So the generation that was supposed to redeem the Republic, perhaps the planet, now offers as its political grand finale an ugly match-up, part slapstick, part blood sport, between two septuagenarian faux blondes.
(I resigned from the Baby Boom in 1973 and haven’t gotten much mail from them since.)
So the generation that was raised from birth to believe that affluence was automatic and having it all was the least you could expect, now wonders if they can handle their end-of-life medical bills and leave something for the kids . . . or if they ought to check out while they still can.
(Some are. According to multiple sources, life expectancy has started dropping in America for white seniors, while the effects of slow suicide – alcoholism, drugs, obesity – are beginning to show amongst the younger.)
So the Millennials, the young people fighting our wars, collapsing under student debt and shifting jobs every few years, when they can find them, are accused by their elders of materialism and superficiality.
(I’ve a Millennial son, a debt-strangled Manhattan lawyer. No jobs available when he graduated. Excess supply, y’know. So he worked at Banana Republic and we sent him food money, before he found his career in, of all things, investment banking. He tells me that, statistically, the middle class is expanding rapidly, due to all the people being pushed out of the upper class by the One Percenters and their wannabes.)
Meanwhile, the planet is cooking, the Chinese are buying everything in sight (Africa, especially), Arab civilization has imploded, and our choices for four-year saviour come down to a corrupt, talk-much/do-little Democrat and a sociopathic Republican.
It should be made of less noxious stuff.
In our last episode, we briefly pondered presidential character and noted that the great presidents, whatever their personalities and backgrounds, discover within themselves “something else.” Admiral Bull Halsey claimed that there are no great men, only great challenges to which ordinary men must rise. Perhaps. But not all ordinary men have “something else.”
Can either candidate transcend their personalities and careers and prior obligations and lead? Might be nice. But maybe we’re looking for things where they can’t be found, i.e., in the government, the economy and the culture and their endless interlocks. If America is to be made great again, the impetus must come from the citizenry, that is, from a special kind of citizen who starts with a special kind of decision.
From 1776 to Arab Spring, almost no revolution has achieved what the American Revolution did: create a lasting structure that improved on what came before. One reason why: America lacked many of the institutions and mindsets other nations had/have to struggle against. No national established church. No hereditary aristocracy. No plutocracy. No entrenched corruption. Plenty of work and land. Almost limitless mobility for the free. And a philosophy steeped in notions of individual rights.
But there was also hatred. Hatred aplenty. Hatred of the slaves and freedmen. Hatred of Native Americans. Hatred of the immigrants who poured in for a century because American needed pioneers and cheap urban labor. The Germans, the Catholic Irish, Italians and Slavs, the Jews, may have, miraculously, attained the status of “white” in two or three generations. But the hatred, the nativism, the racism didn’t end.
Then along came Kaiser Bill and Uncle Joe and the Axis Boys and Ho Chi Minh and Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and Vladimir Putin, and all those socialists, domestic and imported, and the uppity blacks (old story) and the deluging Latinos (old story, also) and the Asians (old story, also) and the Muslims (relatively new story) . . . and the ultimate villains of all:
Why do they draw such hate? Perhaps because, starting in the 1960s, liberalism determined to create a diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-grievanced society without hate. No longer was it enough to redress old wrongs or provide new opportunities. Hate was out. Hatred of blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, the young, the old, the fat (just as the obesity epidemic got underway), the gay, the transgendered, the differently-abled, the refugees, the tree huggers, whatever. Hatred was now legally actionable. Hate crimes, class-action lawsuits. The exalted status of victim of hatred became available, or so it seemed, pretty much on demand to whoever wanted it.
Now, despite all the legislation and tsk-tsking, hatred’s back. Call it the return of the repressed. Hatred’s a fact of human existence. Some people are born with it. Some enjoy it. Some need it. The regnant ethos tells us that courtesy’s a hypoctricial affection; all that matters is how you feel and making sure people know it. The Internet has abetted the formation of vocal hate groups by enabling people who otherwise might have stayed under their rocks to find each other, encourage each other, act together.
And Donald Trump has demonstrated that hatred can take you a long, long way.
If Hillary Clinton did not exist, it would be necessary for Mr. Trump and the Republican Party, what’s left of it, to invent her.
Now, those who hate others provide Mr. Trump with considerable support. But so do those who hate what’s happening to them and their country. Those who still have something to lose. Those who’ve already lost it. Their houses, their savings, their ideals – especially those pertaining to “Anybody can make it here with enough hard work.” That America elevated transient conditions into eternal, universal truths remains unacknowledged. Hate’s what matters. And this kind of hatred, looking for targets, is always of value to people like Mr. Trump.
So Donald Trump is harvesting those whom he arrogantly terms “losers” by the millions. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton offers . . . what?
To sum it up: No matter who wins on Tuesday, any genuine American renaissance must begin with a single invocation. “Citizens of the United States, control your hates. Get to work on something to replace this filthy travesty. And while you’re at it, shut up about your feelings.”
Good or bad for the Jews?
Next; Part 3, “So What?”
P.S. Did you notice? Our catalogue of hatred omitted one majorly oppressed and hated group. Women. You didn’t notice? Howe come?