While I agree that Obama’s victory doesn’t mean that America’s collapse is imminent, I fear it could signify the end of what historian Charles Murray calls the “American project,” which is the ongoing test of our founders’ belief that good government restrains men from injuring one another while otherwise leaving them free to establish their own pursuits. In his book “Coming Apart,” Murray argues that as America has moved towards fully embracing Europe’s advanced welfare state, the success of the “American project” has grown increasingly doubtful. He argues that if we allow this to happen, something “immeasurably precious” will be lost.
Murray believes the advanced welfare state deprives people of several things they need to lead meaningful lives, such as self-respect. Self-respect, he argues, must be earned, but this becomes more difficult when the state intervenes to meet many of one’s needs. He argues further that the advanced welfare state weakens key sources of deep human satisfaction such as family, vocation, community, and faith.
As this happens, people are less likely to pursue important activities like raising a family, supporting oneself, and being a good neighbor, and over time they become less able to function in a free society.
I think conservatives fear that President Obama’s re-election ensures the failure of the “American project.”