As we wind down the barbecues, bid friends and family goodbye, and head home from vacation spots (at least two friends I know spent time at Disney), we can turn from gazing at the past, reflecting on their sacrifice, to the future and its attendant uncertainty.
Our government is as disconnected and infected with elite gnosticism and what Peggy Noonan called “civic decadence” as we accuse other, less developed countries of being. And of course, there’s the man who claims to be the cure for our ills, the orange-hued billionaire who built his own fortune alternately sucking up to or opposing the hedonists within.
Noonan reminds us of how casually Hillary Clinton lies:
Which brings us to the State Department Office of Inspector General’s report involving Hillary Clinton’s emails. It reveals one big thing: Almost everything she has said publicly about her private server was a lie. She lied brazenly, coolly, as one who is practiced in lying would, as one who always gets away with it could.
But Trump’s best answer is “it takes one to know one.” Plus, there’s no guarantee that the man who says he’ll clean up Washington won’t do it by trashing every American government institution and making for himself a kleptocracy that Paul Manafort’s former clients would envy.
“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel,” Mr. Trump said Friday, as the crowd of several thousand booed. “He is not doing the right thing. And I figure, what the hell? Why not talk about it for two minutes?”
Judge Curiel ordered the release of a raft of smoking gun documents in the Trump University lawsuit. Some of the documents show that the business was more interested in its students’ wallets than their education. One document “instructed employees to rank students by liquid assets to help determine what kind of course packages they could afford to buy.”
I wonder what a President Trump could do to make a federal judge’s life miserable? (A lot, I would think, including abolishing that particular bench, which is constitutionally in the chief executive’s power.)
Trump has tapped into a movement of those fed up with our decadent present and looking forward to a more decadent future. The GOP, as a party, will never be the same. It’s significant that Trump, who claims he’s given the Republican Party a new, larger constituency than ever before, refers to the party as “they” in response to independent candidate rumblings (raising the question: Who is “we?”).
Bill Kristol has been wrong for 2yrs-an embarrassed loser, but if the GOP can't control their own, then they are not a party. Be tough, R's!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2016
As much as we think America is in new, uncharted territory, the past shows it’s not. The young generation of coddled, safe-space-seeking milquetoasts bent on their own empowerment and self-discovery is an Internet-powered echo of the post WWI decadence 100 years ago.
But then, the incessant moral busybodies weren’t global warming activists or politically correct social justice warriors (although there were plenty of SJW’s of a sort back then). The most egregious example of progressive and populist governing gone wild is the temperance movement. The Eighteenth Amendment was an ill-thought-out and horrible piece of legislation–the result of elites who were sure of their righteousness and disdainful of those who disagreed.
After the populist presidency of Republican Teddy Roosevelt and the disastrous protectionism of Smoot-Hawley, the Great Depression ended the Bohemian paradise. The GOP became the party of business and the Democrats became the working man’s party. Trump hopes to reverse that, but the social dynamics remain the same.
Our federal government is headed for insolvency, a place where the country’s productive output cannot support our debt load, entitlements and obligations without a massive shift in social responsibility to the very disaffected elite government-types who got us in this mess. The bubble will pop at some point, because it has to. And either America will fix its own problems through personal responsibility and ending the reign of the hedonists, or we’ll face more than just a 2008 recession.
Or we’ll face war if we think we can default on trillions of dollars of debt and leave foreign countries (like China) with no recourse, or if we blackmail our allies into paying for our military friendship. War is a hateful, awful, wasteful thing but it does tend to focus the country on what matters.
Which brings us back to Memorial Day. If we can take any lesson at all from those who gave their lives in war, from WWII to Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s that we shouldn’t be unserious about our future. Even though it seems like we’re headed to hell in a hand basket, we’re not there, and history shows these things have a way of working themselves out. Our responsibility is choosing how they work out: The steady path, or the hard way.
For the next four years, however, it’s very clear that America has picked the hard way.