Could the people who thought up and then made America soon find their thoughts put to a new use?
We’re in trouble up to our noses. It’s not trump or Moscow Mitch. They’re just the byproducts. Maybe the end products. We put ourselves in this muck by being what most of us are: Good Americans.
What’s that? For the most part, we are generous of spirit. We have a feeling -- sometimes faint -- for the other guy’s point of view. We are willing to say that people will do what they believe is right and won’t do what they believe is wrong. And often, when we’re wrong about something, we admit it.
And we respect authority, at least with our mouths if not our hearts. And sometimes, we respect too much.
The seeds of our current crises were sewn in the 19th century, then grew -- slowly at first -- but steadily. When the Robber Barons were in their prime we listened to them. They fed us 19th century junk food. But, look, they’re rich and powerful. Those are good things to be, right? Let’s try to be Jay Gould or JP Morgan or at least Astor’s pet horse.
People of deep perception took note. And basically, they reigned in the financial terrorists of the Standard Oil era. Most of us alive today don’t remember when people fought the creation of regulatory agencies as “socialist.” Also “socialist?” Social Security. Voting rights. The war on poverty. Desegregation. Medicare. Medicaid. Unions.
None of that was even close to socialism. It was simply American institutionalizing helping hands.
But we’re also bent toward letting things go too long in the wrong direction. After what Tom Brokaw calls the “Greatest Generation,” we got soft. Consumerism was on the rise. The Saturday Evening Post told us it was a big, wide, white and wonderful world. We believed the Dulles brothers -- there were commies at every bus stop waiting to sell us into wage slavery.
Then came William F. Buckley, a fabulous recontour with an agenda. He was essentially an apologist for Pope Pius XII, but an amusing one.
Then came Ayn Rand with her combination of individual “rights,” and “rational self-interest.”
Then it was the John Birch Society, with guns and ammo for the oppressed white majority. And the anti-Semites and the George Wallaces and the countervailing Black Power-ites and Nation of Islam and the most violent of violent groups the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. (My mom was Stokely Carmichael’s homeroom teacher.)
Now we have the remaining Koch, Rush Limbaugh, Moscow Mitch and the puppet, trump. They are anti-reason, they are anti-intellectuals, they ignore facts. They ignore science and they ignore -- the rest of us.
Their central premise is that America has “always” survived and prospers and “always will,” no matter our greed, our excesses and our ignoring of or hostility toward facts, reason and situational awareness.
That’s wrong. And if you don’t stop it, we will implode. The dynamite for that already is in place. All that’s left is to light the fuse.
It’s too windy for the Bic lighter. Anyone have a Zippo?
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Comments? Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
© WJR 2019