following is from our November issue. Forty-one symposium contributors were asked to respond to the question: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about America’s future?


I am both optimistic and pessimistic regarding America’s future. Here are my reasons for pessimism: first, the unique American values system, what I call the American Trinity, is under assault. These three values are announced on every American coin: Liberty, E Pluribus Unum, In God We Trust. The left has declared war on all three. It seeks to replace Liberty with equality (of result), E Pluribus Unum with multiculturalism, and In God We Trust with secularism. America is being transformed—candidate Barack Obama’s favorite word for what he sought to do to America—into another Western European country, the left’s model of a great society.

Second, the primary purpose of high schools and colleges—and increasingly, even elementary schools—is to turn the students into secular leftists. Many of these graduates know what the climate will be like in 2080 but don’t know who Stalin was, let alone who Cain and Abel were. They are proficient at using condoms and recycling, but little else. They have been taught nothing of American exceptionalism and would likely find the term incomprehensible, if not repulsive. They would save their dog before a human they didn’t know because morality is a matter of feelings, and they feel more for their dog.

Third, the expansion of the state has produced a new American. This American believes in rights more than in obligations and that the state should take care of him, his parents, his children, and his neighbor.

Fourth, the melting pot of Americans has been replaced by a patchwork quilt of Latinos, African Americans, and other identity groups, all of whom are victims of an oppressive sexist, racist, intolerant, Islamophobic, xenophobic society.

Fifth, half or more of the Jews and Christians who attend synagogue or church are more likely to be led by a priest, minister, or rabbi who preaches not about their sins but about America’s.

Sixth, civilization’s single most important institution, marriage, is increasingly regarded as pointless and is being redefined for the first time in history to include members of the same sex. Why? Because the notions that marriage is sacred and that men and women are intrinsically different—a difference that carries unique significance—are depicted as patriarchal, anachronistic, and sexist.

And seventh, most American Jews are on the wrong side of this American divide. They do not even understand that an America that abandons her unique values will join most of the rest of the world in abandoning Israel. And many, incredibly, do not even care.

Now, my reasons for optimism:

Many Americans have finally awakened to the threat posed by leftism. They understand that the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen; that the death of God leads to the death of objective moral standards; and that the Marine Corps, not the Peace Corps, are the greatest force for world peace. And they are fighting to reassert small government, Judeo-Christian values, American exceptionalism, and a strong military, and to undo the Balkanization of America.

If these Americans win the next presidential election, I will be optimistic…about America. But the world is another matter.


Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His next book, Still the Last Best Hope (HarperCollins), will be published in 2012. His latest project is the Internet-based Prager University (

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