What is the true legacy of the United States? Is it irreversibly tarnished by the stain of slavery and Jim Crow? Or is it an overall positive but complex story?
According to Ben Shapiro’s latest book, How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps, these questions are of existential importance to the country. Shapiro says that, if the United States is to survive, America must collectively decide that the ideals espoused by the Founding Fathers are both tenable and realized. If the country can’t agree on these ideals, it’s doomed.
Shapiro’s book is eerily well-timed. One doesn’t have to be particularly well-informed to know that the current political discourse in the U.S. is highly contentious. Violent and nonviolent public demonstrations have been formed to protest police brutality. The deeply revisionist New York Times’ 1619 Project has attempted to reframe American history around the arrival of slaves to North America. On top of all of this, COVID-19 continues to threaten the economy and the election process.
According to Shapiro, there are two groups having debates over the trajectory of American policy and identity. The first contains those who believe in the validity of American ideals; Shapiro calls this group the “Unionists.” At their core, Unionists believe that three elements define the country: “America’s philosophy of reason, equality, liberty, and limited government; America’s culture of individual rights and social duties; and America’s shared history.” These categories are codependent. You cannot have any two without the third.
The second camp, labeled the Disintegrationists, believe the opposite of the Unionists. Philosophically, they say human nature is inherently malleable, and natural rights simply don’t exist. Culturally they uphold a collectivist vision. Historically they contend that America is fundamentally exploitative.
Shapiro fears that, if the Disintegrationist vision wins out, the country will not survive. It will become something else—something destructive and unrecognizable. The Disintegrationists seem to be winning. After all, they control all the country’s major institutions.
But Shapiro believes there is still hope for America.
We must “learn to love,” he insists. We must “learn to trust.” We must “remember what unites us, rather than what divides us.” We “must be Americans – Americans together.”
This is no doubt an optimistic message, one that strikes home for many patriotic Americans.
It’s also refreshing. Shapiro is one of the most popular conservative voices active in the U.S.. To see him take a bipartisan approach to American issues and call for cultural harmony is a nice change from the online trolling that occurs so frequently.
Liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, Shapiro seems to legitimately want the country to survive and thrive—even if his preferred policies don’t win the day. He believes this as every good citizen should.
Shapiro’s message is heartwarming, but some claim his evidence and diagnosis of the country’s current state of affairs aren’t particularly new or practical. In fact, they’re rather old views.
For years, many progressives, moderates, centrists, and conservatives have preached a message of unity. Some have written against the faulty philosophy of those who would tear down American and Western values. Others have tried to push forward a plan to ditch a tribalistic two-party system.
Shapiro isn’t required to argue something fundamentally new or even to propose a unique strategy for keeping the country together. He is entitled to write about whatever he pleases. But, if you’ve kept up with the times and are looking for a revolutionary or revelatory read, How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps probably isn’t the book for you.
This book is a fine choice for those who have recently become involved and interested in politics. It can help understand this cultural moment from a fair bipartisan perspective. His reputation is a combatant in the war against the radical left. This is combined with his punchy and readable prose. These qualities allow his book to stick to the minds of readers. His evidence may not be ground-breaking. But it sufficiently defends his positions and sends his opponents back on their heels. His description and distinction between Unionists and Disintegrationists is helpful for those unfamiliar with the fundamental differences between Liberalism and far-left ideology.
We live in confusing times. How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps in many ways is a handbook. Though it’s not comprehensive or ground-breaking, perhaps that’s the point. This book is simply Shapiro’s attempt to help others navigate tumultuous cultural waters, and to call us to come together in the face of potentially radical change.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.