Politics is 90 percent raw emotion, and the other half is doing what’s right. Peggy Noonan found her voice catching while moderating a panel in New York quoting a line from a song in the musical “Hamilton”–“How lucky we are to be alive right now.”
The next morning, watching cable news, the emotional weight of 2016 came crashing down on her.
I watched dumbly, tiredly. Then for no reason—this is true, it just doesn’t sound it—I thought of an old Paul Simon song that had been crossing my mind, “The Boy in the Bubble.” I muted the TV, found the song on YouTube, and listened as I stared at the soundless mile of cars and the soundless demonstrators. As the lyrics came—“The way we look to a distant constellation / That’s dying in a corner of the sky / . . . Don’t cry baby / Don’t cry”—my eyes filled with tears. And a sob welled up and I literally put my hands to my face and sobbed, silently, for I suppose a minute.
Pardon my Yogi Berra plagiarism above, but it’s absolutely true, and much more so for those of us who write and talk endlessly about Donald Trump, voter anger, fear, and how our country is ever supposed to survive.
Noonan came face to face with the very distinct possibility–growing daily–that “the great choice in a nation of 320 million may come down to Crazy Man versus Criminal.” And for a moment, the weight was too great, and she wilted. “You’ll feel better the next day,” she promised. And she’s right.
Because much of the country has awoken to the broken promises, lies, manipulations, and the self-serving politics that poisoned America since World War II. Not that the people of that generation were pure and faultless, but they peered into the abyss, saw the face of the devil, and stood up to fight for what’s right.
There’s a reason they’re called “the greatest generation,” and it’s not because of physical courage or some greater sense of righteousness. It was the times that they were forced to rise to.
But be of good cheer, because some things never change. Doing the right thing never changes.
We are inspired by God’s expectations of us, written down 700 years before Christ.
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Jesus confirmed the rabbinical conclusion that God’s standing order is distilled to this:
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
We are very much lucky to be alive right now in 2016, in the most prosperous, free country in the world–indeed in the history of the world. Our conveniences, rights, privileges, and seemingly-endless wealth would appear to anyone living on planet Earth even 100 years ago as if we were all kings.
Americans’ anger is justifiable, but our response is properly not to be angry at the angry voters for a perceived (and real) lack of wisdom. History is replete with bad choices. The angry voters are our neighbors, whom we are entreated to love as we love ourselves.
We don’t have to agree with our angry neighbors; in fact nothing will persuade me to support or cast a vote for The Crazy Man or The Criminal. But we must side with Heaven, not cheer as our neighbors march to Hell.