The U.S. has always been multicultural with an E Pluribus Unum idea that the country forms one nation out of the multiplicity of ethnicities, races, cultures, and traditions. Of course, It never really worked. Even among the white population, the white South was separate from the national culture and the legacies of the Lost Cause, segregation, and white racial violence were ignored by those like Samuel Huntington who postulated a unitary culture.
However, the situation has changed dramatically since the earthquake of Obama’s election as the first black president in 2008 and the follow-up shock of Trump’s election eight years later. What’s happened in the U.S. is the onset of two “integrative” or common cultures that are both changing so rapidly that the country can be said to be undergoing SIMULTANEOUS cultural transformations while also at the same time developing into a dual national culture nation–“E Pluribus Duo” according to Garrison Keilor.
Sacrifice as Working Principle.
In response to the pandemic, white conservatives have made sacrifice into an important part of Trump-centric identity. What does this mean? The Covid pandemic entails the risk of catching the disease and dying for every part of the American population. Within the multicultural and socially liberal part of the population, the disposition has been to reduce the risk through masks, social distancing, and vaccination and support government efforts to mandate these practices. To the contrary, Trump-centric conservatism has made “refusal” to reduce Covid risk and “defiance” of public health efforts into principles of conservative identity and have been willing to see large numbers of people be infected and die from Covid rather than cooperate (or “obey” as conservatives say). And it’s not an abstract principle either. In practice, conservatives have been seriously ill themselves and still refused to cooperate with mitigation and vaccines, seen their friends and co-workers die and still refuse cooperation, and also seen their parents, spouses, and children die and still refuse cooperation. To Trump-concentric conservatives, the most important priority is maintaining the refusal to cooperate that they view as crucial to white conservative identity. If those closest to them die from Covid, that’s a sacrifice they are willing to make. In this sense, an acceptance of human sacrifice has become a working principle of Trump-centric conservatism in the U.S.
One example of the extent of the acceptance of human sacrifice can be seen below. Conservative Montana cartoonist Ben Garrison not only refused to be vaccinated but also refused to go to the hospital after coming down with Covid. The same was the case with his wife and two children. Garrison believes he and his family caught Covid while going out to dinner with another couple. Refusing to cooperate with public health, Garrison (and evidently his family) were unvaccinated while also engaging in no mitigation themselves and accompany at least one infected person. This is one of the realities of Covid. Once someone is infected, the disease is likely to knife through families because symptoms don’t emerge for a couple weeks. With CovidIn this sense, Garrison was willing to risk his family as well as himself in going out to a restaurant with a couple who probably weren’t either vaccinated or masked. Given that there have been 42.9 million cases and 688,000 Covid deaths in the United States, the risk was real but Garrison was willing to risk himself, his wife, and his two kids in the name of his conservative beliefs about Covid.