Christian Nation? The United States in Popular Perception and Historical Reality

By T. Adams Upchurch | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
The American “Duality”
The Art and Science of Equipoise

FAITH AND REASON

Having now come full circle, a good way to end this study is to return to the first topic covered—the American paradox, and explore in more detail the duality thesis. This study has established that there is and always has been a dynamic tension in America between the forces of liberalism and the forces of conservatism, between science and religion, between progress and tradition. Sometimes these forces have been manifest in ways that bifurcate the American people into seemingly two different nations or races: into agrarians or urbanites, Northerners or Southerners, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, Democrats or Republicans, and white or minority. In this delicate “equipoise” neither side has been able to dominate the other permanently or limitlessly, although some have seemingly had the upper hand most of the time.1 If it seems, for instance, that the rich should automatically be in control because money equals power, remember that the poor outnumber them so greatly that the rich must fear them and make decisions accordingly, lest they imitate in America the callousness and capriciousness of the Bourbon monarchy before the French Revolution. Likewise, if it seems that whites should always be in control because they outnumber the minorities so greatly, remember that since the 1960s racial discrimination has been illegal in this country, partly the result of white magnanimity based on the egalitarian ideal expressed in the Declaration, and partly of minority riots and disturbances that generated fear among the whites running the government. It should not be surprising, therefore, that a similar ebb and flow has occurred

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