I feel like American social conservatives used to sell a certain trade-off to justify bigotry. It wasn’t one I agreed with, but it was one I could kind of understand.
There was this ideal of a Mayberry America–a land of prosperous small towns where everyone lives in 2.7-child families with a skilled-tradesman father and stay-at-home mother, every family in town turns up to the 4th of July barbecue, and Jesus Flag Apple Pie Amber Waves Of Grain.
Mayberry America isn’t a good thing; the whole image is conspicuously and intentionally exclusive of LGBTQ people, non-white people, non-Christian people, disabled people, and anyone who doesn’t want a social role so prescriptive that Brave New World seems like anarchy. But you can kind of see the appeal. You can see how for a certain type of person how it might give them warm and fuzzy feelings, how it might be their hope for the country.
But now I feel like even that hope has disappeared. The pretext of “we have to be cruel because Mayberry only works if everyone fits in” is gone and replaced with cruelty in a vacuum. People who have no interest in a traditional nuclear family are still homophobic anyway. People who have no Christian faith or community still hate Muslims and Jews. “A women’s place is in the home” misogyny has given way to “grab them by the pussy” misogyny.
Even as someone who had no place in Mayberry to begin with, I find this disheartening.