“The biggest political change in my lifetime is that Americans no longer assume that their children will have it better than they did. This is a huge break with the past, with assumptions and traditions that shaped us.
The country I was born into was a country that had existed steadily, for almost two centuries, as a nation in which everyone thought—wherever they were from, whatever their circumstances—that their children would have better lives than they did. That was what kept people pulling their boots on in the morning after the first weary pause: My kids will have it better. They’ll be richer or more educated, they’ll have a better job or a better house, they’ll take a step up in terms of rank, class or status. America always claimed to be, and meant to be, a nation that made little of class. But America is human. “The richest family in town,” they said, admiringly. Read Booth Tarkington on turn-of-the-last-century Indiana. It’s all about trying to rise.
Parents now fear something has stopped. They think they lived through the great abundance, a time of historic growth in wealth and material enjoyment. They got it, and they enjoyed it, and their kids did, too: a lot of toys in that age, a lot of Xboxes and iPhones. (Who is the most self-punishing person in America right now? The person who didn’t do well during the abundance.) But they look around, follow the political stories and debates, and deep down they think their children will live in a more limited country, that jobs won’t be made at a great enough pace, that taxes—too many people in the cart, not enough pulling it—will dishearten them, that the effects of 30 years of a low, sad culture will leave the whole country messed up. And then there is the world: nuts with nukes, etc.
Optimists think that if we manage to turn a few things around, their kids may have it . . . almost as good. The country they inherit may be . . . almost as good. And it’s kind of a shock to think like this; pessimism isn’t in our DNA. But it isn’t pessimism, really, it’s a kind of tough knowingness, combined, in most cases, with a daily, personal commitment to keep plugging.
But do our political leaders have any sense of what people are feeling deep down? They don’t act as if they do. I think their detachment from how normal people think is more dangerous and disturbing than it has been in the past. I started noticing in the 1980s the growing gulf between the country’s thought leaders, as they’re called—the political and media class, the universities—and those living what for lack of a better word we’ll call normal lives on the ground in America. The two groups were agitated by different things, concerned about different things, had different focuses, different world views.
But I’ve never seen the gap wider than it is now. I think it is a chasm. In Washington they don’t seem to be looking around and thinking, Hmmm, this nation is in trouble, it needs help. They’re thinking something else. I’m not sure they understand the American Dream itself needs a boost, needs encouragement and protection. They don’t seem to know or have a sense of the mood of the country.
And so they make their moves, manipulate this issue and that, and keep things at a high boil. And this at a time when people are already in about as much hot water as they can take.
To take just one example from the past 10 days, the federal government continues its standoff with the state of Arizona over how to handle illegal immigration. The point of view of our thought leaders is, in general, that borders that are essentially open are good, or not so bad. The point of view of those on the ground who are anxious about our nation’s future, however, is different, more like: “We live in a welfare state and we’ve just expanded health care. Unemployment’s up. Could we sort of calm down, stop illegal immigration, and absorb what we’ve got?” No is, in essence, the answer.
An irony here is that if we stopped the illegal flow and removed the sense of emergency it generates, comprehensive reform would, in time, follow. Because we’re not going to send the estimated 10 million to 15 million illegals already here back. We’re not going to put sobbing children on a million buses. That would not be in our nature. (Do our leaders even know what’s in our nature?) As years passed, those here would be absorbed, and everyone in the country would come to see the benefit of integrating them fully into the tax system. So it’s ironic that our leaders don’t do what in the end would get them what they say they want, which is comprehensive reform.
When the adults of a great nation feel long-term pessimism, it only makes matters worse when those in authority take actions that reveal their detachment from the concerns—even from the essential nature—of their fellow citizens. And it makes those citizens feel powerless.
Inner pessimism and powerlessness: That is a dangerous combination.”
Comment: I am deeply interested in personal revelations such as those of Peggy Noonan’s in her article at the Wall Street Journal, AMERICA IS AT RISK OF BOILING OVER.
My upset with Ms. Noonan is where has she been in her writings for the past many years? She apparently hasn’t met Dennis Prager, who has described today’s America as one in a civil war against the invasions from the Left into every American institution.
In her subtitle, Ms. Noonan allowed this to be written: “Out of touch leaders don’t see the need to cool things off.”
Where does Ms. Noonan live and breath? We have a two party system of government in which for the past 40 years one party has plotted and acted to expand its antiAmericanism Marxism demand for government forced equality…..government forced equality of man and woman behavior…..government forced equality of everyone being a Marxist and therefor antireligion……government forced equality of black and white cultures, to be equally poor and ignorant and become government forced to accept Marxist “learnings” from school and university taught, led, or spied on by the “graduates” from the Black ‘Studies’ Departments and the Women’s ‘Studies’ Departments, and from the Gay and Lesbian ‘Studies’ Departments.
What do Americans think is taught in these thousands and thousands of Departments of this, that, and the other victimhood gatherings by the American Left for special learnings to hate and get even against all of the perceived perpetrators of their grievances and feelings of victimness! Why should anyone learn a skill or even work when they can rely on handouts by calling racist, sexist, or homophobe, and take in a lot more money doing it?
And what about the Lefty activist courts which abort democracy, marriage, and birthright as well as free speech in most communities? Where should conservatives be cooling off here?
To make it simple, America is in trouble because Marxism is here to stay and flourish. We are in a battle of the Marxist feminizing the culture, selling its wares to replace the husband and father as the security giver of the family. The human female was not born to be a problem solver and is not interested in liberty.
She demands security and peace…..to hell with liberty. She wants protection. She’d prefer to suckle husband and sons with order and quiet at home…safe home.
Today she votes female for more and more of her kind live alone. Marriages come and go. And they lose meaning, don’t they. In England a gal recently married her dolphin pet.
Two generations ago folks were married and voted together in the interests of the family, which usually meant supporting the husband’s (father’s) line of work.
Three generations ago and more, most Americans were farmers. Everyone in the family had required tasks for survival. They didn’t go to Black, Gay, or Women’s Studies classes to learn to hate others.
Today’s Party in command, the Democrat, has controlled the Congress most of the past 50 years and now controls the presidency and most of the nation’s courts. What do those tread upon have to cool, when the party dictating has the power to dictate and grab what they want? What does Ms. Noonan suggest the downtrodden conservatives in government trade, when the ‘White” man in the White House isn’t interested in giving up he can grab? He is on a mission….and Peggy faults both constituencies, even though it’s the president’s Marxist mission which is tearing us apart!
When do you think assertiveness training for “ poor, pathetically underempowered girls and women” became a popular tax payer supported university indoctrination? I remember decent, honest , hard working secretaries at the University of Minnesota campus where my offices were throughout the 1970s were paid to go to sessions to make them mean and in-your-face “men” as the lesbian feminists of the day preferred them to be.
Today, no one can be called “secretary” any more except Hillary as “Secretary of State”.
American is in a state of free fall. Women and womenish men or on a spending spree. Why is there a need for restraint when you can steal other people’s money, claiming you are entitled to it. Three cheers for Obama’s Marxism! That is the American in which we live today. And it is getting stronger every day….
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