Culture Wars/Current Controversies

America’s First Infantada

By Joel Kotkin, American Mind

The national consciousness regresses to the level of the toddler, casting everything in stark terms of good and bad.

“We are here to guide public opinion, not to discuss it.” Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, 1804

By the calendar, the American republic is mature, but it’s becoming rapidly ever more infantilized. In everything from schooling to Covid-19 to race and global warming, we seem to be looking for simple, easy answers that a toddler might appreciate but healthy adults know are too pat to be true. Every issue is cast in stark Manichean terms—reckless Covid denier or hygienic fascist, racist versus anti-racist, climate hero or eco-criminal, enlightened about “gender fluidity” or hopelessly transphobic.

This infantilization extends across the political spectrum. The elevation of the QAnon-inspired Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia, like that of the left’s favorite, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, confirms our descent into puerile politics. Biden, with his whirring money printer, may be clumsily speeding us towards a permanent state of infancy—substitute guaranteed income for the bottle—but he has risen after a president whose knowledge of the world was drawn from cable television. We cannot go back to the likes of a man who sincerely imagined his vice president would throw a presidential election into reverse.



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