It was roughly during the 2008 presidential campaigns when Simon Schama had taken an interest in understanding the historical conflicts of the country. He is concerned of the issue of immigration in the United States, which still continues to stand as one of the more pressing issues at present times, and therefore, hypothesizes that its origins could be traced way back during its founding.
America was deemed to be mainly protestant and white as a nation, regardless of the fact the initial settlers were immigrants themselves. There are many events in the history of the nation that attempted to conquer this one-sided perspective including the 1848 attempt at annexing Mexico, the influx of the Chinese in the 1900s, as well as the 1920 European industrialization and consequent migration. All of which were not excessively successful due to the predisposing and dominant idealism of a white nation.
Simon, therefore bears his sentiment of Obama being the key to finally fostering ethnic diversity in the States, as very dear.
Faith. Simon argues that Faith has had a considerable influence in the redefinition of America, noting that it was faith that led to the formation of the 1600 colonies in the first place. Further highlighting that America is actually one of the first nations that had immortalized a sense of religious freedom via the constitution, post-independence. It is this same concept of faith where Obama draws many of his political inspirations from.
War. Simon expresses how generally skewed the world’s perception of American war is. Pointing out that the subject of war has always been divided among America’s people – even from the start, between its founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton and up to contemporary times such as in San Antonio, Texas where a concentric population of veterans and active soldiers hail from. Americans are therefore challenged to rethink the connotations of this aspect of the nation.
Abundance. Simon also highlights the relative sense of abundance Americans seemingly possess. Although America is indeed an economic wonder, boasting massive land mass and industries to point of being called the land of freedom and opportunity, a major rising scarcity has become apparent in recent times – the scarcity of water. Even the miraculous Hoover Dam, designed to be a grand-scaled farming tool can no longer keep up with the demand of water anymore.