COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 30, 2016 — According to Peggy Noonan, “maybe Mr. Trump’s appeal is simple: What Trump supporters believe, what they perceive as they watch him, is that he is on America’s side.”
It has been stylish to trash America as imperialistic and to embrace new globalism and socialist democracies as being more enlightened than we are. Schools have switched out the Pledge of Allegiance for microscopic classroom examinations of slights, real and perceived, committed in the founding of America. The fact that many of the founders were landed white men has contributed to a harsh narrative of a bully country concerned only with maintaining the wealth of the few and the privileged.
President Bill Clinton’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Democrats’ eternal belief in the power of internationalism (the UN), instead of a democratic America, to steady a gimbals-mounted world, have spawned the twin trends of multi-culturalism and political correctness. America has bent over backwards to not offend anyone while Joan Baez’ old folk song platitude, “kumbaya,” has gripped the imaginations of the young and idealistic among us.
That’s left the party of traditionalists, the Republicans, in a ditch. Old-fashioned patriotism has translated into white supremacy and racism. National spirit has become synonymous with a bullying rejection of global-warming soothsayers. America, in today’s environment of irony and judgement, has morphed into a piggy nation of useless eaters who are gobbling up the earth’s natural resources at an unacceptable rate, with little to show the world in return.
Schools, universities, the mainstream media and Hollywood have embraced this new age of American irony. President Obama’s international apology tours, his justice department’s unwillingness to prosecute black criminals in some sort of twisted payback for the slavery of the past, and his IRS’s eager intrusion into the files of those holding unacceptable (to him) political beliefs—tea party conservatives—have accompanied a seemingly contradictory insistence on “no judgment.”
Things should always be fair in the new century’s America. Incomes should be redistributed, including to lay-abouts and the drug-addled. The rich should keep on giving, their ostentatious excess and unbridled capitalistic profits corralled through myriad punitive laws and regulations.
Americans congratulate themselves for their new compassion, an impulse that began perhaps with George Bush’s wishful “compassionate conservativism.” Along the way, uncomfortable truth was left behind. If a few constitutional rights needed adjusting, all the better; the country was more diverse and the founders could be seen only with bifocals. History books were doctored to reflect the new, more egalitarian America. Heroes of the past were airbrushed out of the picture.
But, as political scandals have erupted on both sides of the political spectrum, it hasn’t been that easy to hide the truth. The country’s new moral laissez-faire is harder to maintain. We continue to embrace irony and preoccupation with self. We continue our embrace of the shiny accoutrements of the West’s pop culture, but something unexpected has occurred.
We’ve reached some sort of critical mass, resulting in the explosion of two outside political candidacies: Bernie Sanders on the left and Donald Trump on the right.
Noonan, like many commentators, begins by noting the loudest manifestation of change, the Trump phenomenon. She joins everyone, supporters and detractors alike, who hasn’t come to grips with his candidacy. But she finally observes, “He certainly jumbles up the categories. Bobby Knight, introducing him at a rally in Evansville, Indiana, on Thursday, said that Mr. Trump is not a Republican or a Democrat. The crowd seemed to like that a lot.”
This year’s election has shown clearly the two formerly trusted major parties falling into a morass of campaign cash, lobbying largesse and lies. Each party has made promises to the faithful, and each has broken them time and again. In flyover country, once the dishes are done and the kids have gone down, many openly declare that the emperor has no clothes. Something’s desperately wrong in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Enter Sanders and Trump, two men who could not be more different, the socialist and the unabashed capitalist. What do these outsiders have in common besides their outsiderness? Each, in his way, has done away with the irony of last year. Each has told the truth as he knows it. They have ignored the status quo, demanding, as John F. Kennedy did so long ago, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
There’s hope brimming over in both men’s odd march to the White House. The establishment is seen now from new and disturbing angles. The curtain has been drawn back on the great American apology tour. There is a renewed sense of optimism, just not in Washington. It’s the citizens who have arrived finally to reclaim their country from the carpetbaggers who have overstayed their welcome. They are coming in force now to give irony its rightful place in the dust bin of time.
Regardless of political persuasion, may we be successful in taking our country back from the negative nabobs who would conduct business as usual. We are America. We are the descendants and ancestors of great men and women. To the Beltway insiders we shout, “Enough of you. It’s our turn now!”