Pessimistic & powerless: Will America boil over?
While Michelle “Marie Antoinette” Obama is off in Spain spending $375,000 of our tax dollars on her vacation, former Reagan speech-writer, Peggy Noonan, says we may have reached the boiling point. Recently, Ms. Noonan took the unusual step of quoting herself from back in 1994 when she predicted:
"At home certain trends—crime, cultural tension, some cultural Balkanization—will, we fear, continue; some will worsen. In my darker moments I have a bad hunch. The fraying of the bonds that keep us together, the strangeness and anomie of our popular culture, the increase in walled communities … the rising radicalism of the politically correct … the increased demand of all levels of government for the money of the people, the spotty success with which we are communicating to the young America’s reason for being and founding beliefs, the growth of cities where English is becoming the second language … these things may well come together at some point in our lifetimes and produce something painful indeed. I can imagine, for instance, in the year 2020 or so, a movement in some states to break away from the union. Which would bring about, of course, a drama of Lincolnian darkness … You will know that things have reached a bad pass when Newsweek and Time, if they still exist 15 years from now, do cover stories on a surprising, and disturbing trend: aging baby boomers leaving America, taking what savings they have to live the rest of their lives in places like Africa and Ireland."
Sixteen years later, Time Magazine reports record numbers of Americans living abroad are trading in their American passports for those of other nations. Newsweek just sold for one dollar to the billionaire, Sidney Harmon, who had to agree to assume all of Newsweek’s massive debt.
Newsweek’s decline can be traced to 1980 when publisher, Katherine Graham, fired long-time Newsweek senior editor, Arnaud de Borchgrave, for co-authoring “The Spike” – a novel blowing the whistle on how the ruling-class, mainstream media “spike” reports that do not agree with the liberal group-think.
Granted, the Belgian-born de Borchgrave can be intimidating. French is his cradle language; however, he speaks several others as well, to include Arabic. World leaders welcome the former Belgian Count (a title he does not use) because he reports what they have to say fairly and honestly, without taking sides. Imagine that. Wonder Wife and I have seen Arnaud at work when we toured the Korean DMZ and the Soviet Union with Arnaud and Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave.
Peggy Noonan predicted some states might want to break away from the Union. Could she have foreseen Arizona being crushed financially by the federal government’s faint attempts at border control and then being sued by the very government whose first duty is to keep its citizens safe in their persons and their property?
Historian Victor Davis Hanson suggests our current government is at cross purposes with its citizens because we have: “… a largely conservative electorate [that wants] lower taxes, smaller but more competent government, fewer overseas commitments, honest government, and officials who live like the public they represent… The public is waiting for an articulate conservative reformer who will quietly keep promises to balance the budget more through spending cuts than taxes, close the border to illegal immigration, either win or get out of long wars abroad, respect federal law and apply it equally, and restore a sense of American confidence and American exceptionalism."
That takes us to Ms. Noonan’s conclusion: “When the adults of a great nation feel a great pessimism, it only makes matters worse when those in authority take actions that reveal their detachment from their 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.”
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, studied at Harvard’s JFK School of Government. Dr. Hamilton is a former assistant professor of political science and history at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
© 2010. William Hamilton.