Michelle Obama infamously declared that she had never felt proud of her country until the political ascendance of her husband. Conservatives howled, and with good reason. But we ought to be on guard against replicating her error with some minor variation. Of course, I do not exempt myself here: I can be pretty down on this country and its near-term prospects — not without good reason, but to an extent that is not entirely consistent with the facts. And the facts of 2019 are not all the facts.
Politics matters, but it is not the only thing that matters, and if we allow political tribalism to cut us off from what’s best, what’s most interesting and innovative and thriving in our nation and in our culture, then we’ll be worse off for it. Conservatives of all people cannot afford to make that mistake, because the Left has better songs. If we are to resolve something for 2020, then maybe that should be our resolution: to bear always in mind that this is not Donald Trump’s America or Elizabeth Warren’s America but ours and Walt Whitman’s and John Coltrane’s and Herman Melville’s and Toni Morrison’s, and that if we really love this country, then that can only be because we love the people in it, the ones who are with us still and the ones who have been, who are “not enemies but friends.”
This will be our year. It will be the year that we make of it, which is both our great hope and our great, fearful responsibility.