The eagerly anticipated midterm elections, now in a countdown, will no doubt reveal vast electoral dismay and division. Inflation, recession, crime, and border invasions are half of it. The Democratic-inspired War on Normal is the other.
However impressive GOP victories might be, the fifty-year-old progressive hegemon will endure. Identity hustles, handouts, lawlessness, and cultural rot won’t disappear after the midterms. Disparate impact, non-binary fantasies, and Supreme Court oppositionists in primal breakdowns will persist.
Beyond November, cunning propagandists with opportunities at thought control unprecedented in human history will seek to discredit their adversaries. Militants will intimidate authorities. The commercial republic and its assets are the prize.
Norms deal with social basics: family, education, beliefs, and public duties. Norms do not have to align with the Ten Commandments, the hopes of the Founders, classical Athens or renaissance Florence. Norms can be vile or outlandish, and they vary by social class, region, ethnicity, and system of belief.
When politics comes unglued from consensus and the possible, and what works surrenders to what side are you on, when the principle of loyal opposition gets tossed, partisan hate pops up like a toadstool.
Everything will be all right, the fast trackers say, beaming sunshine and happy talk. It is what it is, says Karen, diving into the sauvignon blanc. Let’s not go there, she says in a vaguely threatening tone when confronted with disturbing facts about social decay. There’s nothing we can do about it anyway!
Meanwhile, what Karen is thinking is how can I pull up the ladder, build a high wall, buy a safe haven, find a good school, and avoid all that seedy and weird out there, while being an ally, good person, and anti-racist? How can I … oh hell … Love wins! Trump should go to jail! He’s a monster!
Where the rich and powerful live, pride flags, climate apocalyptics, public masking, and nonstop Trump hate are habitual and in places almost obligatory. Covid has only magnified the unease. Go to Gelson’s or Whole Foods, and from the pricetags, it’s clear that inflation worries are for the little people. Let them eat Ding Dongs, and yes, they will, happily pre-diabetic, at least until the EBT card comes up with a goose egg or empty food store shelves stand as reminders of a bygone age of plenty.
For economic deadweight, porn, dope, fast food and bad music work now. But if global demand or supply makes such largesse and treats unavailable, if “entitlements” drop in a climate of austerity or want, the clients of the state are not likely to sacrifice happily for the common good. Having stoked resentment among the “underserved,” the US might reap the whirlwind.
What to do with the nation’s structurally unemployable should keep the nation’s officers and deep thinkers awake at night. Twenty million children are on food stamps. The ranks of Americans who cannot or don’t wish to cope are growing, as are racial divisions. Barack Obama’s 2008 promise to bring harmony preceded organized black rancor and white shaming. “They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic,” said Hillary Clinton in 2016, memorably anathematizing those rejecting the Democratic Party’s race, class and gender agendas.
Progressives have no monopoly on invective, and the appeal of a savior — or despot — takes many shapes. Donald J. Trump’s bitter-end partisans are not domestic terrorists, but they are not politically “normal” by pre-woke standards. And whatever they are, they are not by nature conservative or even constitutionalists.
But it’s on the progressive left where political magic elevates to faith. Starry-eyed believers dream of a better world. Their trailblazers aspire to something more sinister. Quick as lizards and equally cold-blooded, billionaire mind-warpers sell pandemonium. They seek something besides social justice, and have designs for you, me and the children.
Having tasted bourgeois accommodation and surrender, those who have ridden the mind warp to fame and fortune declare the US patrimony elitist, racist and evil. Its crimes and harms never end. This vanguard does not plan to relinquish its fictions. To do so would remove claims to compensatory privilege and sanctimony. Opportunity resides in discontent and guilt.
There is no bridge to the past, and dimming memory of coherent society is edged with yearning and nostalgia. The mid-century’s perimeters of private life and self-expression were of a time. No longer. Novel states of mind, sexual habits, and media shifts fifty years ago are the way we live now, conventional and “straight” being voluntary and in some circles possibly déclassé.
The nation’s ruling class, seeking worldly absolution, is losing the ability to admire the wholesome, the intelligent, and the beautiful. For the children, freeform, anti-normative, bad America mind warp starts with elementary-school psycho-dreck and ends with professional merit badges.
The shameless theft of great endowments and treasure houses of civilization — academies, churches, museums, symphonies, and botanic gardens — continues. It’s hard to think of any venerable cultural institution or project that has not been captured and injured by diversity and its champions. In style, art, information, entertainment and glam the powers are solidly on the side of the Bacchae and centaurs.
Yet realists of all ages and backgrounds, shocked by the rapid descent of politics and culture, adhere to nature, logic, straight talk and self-restraint. If these values do not prevail, if crazy and wrecking win the game, if outlaw culture and coercive government kill autonomy and initiative, who knows.
Imagine an Ingmar Bergman-like danse macabre with Ari Emanuel, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Cecile Richards, Beto O’Rourke, Patrisse Cullors, Cardi B. and the entire Disney executive team joined as one. The end, fade to black.
There’s an alternate happy ending, of course, but who will write the story and direct the show? Perhaps the US will need to wait until the unknown and unexpected — even the unthinkable — compels political realism hard and fast. I hope not.
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